Looking for a self-storage job and don’t know where to start? There is a lot to consider. The position of “Storage Manager” has evolved over the past 30+ years. In the early days companies often saw employees as “caretakers”. You would push open the gates in the morning, take payments, rent units, sweep out the dirty ones and then push the gates shut in the evening and that was it. Things have evolved since then.
Storage companies vary greatly and so do the managers – how do you see yourself fitting into the picture? Are you looking for a big company or a “mom and pop” storage company that has only one or two facilities? Many storage companies are also shifting from management teams, traditionally a husband and wife to a single manager who might have someone come in once or twice a week and help get things “caught up”.
What the size of a storage facility means:
- If it has only a few hundred units, this might not be a good “fit” for a high energy person.
- If there are hundreds of units, like 500 or more units, this is great to keep you moving all day. The customers will fill your day and when you do have a quiet moment, you will be busy taking care of your other work.
- A facility might have over a thousand units or even two thousand units. You need to be high energy plus a team player. You are going to be working shoulder-to-shoulder every day with your team mates to keep things operating smoothly.
Ancillary businesses a storage facility might include and you have to operate:
- Rental trucks. Sounds easy, yes? Sign here and hand them the keys to the rental truck? Think about what is happening behind the scenes. Are you physically capable of crawling up in trucks, sweeping the trash out of the cab, washing windshields, checking the oil, sweeping out the cargo box, folding/loading/unloading dozens of moving blankets? What if you have to repeat this 5 times in one day? What about tow equipment and trailers? It is a separate industry with rules, paperwork, software and procedures. Keep that in mind
- Postal boxes. Sure, distributing the daily mail to a few hundred boxes sounds easy enough, maybe even cheap entertainment. Be ready to learn the rules of the USPS. The United States Post Office partially controls those boxes. Most likely you will be shipping some mail out also. You will need to learn about shipping and the specific paperwork that you must properly complete to USPS standards to rent the boxes.
Office warehouses. Some sites have office/warehouses that local business owners can lease to operate their business.
- Car wash. You might be emptying the money from the machines, doing basic maintenance including hosing down the bays, emptying the vacuum machines, refilling soap and other products, emptying trash bins, picking up trash, restocking vending machines and tracking the inventory.
- Propane sales. Are you comfortable filling propane tanks when it is really hot, cold or rainy outside?
- Wine Storage. Are you responsible for setting up events for the customers using wine storage?
- Find out when the company expects you to work. Many companies expect their Primary Manager to work on Fridays and Saturdays which can be the busiest days of the week at a storage facility. Are they open on Sunday? Does that fit your schedule?
- If you were looking for a free apartment with free utilities, you might have to look at the smaller companies or “mom & pop” sites.
- Many larger companies and newer storage facilities are eliminating the onsite apartment. So you might be able to continue to live in your own home and drive to work which generally means a higher hourly wage than an onsite manager but be prepared for the daily drive.
- Do you want to be “in-charge” and make up your own rules? Run the site with your own “flavor” – check before you say, “I do” to your employer. Larger companies have already determined most of their operational guidelines, goals and rules. Sure, they will listen to your input but remember, you’re joining their already established team. You are going to have to prove yourself first as a good employee, and then make the well thought out suggestions and wait for the suggestion to work through the chain of command and be reviewed.
- At smaller “mom and pop” sites, if the owner trusts you – you might be impressed at how much latitude you they might afford you in contributing ideas to daily operations, marketing, specials, pricing, landscape etc.
- Don’t assume the benefits – be sure to ask and get it in writing. Large companies can afford to offer more benefits. “Mom and Pop” sites might be expecting you to bring your own health insurance.
- 401 (K) – if this is important – make sure you check and see if they offer it. Find out if you are vested immediately or if there is a waiting period.
- Health insurance – if you are retired, this might not be important. If you are not retired, or have a family, this might be very important. How long do you have to wait to qualify for health insurance, what is the cost, what quality of coverage will you receive? Is Vision and Dental offered?
- Life Insurance – might be included as a benefit. You might have access to long term disability coverage through a 3rd party. These are all things worth asking about when you’re applying for jobs.
- Vacation time – how long until you can begin to use it? How much PTO is there?
- Days off – If you are hiring as a team, which is also disappearing in larger companies, do you enjoy the same days off or is one person providing a day off for the other team member? Are the days off predictable?
If you drive to work, how far is the drive, how long will it take during the specific time you will be making the drive? If an alarm goes off at the site, are you compensated for mileage and time to respond? Are you required to be available if an alarm is triggered? Who responds if you aren’t available?
- Learn about the bonus program. Do you get a percentage of the gross or net merchandise sales? Do you get a commission for renting a storage space? A commission for achieving a low level of delinquency, for achieving a high level of net sales? Is there a “Christmas” or “holiday” bonus?
Where the Hunt begins:
- Shoe leather is always a good option. Visit some local storage facilities and talk to the Managers already working there. They frequently know when someone is hiring even if it is the competition.
- Check Craigslist. Craigslist is a very affordable place to advertise when help is needed, so you might find listings there. Search “Self Storage”, “mini Storage”, or “storage manager”
- Check Indeed.com and other websites
There’s lots to think about when looking for a job at a storage facility. Hopefully these bullets help you ask the right questions of yourself and of your potential future employer.
If you’re interested in a position here at Storage West be sure to check out our Careers page.