Paying Your Managers - Self Storage Manager Compensation Structure

April 3, 2024

Desk full of scattered papers
4 min

The US unemployment rate is near historic lows - which is great news for the country!

But it makes it harder for storage operators to find a good manager. Being a manager can be a great job, but it’s not exactly the flashiest option out there.

Only 10% of the country even uses storage, so there’s got to be a large number of excellent potential managers who won’t even think of us when they start job searching.

So, how can we make hiring a manager easier? How can we make the job more attractive without upending our budget?

A good manager will make your facility a ton of money. In almost all of the storage success stories we’ve heard, a stand-out manager was the catalyst.

Good managers get good reviews, and good reviews are worth a lot of money

Whether you’re manning the facility or you’ve hired someone else to take care of it for you, the performance of the person behind the desk is more important than any amenities you could offer.

But - a bad manager can hold your business back. And when you’re hiring someone new, it’s really hard to tell the difference (otherwise, we’d all just hire fantastic managers and be done with it).

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Plus, with the unemployment rate so low, you’re competing with a huge range of businesses for quality employees. That means offering higher pay just to get any resumes at all.

So, what should we do? How do people find these fantastic managers, and how do they keep them?

Why is hiring a storage manager so hard?

Storage operators face a few significant challenges when looking to hire a long-term storage manager.

We’ve heard nightmare stories of recruits not showing up for their interviews, changing their minds after agreeing to work for you, and some that agree to work with you then just don’t show up at all!

quote: why hiring is so hard

Here’s a summary of reasons you might find hiring difficult:

  • Storage facilities are often in rural areas where the talent pool is smaller than in big cities. 
  • Our budgets can be smaller than other similar businesses, so hiring a new employee is a bigger commitment. And we can’t afford to just lump money at the problem
  • The job is hard! There are lots of other options where the person won’t have to deal with quite the same amount of work and responsibility.
  • Not everyone wants to deal with the public. Managers need to be good with people, even if they aren’t natural extroverts.

None of these are dealbreakers, but add them all together, and you’re fighting an uphill battle to secure an incredible manager.

Sales 101 for Self Storage Managers

How much do storage managers make?

Based on information from Glassdoor, Zippia, and ZipRecruiter, self storage managers can make anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 a year - a range that’s pretty much useless for knowing what to offer in your city.

Hopefully, you have a decent idea of what the going rate is in your area, and you can work from there.

One trick is to browse job listings! See what the competition in the area is offering, and (if you need a new manager) you’ll need to at least match that, if not improve on it. 

Remember, if you’re hiring from the general public, they don’t know you or your business. They’re going to look for the one that pays the most first.

We don’t want someone who’s just coming in to collect that paycheck, though, and small operators may not be able to offer as much per hour as the REITs do.

There are ways around these limitations. 

The solution? Tie the pay to the performance.

Paying for performance

We’ve heard this from many different operators (and some managers) - the best way to get a manager who helps your business grow and also will stick around is to give them a stake in how the business does.

That can look like:

  • Commissions tied to rentals made
    • Be careful with this because if your facility fills up, it no longer works!
  • Bonuses for every 5-star review
  • Base pay on total facility income
  • Incentives to sell peripheries (boxes, locks, etc.)

We’ve even heard of operators sharing in ownership with a very strong manager! 

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If your manager’s compensation is tied directly to how your storage facility performs, you can potentially pay them a lot more - provided you make enough money to do so.

Not only that, but this type of self storage manager pay structure provides a strong incentive that isn’t just “if you’re terrible for too long, you’ll get fired.”

Self storage facilities need managers that are motivated to perform above and beyond. Mediocre managers will lead to mediocre facilities. You might be able to survive that way, but if you really want your business to grow, you need a manager who wants to grow too.

Looking to learn more? Check these out!

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

Are you turning leads into rentals?

Download Sales 101 for Self Storage Managers to up your conversion rate and fill more units!

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