How to Find, Hire, and Train an Amazing Self Storage Manager

In businesses the most important thing is the people who run the business. If you are a fortunate business owner then I would suspect you are not doing the day-to-day tasks and delegating those to others who can likely, if trained properly, do the tasks better. Doing so frees up your time for family, friends, or fun.

When I bought my first property, I needed to learn how to run the business so I could teach my manager the correct way to do things. It is always good to teach your managers how to do tasks like you would do them. When you are not around your employee will act as an extension of yourself and not as an employee. Before you buy your first business or storage facility, I would recommend reading up on the management of these properties. Even if you do not want to run them yourself and want to hand it over to a management company, you must have the experience to teach someone else to run it or this could be a loss for your company.

The key is to train your manager to think like you do. We can go into that in our next lesson but first you have to find a manager. Without someone who is able and willing to manage your property, your business will suffer. Whenever I am about to purchase a business, I always look at the current employee situation. Are there current employees capable of finishing the tasks I want them to do? Are they currently not performing up to my standards? If the answer to the second question is no then you need to ask yourself, why they are not meeting your standards. Were they not properly trained? Are they not getting the correct support from the owners or are they just lazy and do not like the field they are in?

I specialize in buying underperforming properties being poorly managed. In some cases it is the owner’s fault who is not giving the manager what he or she needs to be successful and sometimes it is purely the manager’s fault. I like to look for combinations that have both then here you find the upside. I have found tremendous upside in properties from them simply being poorly managed.

I have found a few notable items that are necessary with managers of my business. They must be hard workers. Lazy people get nowhere in life and accomplish only the bare minimum to survive. If they are not a hard worker with motivation, then they need to be replaced. Motivation is the key to a successful manager because if they are not motivated in his or her life, he or she will not be motivated at work. They must strive for something in their lives that they want and usually their work helps them get there. If they have motivation in life to become better, most likely they will have motivation to be successful at their job.

The third thing that I look for is someone who is willing to learn. In all my properties we do a large amount of teaching. In most cases 90% of what current managers were taught is wrong and the other 10% have not been taught the correct way. This is why the majority of current managers must go because they are unwilling to learn new things and are stuck in bad habits. A willingness to change and be taught, motivation in their lives, and hard work is what I look for. If you can find these three traits, I would say you have a good start. I also look for people who I simply like and could develop a relationship with because I find that people will work harder for a boss they like as opposed to working for a boss he or she does not like.

Now how do you go about finding these people to run your multi-million dollar businesses? The first and easiest way is referrals. I always know the top brokers, bankers, and city employees in each city I tend to do business with. Due diligence is the key and you should know them all well. I like to send them out an e-mail letting them know I respect their opinions as successful and knowledgeable people in the city and if they know anyone who fits the criteria to please bring those individuals to my attention. I have yet to ever have to go outside those few contacts to hire any managers. Honestly, I have had too many people who were very qualified that could have fit the bill easily. If you cannot find someone from those contacts go introduce yourself to more well respected individuals in the community and get more referrals. The chamber of commerce meetings do wonders for this stage in the hiring process.

One you get that referral and you find yourself someone who has integrity is a hard worker, motivated in life, and willing to learn new things then it is time to start them off on the right foot. I know when I walk into a job I am more comfortable when I know what I am doing. I remember umpiring for the first time and just got thrown out there. I was nervous and blew many calls. I then remember my first meeting with investors to ask them for money to invest in one of my deals. Was I nervous? Yes, a little, but I had training from someone who has been there before and I was much more comfortable and loved my job. Managers want to be trained and they will appreciate the training because they will not feel like a fish out of water on day one.

I suggest give them a short self storage book written by Tom Litton. It is a very easy read for a self storage manager and the information from his books is readily available on the internet. Every business owner’s time is valuable, but the time you take to correctly train a new employee is well worth the time you save having to constantly retrain new employees. I would start the training process a week before they start to be sure not to give them information overload too quickly. I would give them a day or two to read these books and report to you with questions, comments, and concerns.

Many storage companies and businesses use management software. The easiest way to foul up records is to fail to have the proper knowledge on how to use the products. On my storage facility I use Site Link web edition. Site link has training videos, webinars, and manuals that explain everything in detail. I give my employees a solid day to review all of Site Link’s materials so when day one comes he or she feels very confident on how to use the software. Once again you have no real involvement and require him or her to come to you with questions, comments, and concerns.

Many other training materials that are put on by inside self storage and the national self storage association will compliment your own training tactics. If you are serious with your employees, you can have them take the QSM or CSSM courses through each medium. I am qualified in both and they are a great way to get started. I recommend that you take these for your own educational purposes and then pass your knowledge along to your managers.

The final step in the training process is to do mystery shops, mystery calls, and other role playing on events that happen at a storage facility. I would spend an entire day role playing with your manager. I would do everything from doing pretend calls with customers interested in renting a unit, current customers unsure about the new management, and collection calls to delinquent tenants who are behind on rent. I also do pretend customers who walk in to rent a unit, walk-in people that make a payment, walk-in people who are behind on rent and try to negotiate, and so on. I want to be sure that the majority of the situations that could occur, my manager have seen the situation from me first. Once we are done with a single role paying situation, we always go back in our heads on the positives, negatives, and improvements to be made. We also record some of our phone calls so we can let managers listen to them themselves.

The lifeblood of your company is the people who run it. I know I do not want to run my own company on a day-to-day basis as I am out there buying more properties. However, before you before you focus on buying another property, take the time to make sure the one you just bought is being managed properly. Trying to acquire your next deal, you need to learn the business yourself. It will give you plenty of a return on the investment of your education and I promise you, whatever you invest in your managers’ education, you will be paid back tenfold. Treat your manager like you want to be treated, be honest with them, deliver realistic expectations, and praise them in public and criticize them in private. Respect your managers and do your best to care for them as people, not just an employee and he or she will do their best to treat your business like it is his or her own. I know everyone cannot have a personal relationship with his or her employees but I care for the people who work for me and I am successful because of him or her. I want to extend a special thank you to my friends and managers Ron Harris, Amber Rowe, Natasha Redding, Ruben Rodriguez, Teri Williams, Linda Davis, Theresa Voyles and many more. They have definitely made my life happier than ever.