Role of an Operations Manager in a Self Storage Business
Operating a self-storage facility requires first-hand knowledge of how a business works and how operational processes impact the day-to-day functions of your company. Operations managers require skills in the distinct areas of running your self storage business.
An operations manager has to have a fundamental understanding of revenue management, sales, marketing, hiring, lien laws, and the other parts of the complex machine that keeps your business running. In addition to that, an operator has to define markets, determine rental rates, choose the best advertising, understand online marketing, and keep expenses reasonable. This all has to be accomplished while closely monitoring the bottom line. It’s a big responsibility, and you need a person who can handle it with ease and efficiency.
What to Look for in Your Operations Manager
Hiring the right person to manage the complex operations of your company is a critical decision. This person will not only be the face of your business, but is one of the small group of people handling your multi-million dollar investment.
As a front-line worker in your business, the manager should look professional, have excellent communication and sales skills, a focus on customer service, and a deep knowledge of your company. Look for a person who can solve problems, and make on-the-spot decisions.
A good operations manager not only works to keep your business competitive, but knows how to make your customers feel important.
Your Operations Manager Should be Versatile
An operations manager has to be multiskilled and decisive. Here is a short list of the skills you should look for in your operations manager.
Managing revenue to maximize return requires planning, know-how and a good understanding of the market. Your operations manager should have insight into your customers as well as your business. When to raise and lower street rates and when to add or remove specials depends on availability of space, customer demand, and urgency.
The good news is that small- to medium-sized self-storage operators can invest in a digital revenue management system that will provide them with the right technological tools to compete in the current landscape. The system should understand the market, predict customer activity, and measure customer price reactions so that when prices fluctuate, the operator can respond quickly.
Sales and Marketing
Self storage is typically thought of as a service business as opposed to a sales business. You provide extra space on a short-term basis to individuals and businesses. Your operations manager needs to be able to collaborate with your in-house marketing or marketing agency to put the customer at the center of everything. Marketing works to attract leads, and your operations manager works with the office staff to turn leads into paying customers.
For example, your operations manager and team design regular specials, pricing and other customer incentives, and then collaborate with marketing to create a campaign that includes an interactive website, social media, advertising, and much more. The idea is to attract leads that will be directed to the store team to convert to sales. Self storage, like every other business, runs on sales, and your operations manager has to work with marketing to facilitate the process.
Understand the Vendor Relationship
The self storage industry uses vendors that provide services that keep their businesses running smoothly. Your operations manager has to recognize how vendors can be best used to enhance the company’s services. Developing good working relationships with these vendors is an important aspect of keeping the company running effortlessly. The major vendors generally used by self storage companies are: a call center, operating software, a rental platform, and a credit card processing company.
Revenue from rent is not the sole income of a self storage facility. Your operations manager has to be familiar with the non-rental revenue that your business generates: ancillary income. Late fees, administrative fees, rental trucks, tenant insurance, protection plans, and moving and packing supplies are all examples of ancillary income.
State Lien Laws and Contracts
Almost every state has a self-storage statute giving the owner of a self storage business a lien on the stored property of a delinquent renter. An operations manager should fully understand the legal requirements that apply to lien sales, so that auctions are conducted properly. If your business participates in an illegal auction, you could end up in a costly legal battle.
An operations manager should be aware of all applicable paperwork that is needed to complete a self storage transaction. Lease agreements for storage units, vehicles, watercraft, and storage insurance are a few of the forms that are used in the storage industry.
Maintenance and Curb Appeal
The exterior appearance of your facility, also known as curb appeal, is hugely important. Your operations manager has to facilitate the maintenance and upkeep of your facility.
Be sure that the facade is clean. Keep doors and windows clean, and the landscaping should be well tended to help attract prospective customers to your facility. Cleaning and maintaining the units and office, and picking up trash on a daily basis is a must. Your customers won’t be happy if they get a flat tire in the middle of an already stressful move because nails, screws, and other debris have not been swept out of the driveways and parking areas. Remember the old adage, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
The right operations manager should be adept at keeping all the parts and pieces discussed in this article working together to keep your business running smoothly. It all boils down to operations being a finely-tuned machine and having right person to keep it working.