Master the Basics

I’m in the process of writing a new training manual for my company. Here is the INTRODUCTION.

Welcome to the RPM Storage Management team. You were selected because you display the skillsets and attitude we believe will make you successful in the self storage industry. We are committed to doing our part in giving you the proper training and tools needed to achieve great success in self storage management and we are confident you are just as committed to putting in the necessary effort to grasp, retain and utilize what you take away from this training.

This two week initial training is designed to prepare you with the basic knowledge necessary to begin operating a self storage facility efficiently. As mentioned, you were selected because you display the skillsets and attitude needed to be successful, but we don’t expect miracles. Becoming a “super star” manager is a process that takes time and devotion, both yours and ours. By no means will a two week training program make you an “expert”, that takes time and consistent effort, but it will prepare you to take the next step.

To make the most of this training period we highly recommend you take detailed notes. The primary methods of training during the next two weeks will be observation in week one and application in week two.

On opening day of spring training practice, legendary football coach Vince Lombardi begann-COACHES the training by teaching the very basics. He would hold up a football for all to see and proclaim to the team members, “This is a football.” He would then go on to explain the very basics of the game. Along this same line, perhaps the greatest coach in sports history, the late Coach John Wooden who coached his UCLA basketball team to ten national championships in a twelve year period, began his training camps by giving detailed instructions on the proper way for players to tie their shoes.

These simplistic approaches to training may hold little appeal to some, but you can hardly argue with Coach Lombardi’s or Coach Wooden’s results. Each of these legendary coaches set out to be the very best in their respective sports. Self storage is no different. If you are going to be the very best, you must begin with the basic operations. If you cannot do the basics better than anyone else, you will never achieve greatness.

Take for example the simple act of cleaning a self storage unit to make it rent ready for the next customer. You can go into any market and shop a few self storage facilities and you will find very few, if any, self storage units that RPM would consider “rent ready”. The truth is, most self storage managers approach the task of cleaning an empty unit with only one item – a broom. While a broom will be needed for the task, it is hardly going to accomplish the goal of being the “best” at this very basic operation.

Think of it this way: if you want to get your vehicle washed but don’t want to do it yourself, you have 2 choices; you can drive around until you find some civic or youth organization holding a carwash fundraiser or you can go to the place that specializes in providing detailed service. The difference in the expected levels of service between the two is enormous. You’ll pay much more at the premium carwash than you will at the fundraiser, but you will get in return, and will settle for nothing less, than a “new car” look complete with air freshener, armoralled tires and detailed interior that even got the dust out of the cracks and crevices.

To be the very best in the self storage industry, that’s the way you have to approach even such a basic task as preparing a rent-ready unit. To be the very best, your job is not to clean the unit, but rather to “detail” it. The floor must be spotless. There must not be a cobweb anywhere in sight. There must be no dust on the walls. The door, lights and latch must operate correctly and easily. There must be no musty smell.

Perhaps the customer standing beside you has already been to two or three competitors and looked at their units. If so, chances are they have viewed some units that were “sort of clean” and perhaps a few others that “needed work” and possibly a few that made them think “Oh, there’s no way I’m putting my things in here.” When you open the door for them you want them to take one look at that empty unit and see an immediate difference from what they have already looked at. You want to give them a clear understanding that they could look at every storage unit in town and would never see one as clean as what you are showing them.

That’s how you become the very best. You must master the basics first. If you’re doing the basic things better than anyone else, you will be the best. Let me take you back a moment to Coach Lombardi. The Green Bay Packers of the late 1950’s and 1960’s had the smallest playbook in professional football. They didn’t run trick plays. They didn’t focus on trying to fool anyone. In fact, most times just by the formation of the offense, the opposing defense knew exactly what play was coming, but because they focused on doing the basics like blocking and every player doing his part, the defense was powerless to stop them. They had games where they literally annihilated the opponent while running no more than 5 or 6 different plays throughout the course of the game.

Coach Lombardi’s practice sessions were grueling. The team would run the same play over and over and over until every man was perfect in executing his part. The formula was unstoppable then as it is today and it works in self storage just as it works in football. Becoming the very best begins and ends with doing the basics better than anyone else. With that in mind, let’s begin your training to make you a super star self storage manager.

Posted in Business processs, Customer Service, Management, Self Storage, Training | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: MAJOR BIBLE THEMES

MAJOR BIBLE THEMES: 52 Vital Doctrines of the Scriptures Simplified and Explained bymjbiblethemeslg Lewis Sperry Chafer is a must read for any student of theology. With Chafer being the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, this was required reading at DTS. Recently I picked up the revised copy which includes work by John Walvoord who replaced Dr. Chafer at DTS upon his retirement.

In Chafer’s original 1926 introduction, he explains, “This book is in no way a treatise on systematic theology. In its preparation, a limited number of the most vital and practical doctrinal themes have been chosen, and an attempt has been made to adapt these brief discussions to the needs of the untrained Christian.” To that end, Chafer has been extraordinarily successful with this wonderful book.

Although not specifically structured as such, the chapters are in somewhat of a sequential order and may be divided into five main topics: The Bible, God – with specific chapters on each member of the Trinity, the fall and salvation of man, the Church Age and the period of post-rapture.

Each chapter follows a similar pattern and for the sake of this review I will detail Chapter 15, GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: HIS ADVENT. In the chapter introduction, Chafer explains that the coming of the Spirit into the world on the day of Pentecost must be seen in relationship to His work in previous dispensations. He then expands his doctrinal teachings with subchapters:

  • A. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
  • B. The Holy Spirit During the Life of Christ of Earth.
  • C. The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The chapter concludes, as do all chapters, with a list of questions (in this case 16 questions) to help ensure the reader has sufficiently grasped the concepts being taught. Corresponding scripture and verse is also cross referenced for each point of doctrine.

I have not yet cross referenced this reprint to my original book from Dr. Chafer, but apart from the addition of numerous scriptural passages and a few chapters combined from the original as well as a few new chapters, it seems clear that Walvoord’s primary contributions come in the later, post-rapture chapter. Walvoord has authored several books in this area including Every Prophecy of the Bible, The Millennial Kingdom, and Revelation commentary.

The book concludes with an Index of Subjects and Scripture Index. This is a book you will reference again and again, as I have for the past forty years.

Posted in Bible Doctrine, Book Reviews, Faith, Theology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Memorial Day

Memorial Day.

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The Tax Man Cometh

In Texas, on May 1st, county appraisal districts will be sending out 2014 property tax key_art_the_taxman_comethappraisals. In recent years, Texas small business owners have been hit hard and this year business owners, especially along the IH-35 corridor, will be hit even harder. Aggressive growth along the IH-35 corridor brings with it aggressive property tax appraisals, but self storage owners don’t have to take it laying down.

You can file a protest, but a misstep could end up costing you thousands of dollars and you may want to consider hiring an agent experienced in property tax protests. Tangible personal property that is used to produce income must be reported each year on a rendition – form 50-144. Filing a rendition puts you in a better position to exercise your right of appeal. If you choose to protest your tax assessment, it must be filed by May 31 or no later than 30 days after the appraisal district mailed a notice of appraised value to you. If you miss the filing deadline you forfeit your right to protest the assessed value of your property.

There are typically four types of property value protests:

  1. Excessive value – you believe your property is valued too high.
  2. Unequal appraisal – you believe your property has been assessed a higher value than properties of similar use and value.
  3. Failure to grant exceptions – you have the right to exceptions for such things as motor vehicles used for your business.
  4. Failure to provide notice – the appraisal district failed to provide notice of tax increase.

It is up to you to have what you need to prove your case to the ARB. You cannot go to a hearing and just say the appraisal district is wrong – you have to present evidence that proves the appraised value is incorrect.

When preparing a case, there are three different approaches you can take. Knowing and choosing the right approach is critical.

  1. The sales comparison approach.
  2. The cost approach.
  3. The income approach.

A case must be built that is persuasive, not emotional. Don’t pay more than you should. Seek consultation if you think your property has been valued too high.

Monty Rainey has 20+ years in self storage management and is the owner of RPM Storage Management, LLC of New Braunfels, TX. www.rpmstoragemanagement.com

Posted in Business, Self Storage, Taxes | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

CUSTOMER RENT INCREASES

There are many theories about customer rate increases.  Self storage owners and business graph with arrow and coins showing profits and gainsoperators are often second guessing themselves about when to give rent increases and how much of an increase is the right amount. Many times to correct answer is market specific, but I have found there are a few tried and true rules that work well in most situations.

I am always my most aggressive when it comes to customer rent increases in February and March, really for two reasons:

1.       In a typical market that sees typical market rate fluctuations, it is not uncommon for your lowest rates of the year to be found in these months. This makes it easier to adjust customer rates to match current rates without running as much risk of hitting the customer “too hard”. For example;

A.      In the peak months, current rate a space may be $99 and customer rate at $74. Getting them up to current rate is a 32% increase – much too big a pill for most customers to swallow so you have to either give them a smaller increase or run the risk of a lost customer.

B.      In the slower months like January and February, chances are you have reduced your current rate. In this example, say your current rate is $84 – now you’re only looking at a $10 rent increase to get this customer up to your current rate. You’re still getting a 13.5% increase, the customer is now at current rate and you run a much lower risk of losing the customer.

2.       The other reason why I am more aggressive in February and March is because the peak season is right around the corner. In the event the customer does move out, you know that unit won’t sit vacant for very long as opposed to a move out in October that may sit vacant all winter.

Another thing I want to mention is, unless a space type is at 100% occupancy, I rarely raise a customer to 100% of current rate. For example, if current rate is $89, customer is paying $79 I will only raise them to $87 or $84. This gives your manager the ability to let the customer know, even with the rent increase, they are still paying below the current rate.

As I mentioned, there are many theories regarding customer rate increases, and I’ve heard other theories that I like, but this method has always worked very well for me. Now is one of the best times to give rate increases.

Monty Rainey has 20+ years in self storage management and is the owner of RPM Storage Management, LLC of New Braunfels, TX.

Posted in Rent Increases, Revenue Management, Self Storage, Strategy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: THE NOTICER RETURNS

Usually I read anything new by Andy Andrews as soon as it comes out, but my work indexschedule has been brutal of late so I’m just now getting this new one. THE NOTICER RETURNS is a follow up of sorts to Andy’s extraordinary book, The Noticer where he first introduced the character known simply as Jones. Here Jones reappears into the lives of several south Alabama residents to help them find a different perspective.

Where The Noticer was all about having a different perspective, The Noticer Returns is about perspective and a whole lot more. Here Andy delves into some sage wisdom on many other aspects of life, primarily parenting. I’ll come back to that in a moment. Not everything here however, has to do with parenting, but rather with life in general and working our way through the difficulties. As always with Andy’s work, the reader will come away with a handful of nuggets that will leave you thinking, “Why didn’t I think about that before?” For example, we’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, when in reality, it is the small stuff that really has major impact on our lives. Those tiny, seemingly inconsequential, decisions that have a huge impact over time. Life is filled with these “small stuff” decisions like choosing to eat a piece of pie instead of an apple. Maybe you choose to watch some mindless TV show rather than read a book that might hold valuable information for you, or perhaps our most critical “small stuff” decision, doing something other than studying the Bible.

There’s one line in the book I simply have to mention and it goes like this: If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing something wrong. Why? Because most people are not obtaining results that are considered extraordinary. How true is that! Think about that the next time you find yourself “doing what everyone else is doing”.

Towards the end of the book Andy talks about how our reputation is determined by our thinking. It is excellent how Andy explains this; our reputation is determined by the kind of results we produce, our results are determined by the actions we take, our actions are determined by the decisions we make, our decisions are determined by what we think. The only thing I would add is that our thinking is determined by our vocabulary. We think in terms of words and if we have a limited vocabulary, we obviously have limited thinking, limited choices, limited actions, limited results and a limited reputation. If you want to change how you think, you need to expand your vocabulary.

As I mentioned already, an underlying premise of the book is about how to be a better parent. I’m not going to go into the multitude of lessons contained on that subject. For that, you just need to read this wonderful new release by Andy Andrews. You can thank me later.

Posted in Book Reviews, Choices, Growth, self improvement | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A&E Sponsor List

I barely even watch television, but when I do, it’s either football, something educational orBoycott A&E Sponsors Duck Dynasty. It’s nice being able to watch a family that is proud of its faith and not ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. With the explosive popularity of the show I’d say a lot of other Americans may feel the same way. That’s why the recent of actions of A&E really have ruffled my feathers. I look around and really have to wonder what has happened to America and just how much longer God will allow us to survive as a nation when we are so embroiled in apostasy.

We have a total lack of integrity in our leadership from the top down. Washington is wrought with scandal. No one seems to be held accountable, unless of course you are a Christian conservative, then you are fair game for the media and all of the pathetic special interest groups to demand you be tarred and feathered.

It’s really time we stand up as a nation and say, “Enough is enough”. Phil Robertson has every right to express his opinion. A&E arranged the recent interview with GQ magazine, they know Phil Robertson is a man of conviction, they know how he feels about certain issues, but the lure of the almighty dollar would not stop them from arranging an interview where they knew he would not give “politically correct” answers.

I know a lot of people are lighting up the phone lines to A&E to complain about their action, but that will only go so far. If you really want to put the pressure on A&E, you have to hit them where it hurts – their sponsors. I’ve done some digging and found this list. The list appears to have been originated by a Miss Brittney Pounders of www.clashdaily.com . I will add more sponsors to the list as I find them. I hope you will take the time to let these sponsors know how you feel about their continued support of A&E.

Make a difference!

Sensodyne: 1-866-844-2797

T-Mobile: Twitter @TMobile / 1-877-453-1304

Samsung: (PR department) samsungpr@edelman.com / Twitter  @samsungtweets / 1-800-726-7864

Motorola: Twitter @motorola / 1-800-734-5870 / 1-847-523-5000

Walgreens: Twitter @walgreens / 1-800-925-4733

 IHOP:  1-866-444-5144 / Twitter @IHOP / 1-818-240-6055

Macy’s: (PR Department) anne.keating@bloomingdales.com, 212-705-2434  / @Macys / 1-212-494-3000

Nokia: Twitter @Nokia / 1-888-665-4228

Microsoft: Twitter @microsoft / 1-800-642-7676

Verizon: Twitter @verizonwireless / 1-800- 837-4966

Bass Pro Shops: Twitter @Bass_Pro-Shops / 1-800-494-1300 or  1-800-227-7776

Progressive Insurance: 1-440-461-5000  / Michele_L_Moore@progressive.com

You can also contact A&E directly at  feedbackaetv@aenetworks.com.

Read more at http://clashdaily.com/2013/12/ae-list-advertisers-hit-network-hurts-wallet/#3OlwXFDOBJE1IIFl.99

12/21 update – I just learned Cracker Barrel Restaurants is the first of the show sponsors to cut ties with A&E. Read more here http://conservativeoutfitters.com/blogs/news

Posted in 1st Amendment, Duck Dynasty, Free Speech, Phil Roberetson | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments