One of the keys to success for a self-storage facility is employing competent, well-trained, motivated people.
Even if you offer great storage units and competitive prices, you won’t be able to keep current tenants happy or attract new ones if your facility lacks high-quality employees. But where do you find them?
Natolie Ochi, vice president of SKS Management, which runs storage facilities in California and Hawaii, said prospective employees are everywhere. Here are some tips on how to find them.
Check out retail stores.
Ochi said one of the places facility managers often find staffers is behind the counters at retail stores. These stores are a good place to see how well workers interact with customers. Every retail business you visit has a potential hire.
“I have known people who walk into a Starbucks or a car rental agency and they are so impressed by someone that they say, ‘If you ever are looking for a job, give me a call,’” she said.
Chris Kirwin, a member of the advisory board of the Minnesota Self Storage Association, agrees with that approach.
“Always be on the lookout in your daily routine for someone you think would be a good store manager,” Kirwin said. “[Find] a good people person, someone who looks like they have whatever they are doing under control.”
Another important quality is good grooming, since workers at self-storage facilities typically meet and greet customers, he said.
Rely on word of mouth.
Scott Reifsnyder, manager of Crosstown Stor-N-More Self Storage in Tampa, FL, said he relies mainly on word of mouth to find workers, but he sometimes advertises online, using outlets such as Craigslist and Facebook.
Another good strategy for finding workers is to let your customers know you’re hiring, he said. Many of the people Reifsnyder hires are tenants.
“Once we know we need somebody, we will just put the word out,” he said. “We have a lot of people who are interested.”
A winning personality is one of the most important things to look for in a worker, Reifsnyder said. Good phone skills also are key, since the phone often is the first point of contact between self-storage facilities and future tenants.
Take your time.
Although you might be in a hurry to replace or add a staffer, it’s best to take your time with hiring decisions, Reifsnyder said.
“Don’t rush,” he said. “I have made the mistake of hiring the wrong person. It sets you back. Take your time. It will pay off.”
One of the qualities he prizes in workers is the ability to please customers and sell products. Good salespeople aren’t always great when it comes to customer service, he said. Likewise, workers who are great with customers often aren’t as eager to sell products, such as moving boxes and packing tape.
Although most self-storage facility tasks can be learned easily, it typically takes a new hire about two months to become comfortable with the new duties and surroundings, Reifsnyder said. Be prepared to help them learn.
Keep employees happy.
Once you a hire great worker, you need to find ways to keep him or her happy, Ochi said. That includes providing good health care benefits. While that isn’t cheap, it’ll cost you even more to keep training new workers, she said.
“A lot of people [in the industry] don’t have good health benefits,” she said. “We pay 95 percent of health costs for employees, and we pay part of their family’s health costs. It’s expensive, but our employees are very appreciative.”