When – And How – To Fire Your Self-Storage Manager

It’s a simple fact that many self-storage managers can’t make the cut. Some people are just not manager material. And there’s no point in hiding from the fact. There’s an old saying that “it’s easier to change people than to change people” and that’s as true today as it was when that motto first was invented. So how do you get rid of the failing storage manager and make way for the new candidate?

How to measure failure

The first issue is if you are fairly analyzing the manager’s ability. A successful storage manager wears many hats: sales manager, collections expert, facility operations specialist and customer service whiz. But that needs to be refined back to actual statistics and that revolves around systems. Every self-storage property should be operating from a set of assumptions called a “budget” and the failing manager is one that simply can’t hit the numbers expressed in the budget for the facility (or in select cases, has personal problems that are so severe that they outweigh their ability to hit the budget).

Why you can’t delay in taking action

One thing is for sure: when the manger is failing you can’t procrastinate. Every day is worse than the day before. Most facilities only have one manager and a weak one can destroy your entire investment. While a great employee elevates your property’s performance daily, a bad one weights you down like an anchor. The absolute worst thing you can do – when you spot a failing manager – is to pretend that there’s nothing really wrong.

Doing your homework first

Before you even think about firing or disciplining any manager you must first become an absolute expert on employment law in your state. In some states you have to give any employee a written or verbal warning or other notifications of your dissatisfaction. Do not, under any circumstances, do one thing until you know exactly what you’re doing. Still concerned? You need more input before you take action. Don’t forget that employment law is becoming a huge part of American business, and any fired manager might just call an attorney off a late-night TV ad. Don’t put your business in harm’s way.

Hiring the replacement before you take action

And while you’re learning all about employment law, you need to also be finding your manager’s replacement. You can never have a situation in which the property has no manager at all – that’s like a ship without a captain and is almost certain to run aground. In fact, before you fire the existing manager you need to find the next one, train them and have them in the office at the same time the old manager is leaving.

What you must never do

Here’s a short list of the things you never do when a manager is failing:

          • Pretend they’re doing OK
          • Procrastinate before taking action
          • Violating your state’s labor law by firing them before making the appropriate notices
          • Not having the replacement manager ready to go before firing the existing one
          • Not being ready to repeat the process if the new one fails, too


Firing a failing storage manager is an essential job. But there’s more to it than just yelling “you’re fired” like on The Apprentice. Make sure that you do everything 100% correctly for the sake of 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.