<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1102164633252552&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Gabfocus Session | Best of the Best

Best of the Best: Finding, training, and retaining the right employees

Hiring and hanging onto the right team is harder than ever. In this Gabfocus Session, we dive into how our experts find, hire, train, and retain the right people for the job.

Featured Speakers: Kraig Haviland & Sue Haviland
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Operations
Focus: Owners
Aired: December 2, 2021
Duration: 1:08:34


If you don't have time to watch the whole Session, here are some of our favorite parts:

  • At 6:15, Kraig and Sue discuss the sources they use to find applicants for their open positions 
  • At 12:25, Sue explains the way she uses referral bonuses and the results she's seen from them
  • At 15:04, Kraig breaks down his interviewing practices and important questions to ask
  • At 16:30, Sue explains her own individual interviewing philosophies—including how to prepare other people to do the interviewing for you
  • At 20:40, Sue makes the point "You're trying to sell yourself as much as they're trying to sell [themselves to] you."
  • At 22:05, our panelists discuss their views on whether you should specifically hunt for applicants with self storage experience 
  • At 25:38, Sue explains how owners need to set the tone for their employees. "We need to be impressive, too."
  • At 26:26, Sue and Kraig let us in on their "deal breakers" when interviewing job applicants 
  • At 28:27, Kraig explains the importance of people skills: "I can't really teach people skills. I can teach storage skills."
  • At 29:02, our panelists dive into how to determine how many people you need on staff at a given facility
  • At 32:31, Kraig and Sue discuss whether or not it's still important to have managers on-site at your facility
  • At 35:50, the panelists answer on how long their interview process is and give a piece of advice: "Act quickly."
  • At 38:40, we learn about the training processes owners and operators use to prepare new employees.
  • At 45:00, Kraig and Sue tell us the important topics to cover during training and how to know when a new hire is ready.
  • At 52:05, Sue begins a discussion on how to make current employees feel valued enough to stay with your team.
  • At 1:03:57, our experts answer the Question of the Week!

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What's your biggest team-building advice?

"For me, in building my team, I never ask them to do anything they couldn't see me do. We all wear the same hats... And the constant feedback, good bad or otherwise so they don't feel alone... Find ways to keep them engaged."  -Sue Haviland
"I manage by letting people make mistakes. I let 'em breath, I give them space, and I'll circle back and I'll trust and verify. I always have a message of whatever you do, you can't break it... If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything at all." -Kraig Haviland


Gabfocus Takeaway

The behaviors, needs, and desires of job applicants are changing more and more every day. As an employer, it's important to keep up with those changes without sacrificing what it means to run your business well at the same time. The ultimate result of this shift is that it's crucial to act quickly and hang onto great applicants and team members. Job applicants have many options in today's job market, and self storage owners don't often have the ability to offer the same kinds of benefits as other companies with much larger teams. This is why proper training and support are important. Make sure you give your new hires the tools and support they need to succeed. Also, pay attention to making your existing team members feel valued—replacing them is harder than ever.

What are Gabfocus Sessions?

Gabfocus Sessions are virtual workshops for self storage owners, managers, and operators. Brought to you by the team behind Gabfest: StoragePug and Affordable Storage Guys Management.

Each session features hand-picked industry pros who will dive deep into relevant topics surrounding our industry, share best practices, and explore trends in the market. It's our hope that these sessions help you navigate your self storage business better during these uncertain times.

Want to learn more about self storage? Join us on select Thursdays for Gabfocus.

gabfocus logo

Questions Answered in this Session

  1. How do you find potential candidates?
  2. What kind of referral bonus do you give?
  3. What’s your interview process like? What kinds of questions do you ask?
  4. Should you always hire someone with self storage experience?
  5. Are there any deal-breakers to look out for when interviewing?
  6. How many employees per how many units? Is there a general rule to avoid over/under staffing?
  7. Are on-site managers still important?
  8. How long is the interview process?
  9. What is your training process like?
  10. What are the most important topics to cover for a new hire?
  11. How do you know when a new hire is ready for their role?
  12. What do you do to make existing employees feel appreciated?
  13. How do you coordinate with your team? What about with larger teams?
  14. How do you support your team when issues arise?
  15. How do you handle employee reviews and evaluations?
  16. What’s your biggest team-building advice?

Live Poll Results: What tools are most important to provide to your employees?




Meet your speakers


Kraig Haviland

San Diego Self Storage

Website: https://www.sandiegoselfstorage.com/
Email: kraig@sdss1.com

Sue Haviland

Haviland Storage Services

Website: https://havilandstorageservices.com/
Email: sue@havilandstorageservices.com

Got questions or comments for the panelists?

Our panelists will be happy to answer any questions you have. We hope you enjoyed this Gabfest Session. Talk soon!

We care about your privacy. Read our privacy policy to learn more.

Resources from this session

Awesome Quotes

“Once your operation is in place, you can become more dynamic with your pricing, but that requires data. You need some method of being able to record the data that you need to know whether your price is in the right place - whether you need to move it up or start giving some concessions.” - Warren Lieberman
“I never want to downplay to what someone else is doing. I'm better than they are, then I'm going to be worth a higher price. That's what value is. If you go out to a restaurant and get really good service, would you go back? Yes! What if it was pricier? You'd still go back because you got better service and a better product.” - Jim Mooney
"It's good to be informed on your competition. I don't want to ignore them, but I don't want to respond too strongly to them either." - Warren Lieberman
"We did a survey of 10,000 facilities on their pricing. We found out that two-thirds of those operators didn't change the price of a single unit of the course of a month." - Warren Lieberman
“Rate increases and value pricing are the number one ways to grow your revenue.” - Jim Mooney
"Tenants in more convenient units tend to be less price sensitive." - Warren Lieberman
"The size of the unit is only one aspect of what people are willing to pay for." - Warren Lieberman


Foundational marketing strategies to have in place - whether leasing up or stabilized:

  • Website
  • Set up listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Apple Maps)
  • Social Media
  • Establish Local Partnerships

Lease up marketing strategies:

  • Lead Generating Strategies (like digital ads)
  • Aggregators (Sparefoot, Storagefront, etc.)
  • Awareness Campaigns (like billboards, flyers, and sponsorships)

Your average customer value
Find the average stay length of all tenants. Next take your economic occupancy and divide by how many units you have. That will tell you what the average customer pays.

Multiply the average length of stay by what the average customer pays, and that's the average value of a customer.

For example, if a customer stays for 12 months and pays $100 per month, then their value is $1,200.

Your average lead value

Figure out your closing rate (or conversion rate) i.e. how many leads do you turn into tenants? Multiply that by your average customer lifetime value to figure out what your leads are worth. 

Pro Tip: see which lead sources are converting the best. It may be that certain sources have a higher conversion rate, so those leads are worth more to you than a source that barely converts.

Typical Lease-up timeline

According to our panelists, it's typical to see a 3-4% increase each month, putting your facility at 36% after the first year, and 72% after the second.

Alternately, you can look at your lease up goals through the lens of your units, aiming for 20 units rented per month.

For Nick and StorageMax, they pro forma their economic occupancy at 85% with their sweet spot at 92%.

Loved this? Share with a friend, manager, or operator who you think will enjoy this video.

Share your thoughts

Making Yourself a Company Asset - Manager Session