Many people say that you are what you eat. What do they mean by this? Many people who eat poorly are usually out of shape, lethargic, and not meeting their personal health goals. If they ate healthy, their whole lives would be different. So if a person eats things that will hurt their body, their body will reflect their eating habits. Do you think a storage owner resembles what their facilities look like? Let’s examine this thought.
Many owners put their heart, soul and sweat into their storage facilities and hope to get the maximum gain from this. Well that is the description of most owners. Unfortunately there are some who do not do anything to help their company put their best foot forward. The self storage owners that come into work daily looking to find ways to increase business are the same owners that have and own beautifully well kept facilities. The owners that just try to sit back and collect a paycheck are typically the ones with not so great looking facilities. Little do those managers know that how a facility looks can dramatically affect how a customer feels about renting there. If a owner knew that they were losing business because of how their facilities looked, would they make an effort to change their appearance?
Not everyone will have the capital to make the changes they want to their facilities, so they do the best they can do. Some owners have put their selves into debt just to make their facilities brighter, cleaner and more sophisticated than those around them only to get minimal return out of it. Of course it takes more than just a clean and well kept facility to make customers come through the door to rent, but it does help. There are many run down facilities out there where the owner is very satisfied with the income that is coming in so they do not do much with their facilities. They are fine just getting by. Does this make them bad storage owners?
No it does not. Ultimately it is up to the self storage customer on where they want to store. They have to make the right decision for their storage needs. They have to be the one to decide if you want to store there. The owners hope that they do decide to rent from their facility anyway and hope that the customer sees they are trying to keep costs down by just making sure they have a place to store. Some people are just looking for somewhere to put their belongings and not really needing anything extravagant. If that is the case, the customer doesn’t really need a well kept facility. They just need to have a place where they can put their belongings for now. A clean facility is great for the majority of those people who want to store, but it is not the only thing they are looking for.
Disclamer: This entry is intended to promote our partner StorageMart and some or all participants received compensation.
How many angry customers call and they want speak to the owner of the facility. Sometimes I chuckle at people who think they have the opportunity to speak to the owner of the facility. They believe that we have a direct line to the owner and they will be readily available to speak to them on demand. People think they can come into the facility and wait around for the owner to come walking through the door. When the customer is angry or not happy with the management they believe they can snap and the owner will be there with bells on. Are they crazy to think this?
Some self storage owners like to be hands on and do whatever they can to please their customers. This could include having their phone numbers where customers can see them. If you walk to into some large scale retail environments you will see that the regional manager or even the store owner’s phone number and picture will be on the wall behind customer service. It is sure that if the customer does not like what they are hearing, they whip out their cell phones and expect to speak to the person in that picture. Some people are actually shocked if the person owning the store answers the phone. Why should they be shocked? Their number is up there for a reason. Is that reasonable in the self storage industry?
As an owner, they want everything in their company to run smoothly. Some owners decide to visit their facilities often just to make sure that everything is running in tip top condition. They do not want anything out of place and they want to make sure that their managers are running good businesses. You will find that some owners walk customers around the facilities and get behind the counter as if they were the manager. The customers do not always know that they are speaking to the owner of the company and are shocked to see them behind the counter.
It shouldn’t shock customers to know that they can get to the owner of some companies. They should not think that they can get to the owner of every company. They just have to use common sense. The larger the company, the harder it is to reach the person at the top. Usually they do have someone that handles customer issues that escalate to the corporate side of things. Customers do not need to be offended if they cannot reach the top if their situation can be taken care of. Also there is not a guarantee that the owner is going to be side with the customer in any case. The owner still has to protect their business and ensure that customers are happy at the same time. No one said their job was easy.
Disclamer: This entry is intended to promote our partner StorageMart and some or all participants received compensation.
As most self storage owners, owning storage is not what most owners wanted to do when they were growing up. If you ask some of them, they might tell you that they grew up wanting to be successful and own their own business. They might tell you that they wanted to be business man of some sort, but they were not sure at the time what they wanted to be. Something in their life influenced their decision to become self storage owners.
There are self storage trade shows after trade show throughout the year, where you will find many self storage owners who have either been in the game for a long time or they are just itching to do so. With that said, no matter where they are in their self storage owner progress, they own self storage. They have accomplished their first step of their goal. Of course as time goes along they will get the experience they need in order to make a great owner.
People see self storage facilities all over the place and some often wonder what the idea behind owning self storage is. The reality of it is that people who are just staring out are told that self storage is a cash cow so they look more into it. That could have peaked their interest to get into self storage. They could have had a family member that worked for self storage or owned self storage in the past. There are many reasons people have decide to own self storage. As it stands, the self storage industry has a lot of owners, all wanting to be an owner for different reasons. What ever your reason to be an owner, make sure that you ready to get involved in a very competitive industry.
Disclamer: This entry is intended to promote our partner StorageMart and some or all participants received compensation.
Every owner is looking for the next best thing to hit the self storage industry that they can apply at their facilities. They go to all these different trade shows and such just to get ideas and to ensure that they know what they are talking about when they get into many discussions about storage. They want to be up on the latest and greatest so when it comes time to make changes they can try to put it into their budgets. Owners know that sometimes they will have to change their thoughts and their normal activities in order to stay competitive. They do not have it as easy as some people think.
Owners know that they have competition right down the street and they are not always looking to put that company out of business. They are looking at coexisting as long as their business is still growing. If the business is growing, then no one has a problem. The problem starts when there is not any growth and then the owner has to go back to the drawing board about some things or make some major changes. Owners might look at the property managers first before they think about making any changes to the property. Hiring an new person or giving more training is a lot easier than making physical changes to a building.
When new facilities are built next to older ones, they will always look better because they are nice, clean and their paint is nice and fresh. To keep up with them, an owner is going to have to find a way to keep that kind of stuff in the budget. Sometimes that is all the owner has to do in order to stay up with the competition. They might not have to install some fancy security systems or even a gate. Owners have to think about the tough decisions daily. Property managers go home and they lay their heads down with a quick thought about what they have to do the next day. Owners are constantly thinking about how to improve their business. Their thought process never really slows down. If they let their selves have a moment away from their thoughts they could have a great idea pass them by.
There are many that want to own or operate self storage facilities but it is not for everyone. It takes a particular kind of person to run a company and live with the decisions that they make. Many people try to make decisions but then they can not handle the prospect that they were wrong and start to second guess themselves. The moment they start to doubt them selves about one decision, every decision they make from here on out will be questioned in their minds. I do not envy self storage owners. Their jobs are harder than I would like to handle.
Everyday I am privileged to see some self storage owners in action. I get to see some of their daily routines and hear some of their discussions. Sometimes I am very curious and envious of what they do, while at other times I am very happy I am not in their position. There are times in which they are sitting their relaxed and reading a newspaper wondering about world events while other times they have people in their office discussing some pressing business. I could see myself in either situation trying to be the best owner I can be, but then I think about it for a moment. What makes a great self storage owner?
Of course since I am not a self storage owner, everything I type after this point will just be my opinion, but I observe a lot. A self storage owner is really not much different than any owner of any business. Yes the products might be different but in the long run you are still running a company and you are the one who will have to make decisions. Whatever those decisions may be, they are your decisions. Owners have struggled from time to time trying to stay afloat in the self storage industry and many have succeeded. There are many that did not make it but they are chopping at the bit to try again and get back out there.
We could go on for a long period of time trying to look at what makes a good self storage owner. Let’s just stick to the basics. A self storage owner, or any owner as a whole, needs to be able to listen. What I mean by needs to be able to listen means that they need to be able to hear about the different changes in the self storage, listen to their customers and listen to their managers. The worst thing that a owner can do is just make decisions without really listening to the those that are close to the customers are in the trenches daily. If they do not talk to these people then they have to live with the decisions that they make. If a manager tells you that something is not working and they have been trying out for weeks with no progress then think about how to make it right for that manager. Maybe that manager has ideas that need to be discussed. But unfortunately some owners think they know it all and will live with the results. You will also see that some owners have a panel of advisors that are around them when trying to decide something major. These are the owners that are successful.
A self storage owner has to be very patient. If you are patient as an owner, you will succeed. There will be many times that you have to make that quick decision and other times where you have to take some time. Many times owners try to be patient but they are in a competitive market. They are in this position to make snap decisions and they are alright. When it comes to major decisions, hopefully the owner has time to think about it and weight the different options. If they can do that they will be in good shape. Will a patient owner make the wrong choice? Yes they will, but that same manager will see what error they made. Patience does not always give you success, but it would seem as though the patient owners, will let a deal or two go by and be ok with it only to have another come along that was better than before. Patience will win the race.
As a self storage owner, there is always a list of things for you to do or you might hire someone else to do your list for you. Whatever the case, you have a lot on your plate that you have to figure out how to do it all in a timely fashion. There are many owners who like to fly by the seat of their pants while others want to ensure that ever little detail has been covered before moving on. Sometimes the littlest detail missed could mean a bigger issue later.
On a day to day basis, what does an owner think about? I am not a self storage owner, so I can only speculate. Most owners think about the next car they are going to buy because of how their self storage facility is flourishing. Ok that is not the case. Even if it was, no one would admit it. It is assured that the self storage owners are thinking about such things as potentially acquiring more facilities, ensuring their facilities are being managed correctly and other things like limiting operational costs. The owners do not just sit back and twiddle their thumbs. They have serious work to do. Most of their work is mental.
You will see how different owners work depending on how much they want them wants to be involved in the process. Some will get right in there behind a counter and work at a store from time to time, while others will get together with their managers and brain storm. Those brain storming sessions can be a very good thing because that is where all the new ideas in self storage come from. Great ideas do not just happen, they are thought of and then implemented. It takes a team coming together in order to make some things happen. It also takes a lot of patience.
Not a lot of people give owners the respect they are due. Honestly they are some hard working people. If they are not in the trenches with their people, at least they are behind the scenes making sure bills get paid, the business grows, and the doors stay open. If they are not doing this for the company, then that would be a problem, but they are. If you are getting a pay check as a manager or an associate, things are going well. It would take some work for owners to get the credit they are due since they are the big boss. There is always a negative thought about bosses to where no one thinks they do anything. But people do strive to be a boss on day.
It is true that it takes a whole team effort to run a self storage business. It takes more than just the owner barking orders and managers doing as they are told. It takes a partnership. It takes a level of respect. Managers have to know that the owners are doing what they need to do in order to assist them in the stores. Owners have to know that the managers are doing all they can to take care of the customers. Managers see all that is going on in their level of the job, so they might have some ideas to make positive changes to the company. The owners just have to listen and make that tough decision on whether or not it can be done or it is best for the customer. Each part of the process is putting in some hard work.
Even though self storage is a very lucrative business that does not mean that everyone is able to do it. Not everyone should just invest all of their hard earned money or their borrowed money into self storage. Why you may ask? There are several reasons that we will discuss in this blog, some of which are just opinions while others are fact. You can always take your pick. When thinking about investing into self storage you really have to do your homework.
First of all, why are you investing into self storage? Do you think that it is ubercool to sell people and empty space? Do you believe that you are able to help people satisfy their needs and come to their rescue when they are evicted out of their homes? Whatever your reason to want to invest and be a part of the self storage world, make sure that is a sound one. You do not want to invest that much money into the brand only to flake out on it later. When you get in to self storage you have to put your whole effort into it and not get discouraged if you are not making the money that you sought after right away.
Self storage is not something that you can just dump a bunch of money into and hope for a happy result. Self storage planning and owning is hard work and your time is money when you are an owner in self storage. If you are just getting into the business, many will tell you that you are too late. What they mean by that is many feel that the market is saturated and there are to many hands in the pot. So if you put a self storage facility out there, you might not hit all of your occupancy goals because the self storage facility down the street is trying to capture the same market you are. This is business is just like any other business when it comes down to trying to capture the market share.
If you do not know anything about self storage or even real estate, you better make sure you have someone on your team that does. The moment that you purchase land and begin to build and you have not chosen the right cost for the real estate in conjunction with what the projected profit will be, you will be in a hole financially quickly. Just like a house, if you do not make a payment, you house will eventually be taken away. The first couple of months might not be what you expected and could very well be slow. Make sure that you think about the area in which you want to put a self storage facility on before you break ground. Some people found it a very good idea to purchase a facility that is already established and ready to go. They feel they can restore that store to its former glory. At least they feel they can turn a profit.
Be smart. If you really believe that you can open up a shoe store in a mall that has ten other shoe stores on the same wing and make money, you are mistaken. The same goes for self storage. If you are looking to put your facility in a market that has so many other facilities, think again. You are going to put so much effort into lowering prices, shopping your competition, making upgrades to your facility that might not be needed if you were in a different area of town. You can literally drive yourself crazy if you are trying to figure out how to close the doors of your competition. Be smart, they are trying to do the same to you. If you are going to invest in a self storage facility, do your homework. Really think about it. Many believe there are too many storage facilities out there, maybe they are right.
Property managers need help just like anyone else. Most of the time it is just one manager per facilityi with maybe a relief manager to assist them. They have many responsibilities they need to take care of and a business to run. So many Owners think that is it is a great idea to hire an after hours call center to help their managers out. The self storage owners are not just hiring the after hours call center to assist them with their rentals, they also know that most customers just want to hear and talk to a live person. So what can that live person do after hours? It is up to the owner, but they can do anything the owner will allow them to do.
For instance the after hour call center can help the facility manager by taking payments for them. A rep was speaking with a dad of a college student who was renting a unit, he seemed a bit perturbed. Apparently the rent wasn’t paid and dad was called to the rescue. The payment on the rental had fallen a few weeks behind. Dad was worried about losing the unit and didn’t want to risk mailing off the payment since he was out of state, he wanted to take care of it ASAP.
In this situation the store had already closed an hour prior and he thought for sure that he wasn’t going to be able to take care of that payment that night. He was relieved to find out that the after hours call center rep could take the payment over the phone. Otherwise the student might not have had a unit to rent in and there could have been more problems to follow. Having a back up to the property manager is in the interest of every self storage owner.
Self storage owners have a pretty difficult job. Contrary to popular belief they are not just sitting on their yachts working on their tan, they are racking their brain trying to ensure that their business is running smoothly and efficiently. They have many things on their plate such as, staying within their budgets, making stock holders happy, ensuring that their facilities are being run correctly just to name a few. In regards to ensuring their facilities are being run correctly and making a profit, owners have to really take time out to find the right kind of person to run their facilities. That is not as easy in the self storage industry.
Owners make it a point to try to find managers to run their facilities that have the mindset to juggle many responsibilities. Owners have to feel comfortable leaving one of their facilities in the hands of a person that will be running the day to day business so they can focus their attention to other matters. There are some owners who would say they have found managers who are able to do it all without complaint and without flaw. It is assured that owners would love to clone such managers and spread them throughout their company. Unfortunately not all property managers are created equal.
There will be properties that are out there that are begin run by managers who talked a good talk during the interview process that are failing now. In the self storage industry you can just hire a warm body and expect that warm body to do all that is required to run a successful business. Owners need to take the time to do their research, recruit and do extensive background checks to make sure that are putting the best candidate in the position as possible. They are putting someone in charge of potential cash cow. Owners should make finding the right property manager on the top of their priority list.
There will be times in which the owners of particular self storage companies will have to hire new managers or a new staff to their facilities. No one wants to hire someone and then in a month or two turn around and hire another person due to the previous person not working out. Owners have to ensure that they are doing the best they can do when hiring the right person for the job. How do they do that? How can they ensure they hire the right person?
Unfortunately it is not for sure that the person that you believe is the best person for the job will actually work out. Even thought the person that you are hiring has the best interview, experience, and the skills you are looking for, they still have to accept the job and begin to work it. Sometimes people will be offered a job, it is accepted and then not show up to work. That is just how it is on occasion. Don’t let that discourage you, still stay strong with what you looking out of a self storage manager and do you due diligence in finding that right person. Make sure that you ask a lot of probing questions so that you can truly try to understand what they are all about. Of course there will be some people who know how to sell their self very well even though what they are telling you might not be a true statement.
What kind of probing questions can you ask? The best questions to ask are about their previous work and ask them how they handled particular situations. Make sure that you ask open ended questions that make the person that you are interviewing have to give you a answer that takes a couple of sentences. Ask such questions like, at your previous job how did you react when a fellow coworker did not pull their own weight? What would you do if you have a dispute with a manager? There are many questions that you can ask a prospective manager, but there are also questions that you are not supposed to ask. Make sure understand what those questions are because you do not want to risk a lawsuit while trying to build your business.
Finding a self storage manager is hard on self storage owners, but it has to be done. In the grand scheme of things ensuring that a self storage owner finds the right manager for their store is very important to the overall business. An owner does not want spend their time running the individual store when they have to make decision for the whole company. They are relieved once they find the right manager that can relieve some of their stress.