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The Roles in the Business of Self-Storage

posted Tue, Dec 01, 2015

The purpose of this article is show you an important new way to to look at your self-storage business. By seeing your operations from a new perspective, you will develop the means of making more productive strategic decisions.

Let’s get conceptual about the organizational structure of self-storage. Whatever you do in the business, just put it into parentheses for a while. Temporarily forget what your perceived tasks and responsibilities are in your specific self-storage. Here is an opportunity to change you mindset about how a successful self-storage business can be organized.

You have to start with an understanding of roles. Roles come before the people or the groups or the companies that fill them. Multiple roles can be filled by the same person, and multiple people can fill the same role. So, what are the roles for an independent self-storage buiness?

The first role is the leader. The leader provides the vision and direction for the company.​ Naturally, this role is usually taken by the owner of the property. The leader is always providing the direction for the company whether he or she is aware of it or not. This means that leaders who are not actively defining the direction for their team members are likely sending an ambiguous, detrimental message. For example, has the leader of your company told them the vision for customer retention? Is your goal to keep existing customers for stability or to turn over customers to push higher rates? If the leader hasn’t told them the objective, the team will not be taking the right action to achieve it.

​The next role is the director. The director oversees the implementation of practices and policies. In addition, the director makes sure that business requirement, e.g., payroll taxes, insurance, accounting, etc., are being handled. This role is typically fulfilled by the owner or the property manager. The crux of this role is communication and follow-up. The director must understand what the leader wants to accomplish, and the director must communicate to the leader what resources are available in order to reach goals. The director must also communicate the leader’s goals to the on-site staff. This communication is in the form of an action plan, and the director must follow-up to verify that the right actions are being taken.

​The most important role is the operator. This is the person who has the most interaction with prospects, customers, and vendors. This is the critical role for the self-storage business operation, and this role is filled by the manager. The operator is on-site to see that units are being rented and customers are being retained. The operator sees that the property stays in the shape necessary for units to be rented to prospects. The operator communicates with the director and the owner about resources needed to achieve stated objectives or about new challenges that need to be addressed. The operator is the identity of the business.

The last role is the support. These are critical on-site staff members who are surrogates for the operator. Support staff handle essential operations in the absence of the operator. Their key task is sales, i.e., renting units to prospects. It is their responsibility to keep regular operations moving and to report any extraordinary activity to the operator.

If a self-storage business does not have these roles sufficiently filled, the property is losing money and is being set up for bigger problems. For more information about how to fill these roles so that you make more money with less stress, visit us at www.selfstoragescience.com