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Fifteen Proven Methods to Improve Manager Performance
Posted 9/14/2017
Author Kevin Howard
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In his best seller, Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey states time and again that you must give an employee positive reinforcement in order to improve performance. The author's byline is the old proverb "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". In order to "teach a man how to fish", you must give him information, criticism and positive reinforcement. In order to make your employee successful (and thereby your company), you must constantly put him or her in win-win situations.

The following are win-win situations as they have related to self storage management. They were not created out of shear genius, in fact, they were created mostly out of manager suggestions and trial and error. Most have been in effect for more than 20 years, some for 30 years. They are the result of more than 41 years combined experience with over 400 storage facilities.

1. Make Your Manager Your Business Partner

Average last year's gross monthly income. Share this with your manager and give them a bonus based upon an increase every month over that average. We use 5%. Your manager now operates your facility as a business and thinks of income collected each month rather than occu­pancy or specials or fear of raising rates. It makes them more cognizant of collecting delinquencies.

2. Set Goals With Your Manager

As a team, set weekly, monthly and annual goals. Review at least monthly in person and weekly by phone. The result is the same as using the previous method.

3. Conduct Selling Exercises

With your manager, take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the left-hand side describe the features of your facility. On the right-hand side list the benefits of each of these features. Discuss how you can list the features and explain the benefits to potential customers. Role play until each of you can give a good explanation. Conduct this exercise at least once every three weeks.

4. Informal Breakfast Meetings

This works with one manager or ten. In an informal manner you can communicate sales tips, role play or even bring in guest speakers. It allows your managers to share ideas and lets them know that you think their ideas for improvement are important.

5. Seminars

Have your manager attend a half-day or even one-day seminar. To cement this newfound knowledge and make it more meaningful, have them explain the seminar in one of your informal breakfast meetings.

6. Regular Recognition Awards

A plaque means as much as a dollar. Our plaques read "For Outstanding Service to Our Customers at ...", These can be presented at company functions or simply in person at the facility. By the same token, if a customer sends a letter of thanks to the managers, we frame it and put it on the wall of their office.

7. Best New Idea

Offer a continuing challenge to im­prove your company. Provide a bonus for the best new idea for a better way of bookkeeping, sales, maintenance, etc The managers are always seeking ways to improve.

8. Picnics and Parties

Whether large or small, any company should provide regular get-togethers away from the company business. This allows a method of recognition in a relaxed atmosphere. You care enough for them to get together and in particular, it makes self storage managers feels they are part of a team and a bigger effort.

9. Test Phone Calls to Managers

Two to four times a month, use a form and have someone test call your managers as a customer. Evaluate their sales ability with this form and then share it with the manager and discuss ways to improve and most importantly the good things they did achieve. We tell our managers that the form will never be used against them, it is only a method to improve. In an open, trusting atmosphere, the managers are eager to see their evaluation and seek ways to improve.

10. Test Calls to Competitors

As a customer and with your manager, once per month, get on the same phone line and call the competitors as a customer. We have found that the biggest benefit of calling competi tors is our managers improve their own sales performance. They learn from other good managers and seek to eliminate the bad habits of bad salespeople.

11. Test Customers

Using the same methods as the test phone call, have a friend visit the facility and even rent a space as a customer. Interview your friend afterwards and share the information with your manager. Frequently, your friend will tell you things that your average customer will not and you can learn ways to improve the facility.

12. A Surprise Day Off

Do not announce it, just give your managers a surprise day off for their efforts. This gives you a chance to know what your customers feel about the facility and the manager. It also allows you to do an audit and an in-depth look at the bookkeeping.

13. Manager's Monthly Newsletter

You can enclose a newsletter with bonus checks at mid-month. Each newsletter extends a congratulations on some­one's anniversary or a birthday announcement as well as for outstanding sales achievements or delinquency control. We share new ideas that have been presented in the last month and always put forth sales information.

14. The Personal Touch

Send handwritten thank you notes or congratulations from time to time. The managers know you took the time to recognize them, not just another printed form letter.

15. Check Your Vacates

Once or twice a year, collect all the ledger cards from the move-outs from your facility for a month. Call each former tenant and ask them how they were treated, any ideas for improvement, would they rent again, etc. Make notes and share these with your manager. As a public relations gesture, send them a thank you letter offering a discount for re-renting any time in the next year.

We have learned all of these methods through trial and error. Once again, they are no stroke of genius, it simply takes time and effort to put them into place. As a result, we have an extensive number of job applications from other managers and enjoy outstanding facility performance.

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