Self-storage staff reviews: why, when and how to conduct them

Performance reviews are important vehicles for communication between a self-storage company and its employees. They don’t need to be complicated; they just need to be programmed and executed efficiently. Yet, they can be a source of anxiety for supervisors and staff.

Reviews help you clearly state your expectations for your team. They help you acquire a a better understanding of the strengths and motivations of employees, and this is an opportunity to recognize quality work or discuss shortcomings. They also create assurance that if a staff member is functioning at a lower level, you will have the information necessary to take the appropriate action to reprimand or fire that person.

From an employee’s perspective, reviews provide insight into how they can improve their performance. It also helps them understand their future plan within the organization.

An objective and fair review should be based on standard metrics, which can then be helpful in determining bonuses, promotions and increases. But this process only works if both parties are comfortable with the information presented and are not afraid of it. Rather than dreading it, you should take this opportunity to chat with your self-storage team about how they and your business can be more successful. Below are some tips to make your job easier.

The good moment

Let’s start with a few words about timing. Some self-storage companies conduct annual reviews on the hire date of each employee. Others like to schedule them for a certain time of the year so you don’t have to keep track of birthdays for that purpose. Whenever you decide to conduct your assessments, do them to all employees on a coherent so that your staff know that this is a regular and continuing part of their employment.

Remember, you can always give immediate feedback when something about an employee’s work stands out. You don’t have to wait for the annual review to give praise or constructive criticism. It is also important to keep a folder or document where you can jot down specific examples of good and bad performance and work habits throughout the year. This will allow you to write a review that really matters when the time comes.

Be prepared

Start by setting aside at least an hour with each self-storage staff member. Performance review shouldn’t be a 15-minute conversation.

Take the time to prepare. When supervisors wait until the last minute to put together an assessment, it’s usually too short, and there’s no substantive because everything is discussed in general terms, which doesn’t really help anyone. Many reviews do not provide details of what was commendable or below an employee’s efforts. They are most effective when they use examples that will help staff make positive change.

THEReview the employee’s performance throughout the review period, so you can discuss it meaningfully. If you don’t, they ‘I will know, and they will not take your comments seriously. Also, let staff know when the review is going, so they’re also ready to talk about any issues or concerns they have with the store or their job. Always give them time to talk.

What to discuss

It is always important to establish clear performance standards that describe the role of each employee, what is expected and how the work is to be performed. The same standards should apply to anyone in the same position. All criteria must be achievable and they must relate directly to the employee’s job description and the performance of the self-storage property. For example, you can see the following:

  • Physical occupation vs. store economy
  • Store income
  • Results of the last store audit and physical inventory
  • Defaults and auctions
  • Problem customers
  • Company and employee social media reviews (positive and negative)
  • Their latest mystery shopping scores, including what you liked and areas for improvement
  • Site cleanliness and office organization

To promote productive discussion during the assessment, it may be helpful to prepare some questions. Here are a few to spark conversation:

  • What do you hope to achieve in your warehouse this year?
  • What do you think of your recent mystery shopping scores?
  • How can I help you improve your sales and service performance?
  • What resources or assistance do you need to reach your sales goals?
  • What will be your biggest challenges in achieving your work goals this year?
  • How can I manage and help you more effectively?
  • What are your long term career goals and how can we help you achieve them?
  • What new skills would you like to develop this year?
  • Is there any additional training we can offer to help you learn these skills?

You can also ask your employee to prepare a self-assessment before you meet. This can be useful as it gives them the opportunity to reflect on their own performance during the year. Often, employees are harder on themselves than their boss ever will be! They will also remember their highlights better throughout the year than a supervisor who has multiple direct reports.


When you need to criticize an employee review, be honest and straightforward, but careful. If there is a problem, don’t try to minimize it, as it can cause confusion. Give clear examples, then provide helpful, specific advice on how the team member can grow and improve their performance and self-storage business.

Also, keep in mind that the goal is to assess each staff member based on their role within the company and against a set of standards for their specific self-storage location. It is never useful to compare the performance of one employee to another, especially if they work in different properties. This can lead to unhealthy competition and resentment.

Finally, your assessment should focus on how an employee does their job and what is going on in the storage property, not their personality traits. Make sure the criticism isn’t personal and always associate it with work. When you make judgments about a person’s character, they may feel attacked and the conversation may turn unpleasant. For example, if the person is having trouble closing rental units, don’t tell them they are “awful to sell”. Instead, give constructive feedback on how to sell more effectively.

Performance reviews help self-storage owners, supervisors, and employees bring their ideas together and become familiar with which areas of the business are performing well and which need to be improved. If done right, they can be one of the best tools to improve plant profitability and foster a happier team.

Carol Mixon-Krendl owns SkilCheck Services Inc., which offers self-service storage auditing, mystery shopping, development and operations consulting, and sales training. She owns and manages over 35 storage locations in the West and is a frequent speaker at industry trade shows. She has also written over 100 articles for various publications and served on the boards of state and national self-storage associations. For more information, call 800.374.7545; E-mail [email protected].

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