Working the self-storage trade isn’t always a breeze— just ask Justin Baker of AAA Mini Storage in Watsonville, California. He was brought on last year to take the reigns from a managership rife with negligence and embezzlement that led AAA to default on its finances. In effect, Justin explained, “I was there to keep the company afloat until the new owners took over.” He faced an uphill battle from day one: “We had no filing system, no computer. We rebuilt our tenant base off of checks, and re-signed leases one by one.”
Through hard work, creativity, and an understanding of current marketing trends, Justin has been able to pull his business out of the depths and solidify himself a spot in the self-storage blog pantheon of Managers of the Month.
In less than a year, Justin has brought the facility’s occupancy rate from a middling 55% to just under 90%. While there are many factors that contributed to his success, Justin said implementing an online presence was a necessary step. Since launching their website in September, Justin said AAA is reaping the rewards of a 21st century marketing approach.
The facility is now present on Facebook, Yelp and Google Places thanks to Justin’s efforts. He monitors these profiles carefully, and cautioned that diligence is necessary for maintaining a facility’s position on the web: “Any web presence that you try to create, you have to take an active role in.”
Justin’s managerial philosophy doesn’t stop at online marketing. Before taking on his position at AAA, he had years of experience in his family’s business, Baker Brothers Furniture and Appliance. The key skill he picked up from the business, which has been in operation in Watsonville since the late sixties, was how to treat customers.
“Any consumer is looking to stretch their dollar as far as possible,” Justin posited. He said the best way for a business to fulfill this need is through excellent customer service. “We feel if we treat people right, we can sleep well at night,” he unintentionally rhymed.
In addition to regular tenants, Justin enjoys business from distribution companies and cleaning services. He’s also the proud manager of six band practice units, which have been modified to include electricity. Housing musicians has been a tradition at AAA since the mid-80s, and according to Justin, it makes the facility unique in his area. In addition to providing a competitive edge in the Watsonville self-storage market, Justin said, “It’s awesome because we get to listen to live music.”
AAA is still in a rebuilding phase, and Justin is hard at work repairing doors, fixing leaks, replacing sheet rock, and countless other tasks. But Justin, who is simultaneously attending Cabrillo Community College for a business degree, has big plans for AAA’s future. He’s gotten involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and is working to solidify his facility’s position in the local business scene, an important facet of Watsonville’s cultural makeup. Once the funds are available, Justin intends to contribute heavily to the community, including donations to local schools.
Our sincere thanks to Justin for sharing his managerial perspective, and best of luck for his efforts at AAA Mini-Storage. If you know a manager who deserves to be recognized, drop us a line! Comment below or reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.