The Advantages of Having an On-Site Property Manager
The self storage industry has continued to evolve over the years, but it seems as though that evolution has sped up drastically in the last 5-7 years as technology plays an ever increasing role. There is a push to minimize the human element in storage as much as possible. However, there are still many advantages to having an on-site property manager, especially at large self storage facilities. Below we'll go into more detail about some of the upsides to keeping on-site managers as a key staff person at your facility.
Provide Personalized Customer Service
One of the top reasons to have an on-site property manager is to have a dedicated individual on the front lines in serving the customer. This starts with when the customer first arrives at the facility to rent. IF properly trained, your manager can greet the customers with a smile and provide that personalized touch that your competition won't have if they only meet customers by appointment only. Not to mention, many times once a customer has decided they need storage, they desire to move quickly. If you have staff there waiting and the store down the street isn't staffed, that customer is yours for the taking. The Baby Boomer generation still typically likes a personal experience, and you'll be in a great position if your on-site manager can provide that.
Answer Phones and Take Reservations
In addition to the automation trend in storage, another trend gaining popularity is the use of call centers. While these can be a great tool for owners, they also come with their own set of issues. For starters, these call center employees are fielding calls from many different facilities all over the country. Unfortunately they don't all have an intimate understanding of your specific self storage property and sometimes customers can pick up on that. They won't know how to give local directions to your facility or answer local questions. These call center folks can still take reservations and sometimes handle rentals over the phone, but only if they have real time access to an UP TO DATE management software. If that's not happening, they can't be effective.
That said, if you have an on-site manager that intimately knows what is happening on site they can give customers the real time and accurate information they need. Also, because these on-site managers typically live in the area of the facility, they can easily discuss specific to self storage property and the town/city where it's located. Because self storage often attracts customers that are on the move, it can be a great resource for potential customers.
This may seem obvious, but the biggest advantage in having a on-site manager is the ability to sell to potential customers in person. This can go far beyond just renting units. On-site managers have the opportunity to upsell customers throughout the rental process, including selling insurance, locks, packing supplies, and other retail items. Having a presence on site also enables your self storage facility to provide other services such as moving truck rental. The ability to add these types of services can add significantly to the site's bottom line.
As much as we would like all of our customers to be enrolled in electronic autopay options these days, the fact remains that there are still folks who just don't operate that way. They may write you a check or may even walk through the front door once a month with cash. Either way, sites that don't have managers risk losing these customers that don't have the desire or often the means to pay electronically.
Keeping your Property in Tip Top Shape
If you do employ an onsite manager, part of their job every day should be to walk the property. This gives your facility the advantage of being able to react to any maintenance needs in real time. Many "unmanned" facilities rely on walkthroughs every one to two weeks which can be problematic in the event of a major issue on site. Even with minor issues of trash, landscaping, etc., if your on-site manager is able to address these problems in real-time, they can help in always putting your best foot forward with current and potential customers.