When self storage service began in the mid-1970s, resident managers were icons in the industry. Properties that had fences required someone to push the button to open the gate for customers. Security cameras were not common so having managers live on site increased the comfort level for customers. It was a good start for an industry in its infancy.
But self storage has matured and the Mom and Pop era is fading faster as companies become more professional, efficient, and technically savvy. StorageMart President Cris Burnam said the trend for residential managers is on the decline and that’s a good thing.
“In the early days, you needed someone to open the gate and close it behind you,” Burnam said “but PIN–accessible gates provide the same service to customers more effectively. Easier solutions are what customers demand.”
“It’s a matter of evolution,” Burnam continued. “Over time, operators started to see that this business model didn’t fit anymore.” Here are a few reasons why more self storage owners are turning away from resident managers
New construction and soaring real estate prices have made it more expensive to expand existing facilities and open new locations, so on-site apartments are being converted into additional storage or retail space, which provides a higher return per square foot.
High-resolution video cameras, PIN code gates, and the internet have made renting self storage easier and faster. The time savings allows managers to focus more on customer service and less on the mechanics of operating self storage.
Smaller Job Applicant Pool
Resident couple-managers are becoming harder to find. “How many people in the potential talent pool want to work side by side with their spouses? And how many of those couples are also looking for a new home? The numbers just get a lot smaller when you go down that road,” said Carol Krendl, founder and CEO of SkilCheck Services, a self storage consultant. When residential managers retire or quit, there’s not an easy solution for running the business. Employing multiple employees means there are people ready to run the store when staff members are on vacation, get sick, or decide to retire.
“The trend away from residential managers enables us to recruit and retain career-minded professionals,” explained Burnam. “And a committed, well-trained manager makes self storage an easy experience for our customers.”