The Pillar of Success in Self-Storage Facilities: Valuing and Keeping Exceptional Managers

When it comes to the prosperity of a self-storage facility, no team member holds as much sway as a proficient manager. Unfortunately, some facility owners overlook the significance of not just having a good manager but also retaining them long-term.

The Transformative Power of a Competent Manager

An exceptional manager does far more than merely oversee day-to-day operations. They ensure optimal occupancy rates, 100% collections, and vigilant liability management. They are instrumental in maintaining the facility's appearance and operational efficacy. A skilled manager is a game-changer for loan approvals, accurate appraisals, and even ensuring a profitable selling price for your property.

The Damaging Influence of an Ineffective Manager

Conversely, a subpar manager can wreak havoc on your investment. From declining occupancy to ineffective collections, they can lead your facility into a downward spiral. A poor manager could even cause loan defaults, fines from regulatory bodies, and diminished property value. The long-term damage can be both costly and stressful.

The Recipe for Retaining Top-Performing Managers

Research suggests that exceptional managers are motivated by three primary factors: financial rewards, autonomy, and intrinsic motivation to excel. As a facility owner, your role is to cultivate an environment that nourishes these motivations. Set performance objectives, offer competitive compensation, and allow your manager the autonomy to navigate daily responsibilities. Although it can be challenging to relinquish control, especially when you've invested heavily in the facility, this freedom often results in better overall performance.

Monitoring Without Micromanaging

Even as you grant autonomy, having systems to monitor your manager's performance is crucial. Focus on tracking four key metrics: occupancy rates, collections, facility condition, and budgetary adherence. Employ technology, like HD video cameras, for periodic inspections and schedule monthly catch-ups to review performance against the budget. These metrics and meetings help you maintain control without stifling your manager’s sense of independence.

Mistakes That Can Derail Your Relationship with Your Manager

While good managers are inherently valuable, they’re not oblivious to their worth and opportunities elsewhere. Underpaying or micromanaging them could easily drive them into the arms of a competitor. Likewise, undermining their judgment—be it questioning their daily activities or doubting their decisions regarding customer relations—can tarnish your working relationship and trigger their departure.

But Don’t Forget Ronald Reagan

One of President Ronald Reagan’s best quotes was “trust but verify” and that means you can’t completely delegate your future to your manager. Constantly check on their success or failure by monitoring the macro results at the property. Micro-managing is never a good idea but not keeping a system of oversight is the recipe for disaster.


Managers are the linchpin of your self-storage facility's success; they deserve to be treated as such. Consider them as the quarterbacks of your business operation—without their leadership, success is elusive. By recognizing their value and fostering an environment for them to thrive, you’ll not only benefit from a well-run facility but also enjoy a loyal, long-term relationship with a key player in your business.

Frank Rolfe has been an active self-storage investor for around two decades, with self-storage units in many states throughout the U.S. His nuts and bolts knowledge of what makes for a successful self-storage facility has led to a three-decade career without a single failed property.