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Resident Self Storage Managers: Pros and Cons

January 7, 2021

4 min

Self storage facilities take a lot of attention. Cleaning, customer service, recordkeeping, maintenance -

Wouldn’t it be easiest to have someone who just lives on the property?

We’ll explore the pros and cons of a resident storage unit manager in this article so you can make an informed decision when choosing a manager!


Why Would You Want a Resident Storage Unit Manager?

Hiring resident managers has been a regular practice in the self storage industry since the inception of the industry in the late 1960's.

Owners will sometimes hire a married couple—with each person working variable amounts and and dividing responsibilities for office work and maintenance.

With the labor market being so tight, offering a place to live on top of a job can help you find a quality manager. If you cover rent and utilities, you’re offering a lot more compensation than almost any competitor could match!

Pros and Cons of a Resident Storage Unit Manager

If zoning laws don’t permit on-site housing, some facility owners purchase nearby homes or condos for the manager’s use.

Due to increasingly capable security technology, automation technology such as kiosks, more capable self storage websites, and call centers, resident manager jobs have been slowly declining over the past decade.

Many storage facility owners no longer feel the need to have a manager living on site, but there are still some serious benefits!

Even so, by looking at the self storage talk forums it is easy to see that opinions are divided on the matter.

Pros of Having a Resident Storage Unit Manager

Most of the advantages of hiring resident managers are straightforward.

For example, someone is always on call and on-site to deal with problems quickly at all hours. This directly improves your customer service and customer experience.

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You and your tenants have an added sense of security, as the difficulty of breaking into the facility undetected is higher than at a facility with non-resident managers. Greater peace of mind enhances the customer's experience.

Further, resident managers live and work at the facility, giving them a sense of responsibility and ownership in the business. Creating a sense of pride in the facility and affinity to the storage brand that they represent can both increase the manager’s performance and their satisfaction with the job.

According to John Manes, it's a good way to acquire better storage manager talent. Offering to cover most living expenses is a great perk that will draw in quality applicants, which can be a huge boost these days.

Lastly, the employee turnover rate is going to be lower because of how tied resident managers' lives are to the job. However, this can be a double-edged sword which brings us to the disadvantages of resident self storage managers.

Cons of Having a Resident Storage Unit Manager

While the fact that resident managers' lives are closely tied to the job can be an advantage, it can also be the biggest disadvantage.

Where someone lives and where they work are two of the biggest components of their life. If the storage unit manager you hire isn’t a good fit, it’s a much bigger problem than with a non-resident manager.

When it's time for them to move on, it can get messy. Firing a resident manager or couple is exceptionally difficult because you’re evicting them as well. 

If the manager doesn't want to leave, they won't be working but will be occupying the on-site living quarters. It can be very uncomfortable for a new manager to assume an old manager's job while they still live on the property.

Next, it's easier for managers to neglect their responsibilities. While this problem can arise with non-resident managers, it's much easier for a resident manager to call it an early day and go home. After all, it's only steps away.

Dealing with sickness and vacation can be harder if you’re relying on one or two people to do the job all the time. If you have no other managers on staff, you’ll need to hire and train a relief manager whenever your resident manager needs some time off.

Finally, there is the bottom line to consider. Increasingly, storage owners are finding that it is more cost-effective to use the living space that a residential self storage manager requires as rentable unit space instead.

Potential managers might jump at a residential opportunity for the same reason the operator may opt out - it’s expensive! Covering someone’s living space and utilities takes a lot of money.

Making the Decision

Deciding whether to have a resident manager can be difficult and subjective.

Some in the storage industry have great success with residential management, while others have horror stories. However, both tend to rely on anecdotal evidence.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to have a resident manager rests with you and depends on your unique situation. The best way to decide is to reach out to as diverse of a group of people in the storage industry you can and consider their advice.

From there, make your decision based on the opinions rooted in situations that most closely resemble you.

StoragePug is a modern marketing company for self storage. We create intelligent marketing websites that allow you to rent units take payments through your facilities’ webs

To learn more about choosing the right manager and running your self storage facility, try these:

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