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Gabfocus Session | Somehow I Manage | Growing and Succeeding as a Self Storage Manager

Somehow I Manage: Growing and succeeding as a Self Storage Manager

As a self storage manager, you're juggling a lot of responsibilities - customer service, marketing, sales, operations, and everything else. What does it mean to be a successful manager? In this Session, we'll discuss ways you can grow, how to handle common manager problems, and processes you can implement to make your life easier.

Featured Speakers: Mark Skrzypczak and Terri Wood
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Operations
Focus: Managers
Aired: June 17, 2021
Duration: 1:25:03


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

  • At 6:30, Terri breaks down the normal day-to-day responsibilities of managers, and Mark tells us which of those are most important and why
  • At 11:30, Terri shares some of the best places for managers to get training and feel prepared for their jobs
  • At 21:50, Mark shares some practical tips on how managers can make a great first impression and why it's so important to the health of the facility
  • At 24:15, our panelists talk about how managers can "set customers up for success" with thorough and clear onboarding and orientation
  • At 28:30, Mark and Terri share how they prepare their managers for those inevitable, difficult tenant interactions 
  • At 34:15, Melissa shares her journey from manager to VP of Operations, and our panelists talk about the most important growth areas a manager should focus on
  • At 43:30, Terri shares some extra resources she uses to continue her education and training in self storage
  • As 52:00, Mark talks about how X uses KPIs to keep the team on track and working on the same goals
  • At 1:02:00, Terri talks about how managers and operators can stay on the same page and set clear expectations for each other
  • At 1:11:00, our panelists discuss the incentives their respective self storage businesses offer managers
  • At 1:15:00, we answer the Question of the Week

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What are the key qualities or skills that make a great manager?

"I'm always looking for a sales-focused individual! Someone who's confident with a great attitude. I want my staff to understand why a customer is there. I want to hire for attitude and train for skill. If you have a staff with the right attitude, they'll be able to get the job done. Sales acumen is essential, great customer care, and a really positive attitude are the biggest qualities we look at." - Mark Skrzypczak
" I'm looking for integrity. I need to be able to trust you. I can't keep an eye on everyone 24/7, so I need to depend on you. In this industry, there's not enough coverage to go around, so I need dependability from all my managers." - Terri Wood


Ideal Self Storage Manager Checklist

SSA Certificates

ISS Magazine

Atlantic Self Storage KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

  1. Retail Sales (box specials, bundles, etc). Average retail spend per rental.
  2. Autopay conversion.
  3. Insurance conversion.
  4. Inquiries to Hard Reservations to New Rentals.

Tracked with a daily/weekly tracker in excel.

Atlantic Self Storage Manager Incentives

  1. New Rentals.
  2. Hard Reservations.
  3. Retail Sales.
  4. Revenue growth YoY.

Gabfocus Takeaway

Managers are the core of a successful self storage facility. And, their job isn't easy. They're the first impression, the front lines, sales, marketing, customer service, onboarding specialist, admin, and everything in-between. Although it's hard to sum up what makes a great manager, both our panelists agree one has to have the right mix of positive attitude and work ethic. Managers that want to succeed in their roles need to have a "get it right" attitude, from customer service to how clean the facility is. Managers who want to grow, need to be looking for ways to always be learning, improving, and seeking out ways to diversify their experience.

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.

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Questions Answered in this Session

  1. What does the day to day of a self storage manager look like?
  2. What are the most important responsibilities of a self storage manager? Short term? Long term?
  3. What’s the best way for managers to get training and be prepared for their role?
  4. What are the biggest challenges or surprises that a manager faces?
  5. What are some practical ways managers can make a good first impression on customers?
  6. How can managers be better prepared for negative or confrontational conversations with tenants?
  7. Do you have any best practices for new tenant orientation or onboarding?
  8. What can a manager do to create a better tenant experience?
  9. What are the most important areas to grow in as a manager?
  10. Where do you get additional growth or training opportunities?
  11. How do you set goals and keep yourself accountable as a manager?
  12. Being a manager isn’t always exciting, how do you stay motivated and focused?
  13. How do you and your team set the right expectations for each other?
  14. What are some common challenges operators and managers face, in terms of their working relationship?
  15. How can operators and managers resolve disagreements about what to do at a facility or with a tenant?
  16. What are the key qualities or skills that make a great manager?

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




Meet your speakers

Mark Skrzypczak

Mark Skrzypczak

Atlantic Self Storage

Website: https://www.atlanticselfstorage.com/
Email: mark.s@atlanticselfstorage.com

Terri Wood

Ideal Self Storage

Website: https://www.idealselfstoragetx.com
Email: terri@idealselfstoragetx.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!

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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%.

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Making Yourself a Company Asset - Manager Session