Advice for Interviewing Self-Storage Managers

Man interviewing a storage manager over the phone

I have known Carol for over 3 decades now and I always use SkilCheck Services to telephone shop my self-storage managers. With her experience and training skills, most of my site managers and relief managers score 80-100%; and since she knows my company, Mini-Management Services, places self-storage site managers, area, DM, and regional managers nationwide, she asked me to write something for her Blog on interviewing managers. So, here is my professional advice…

The Resume Looks Great…Now What?

After you receive a manager’s resume, you already know the basics such as how long the manager has been in the self-storage industry, where they worked, and what job skills they have.  Usually, the first step is the initial telephone or Zoom interview.

Over the years I have created an Interview Checklist so I ask everyone I interact with the same questions to determine if they are a good match for my client and their facility. Obviously, you already know from their resume how many years of experience they have, where they worked, the software they know, and the number of units they have managed.

If their resume does not list these, then these are the first questions I ask, followed by the occupancy and delinquency levels at their current or previous facilities they worked at. I typically follow up by asking what their current wage is, as well as the bonus program and medical insurance, if any were offered. Next, I ask if they can pass a background, credit, or drug test (if necessary) and what their previous employers would say about them.

These are some of the basic first steps. I need to know if the candidate will fit in at the facility I want to place as a manager. After these questions, I move on to more questions that will help me determine what kind of manager they have been and how much expertise they will bring to the table.

The Questions I Ask Are…

  • MARKETING: Have you done or are you willing to do any sales and marketing such as visiting or contacting local businesses, apartments, condos, new home developments, mobile home parks, local colleges, etc., to market services to those that may need storage? And if so, have you done this type of “belly-to-belly” marketing before?
  • FACILITY EXPERIENCE: If the facility is new, have they opened a new facility, and what was their occupancy at 6 months or 1 year? What type of marketing did their company do to market their facility and what do they feel contributed to those occupancy levels at the 6-month and/or 12-month period? What type of marketing materials did they use (pens, note pads, flyers, etc.), and how often did they follow up after their initial contact?
  • COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Did they belong to the local Chamber of Commerce? Did they attend meetings? Did they sponsor a Little League Team, softball, or local high school sports team? And with all this marketing and community involvement, what results did it achieve?
  • STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: What do they feel are their strengths, what do they bring to the table to be a professional manager, and did it bring success to the facility? Usually, they’ll say “customer service; they like working with the tenants and offering good customer service.” If they have any weaknesses, what do they feel they may be? What do they feel they could do to improve their weaknesses?
  • CROSSED-TRAINED: If I am looking to place a resident manager team position, I ask, are you “crossed-trained”—can the “yard person” work the office and do move-ins and move-outs and make collection calls? Can the “office person” do lock checks and sweep a unit as well as run the office?
  • WHAT DO THEY LIKE ABOUT BEING A STORAGE MANAGER: When I ask this question, I get the answer that they like working with people; they like helping people solve their storage needs and they like that every day is different.
  • WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AT YOUR FACILITY OR YOUR LAST FACILITY THAT YOU WORKED AT: A clean facility is usually the number one answer, as well as, keeping the occupancy levels up and the collections down. If they opened a new facility, the answer may be that they were at 60, 70, or 80% in ‘X’ amount of months. If the facility needed help, the answer may be that they reduced delinquency or increased the occupancy in ‘X’ amount of months.
  • WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE: To make more money is probably the third most common reason I get. The number one reason is their facility has been sold and the new company is bringing in its own staff. The second reason is that they want to move closer to family, grandchildren, or aging parents.
  • WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME: I ask this as a “closing question” because you can learn a lot about people if you ask this question!

Why All the Questions?

Obviously, not every telephone or Zoom call goes exactly the same way. However, by asking questions, you get to know a little more about the candidate you are interviewing beyond what is just on their resume! If you don’t like what you hear, then I wouldn’t spend any more time going through the background or reference checks. Just move on to the next possible candidate and hopefully, you will find that perfect match.

Next comes the hiring and training program, and of course the all-important SkilCheck Telephone or in-Person Shop, and Carol’s fantastic training videos!