Why On-Site Management Sets Our Self Storage Facilities Apart
Running a self storage facility is more than a full time job. Many of Lockaway Storage’s facilities feature an apartment on site that houses a manager who is often at the facility after hours. This added level of care makes our self storage facilities fell more at home! Below are three on-site managers who have years of experience caring for renters.
What do renters say when they learn that the facility has an on-site manager?
The most common response when they find out is: “Oh wow”, “That’s nice” and “I like that”. I also tell them that not all, but some tenants have 24 hour access, with the provision that they are required to use the “If you see something – Say something” rule. And that they have my cell number just in case! A quick look out the second floor windows before I go to bed and right after I get up let’s me see how everything is on property pretty much.
What is it like being an on-site manager?
The morning traffic reports have become very uninteresting! Haha! I’ve been lucky in that the three Lockaway Storage sites I’ve lived at are in urban areas but after 5 PM and weekends almost feels like living in the country! Hardly even hear the Airport landings here anymore! Guess you get acclimatized. There is actually no stress about “going or getting to work”. Have really never had anyone intrude or violate my privacy.
Do you feel like you are always at work?
A little bit, but you get into a routine. The quote “there are advantages and disadvantages to everything” pretty much says it all. I do have a strong sense of being responsible for the property, and like Travis said last night, “I want you to run it like you own it” is how I’ve run all my properties. I know I’m probably not the only manager that’s been asked if I own the property, but it comes up a lot.
Do you have any stories that could only happen to an on-site manager?
Once while taking out the trash to the dumpster after hours I came across a young man and his mother arguing and obviously upset. Seems they had driven from Houston to San Antonio and he’d forgotten the keys to the unit, when I came back from getting the grinder to cut the lock I over heard her say the he should be damn glad I was around! His response was Mom! He always here!
This is my 3rd On-Site or “Resident” Management position since retiring from the Navy in 2010, actually living on the site where I work in Boerne, Texas. My wife and I enjoy living on the site even though it does come with some added responsibilities and being available after hours when tenants require assistance. I have chosen companies to work for that view their self storage facilities as customer service driven businesses and permanent fixtures within a community, as an extension of that they want a more professional representative as the face of their company and maintaining an On-Site manager position shows that level of commitment.
A large percentage of our tenants view it as feature or benefit to them, and when they ask about it what they are asking are questions like “What if I have problems after hours?”, “What if my gate code doesn’t work?”, “What if I need an additional unit on moving day and it ends up to be after office hours?” and for some it just makes them feel safer knowing that someone is on the property when they’re here at night.
My location here in the Texas Hill Country is a very low crime area but it still matters to a majority of new tenants that someone lives here on the property.
Before I became a self storage manager, we were customers for over 20 years at different facilities due to our military travels and we only stored at places that had an on-site manager, mostly for my peace-of-mind for my wife, if I was deployed and my wife and children were on the site I wanted to ensure someone was there to help even after hours. My experience with those managers, as a customer was that it felt like they really cared more about their facilities, took a bigger role in the maintenance, upkeep, and appearance. It was like they took more pride in those things because it reflected on them as much as it did the company, and those kinds of ideas really resonate with me.
As far as day-to-day differences for on-site managers, I choose to do all the lawn care/landscaping work for my location – it all actually feels like my yard.
I’ve also got to lead several large upgrade and maintenance projects here at the facility and people joke about walking to work being a short commute in a community where a good percentage of the population has to drive 45 minutes or more, but for me, it doesn’t really feel like I’m always at work, as I have some very clear guidelines for tenants when they rent with us and most everyone respects that. When a problem does come up after hours, like a gate malfunction or someone needing an additional unit to help them complete their move – I’m happy to do those things and it makes a huge difference for those tenants, they feel like they’re getting a very personalized customer service experience and that’s something I believe you just hear more often at facilities with on-site management.
Customers are really happy when they learn that I’m an on-site manager. I get happy, positive reactions. Relieved sometimes, because they like knowing someone is there. Usually met with curiosity. They want to know, “Well, what is that like? You live where you work?” and “How do I get a job like that?” Also, when you tell your customers that you live on site, it really helps seal the deal. It’s a great selling point and helped me many times. I work normal office hours. We have a call center that captures the calls after hours.
If I am here, the way we are set up, I can be in the living room watching TV and I can see the gate, because there is only one entry and exit, it’s pretty easy for me to walk into the office and check to see what’s going on by the gate activity. I can check voicemail and email. I can assist customers without speaking to them, so that is a nice advantage. During the busy season, which is late spring, during the summer, when there is a high demand of storage units and a lot of traffic, you’re working hard.
My scheduled days off are Saturday and Sunday, which is really nice. If I feel like I need to get away, I just get away. I love it. I knew what I was getting into.