As the owner of a self-storage business, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is who stands behind the desk in your facility-management office. Your property managers are the front line of your operation and the face of the business to potential tenants. This handful of people will run your multi-million-dollar investment.
Finding the right individual to fill your manager position is absolutely critical to facility success. Follow the advice below to recruit and hire the best person to lead your self-storage operation.
What You Want
What should owners look for in a self-storage manager? Industry experience is great, but it’s definitely not the most important thing. There are some personality traits I always look for, including the ability to work independently, switch from a sales role to customer service at the blink of an eye, and to make good, commonsense decisions. Beyond those, the skill set should be tailored to the property.
For instance, a new facility that’s just opening will need a manager with a lot of sales and marketing experience. You want someone who can create referral relationships with other local businesses and represent you at networking events, someone who’s driven by success from sales.
Conversely, a 700-unit property at 95 percent occupancy needs a manager who pays close attention to detail, is organized, is driven to improve the bottom-line net operating income and has really strong customer-service skills. It’s vital to determine the skill set you’re seeking before you begin the recruitment and hiring process.
The smartest self-storage owners are always recruiting, even when they’re out to dinner, at the grocery store, looking for vendors for a home-repair project, or at the doctor’s office. Always keep business cards with you, and don’t be afraid to hand them out when you recognize great salesmanship or terrific customer service. Ask those potential future employees for their business cards as well.
When a position opens at your facility, post it in several locations to get as many candidates as possible. Online sites such as Indeed.com (pay-per-click), Craigslist.com (free) and Monster.com are quick and easy ways to gather résumés. Your local newspaper likely posts classified ads online as well. Sending an e-mail blast or posting openings on Facebook may be a good idea, but be careful not to worry your tenants about changes that may be coming.
I’ve had some success posting fliers at our property and on community bulletin boards. You can also reach out to colleagues or friends to see if they have anyone they can recommend.
As you gather résumés, look for these elements to help you weed out unqualified applicants:
- Length of stay in previous positions: Longer stays with previous employers are a good sign that those companies were happy with their work. Also, people who stay in their jobs longer are usually more reliable and easier to keep happy.
- Experience working with customers: This experience could be in retail, sales or service. The goal is to find someone who knows how to listen to customers, empathize with them and make them feel good about their decision to do business with you.
- Decision-making experience: Our industry is unique. There aren’t many manager positions with so much autonomy. Make sure the candidate has experience in dealing with tough situations and making good decisions on the fly.
- Social media profiles: You can get a good feel for someone’s personality by perusing their social media postings. For example, someone who rants about his job is probably not the person you want to hire.