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January 7, 2021
Having a resident manager has been a regular practice in the self storage industry since the inception of the industry in the late 1960's.
Most often, owners hire a married couple—with each person working variable amounts and and dividing responsibilities for office work and maintenance.
Typically, an on-site apartment is provided for the manager (with utilities included). 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.
Even so, by looking at the self storage talk forums it is easy to see that opinions are divided on the matter.
This article examines the pros, cons, and subjectivity of having resident managers at your facility.
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.
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, increasing their motivation to keep it in good shape. Their sense of pride in facility and affinity to the storage brand that they represent is greater as well since it is where they live and work.
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.
Lastly, the employee turnover rate is likely 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.
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. Most people, if given a choice, would only change one of these things at a time.
When it's time for them to move on, it can get messy. Firing a resident manager or couple can be hard because they are being evicted 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. When you hire a married couple, you’ll need to hire and train a relief manager. They can cover for vacations or if one or both managers fall ill or are hospitalized.
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.
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.
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