Hiring Someone With No Storage Experience

Jon Fesmire |

When looking for new employees, you want to hire the best workers possible, and that generally means hiring people with prior experience in the self storage industry.

Meanwhile, potentially great employees are stuck in a catch-22 situation. They’d like to get into the self storage industry, but can’t find a job because so many places require previous experience, and they can’t get that experience without first working in self storage. Some may show a lot of promise and with a little bit of training, quickly become excellent and knowledgeable employees. Let’s look into hiring someone with no storage experience, based on what else they may offer.

Related Experience

There is a lot of experience related to working in self storage. Have they worked in retail? The retail industry develops sales, customer service, and organizational skills, as well as training on cash registers. That’s a solid start for self storage, especially if your facility has a combined store and office. Have they worked in real estate? Then they should be comfortable with computers and able to quickly learn self storage contracts.

When interviewing, ask potential employees how they believe their past experience is relevant to work in the self storage industry.

Consider the Position

Even when someone has experience in an industry, that doesn’t mean they have experience in every job. The manager will have different duties than most employees, though some will overlap. The maintenance crew will have very different tasks from the IT department, whose tasks will differ from those of the creative team.

So, consider how their past experience will help with the specific job. A maintenance person who used to do home repairs is probably highly qualified for the same type of job in self storage. As long as an IT person is well-versed in whatever operating system and computer hardware you use, they should do a great job, after a brief period of learning your specific software.

When I started working in the self storage industry as a writer three years ago, I had no industry experience. I did have years of experience as a professional writer and researcher. My knowledge about self storage has grown tremendously since then. The point is, if your potential hires are proficient in the essential, basic skills they need for a particular position, they can learn the rest.

Getting Along

When considering applicants for a particular job, whether they have industry experience or not, at some point you should have them talk to the people they’ll be working with. Consider these mini-interviews. Do they get along with everyone? What do your employees think of them? How well they will fit in with the team is another consideration that can outweigh self storage experience.

Getting Employees Up to Speed

In one fashion or another, all new employees will need training. Yes, those who have worked a similar job in self storage will need less training, but they’ll still need to be familiar with the way your facility does things. That actually brings up one potential advantage of hiring someone with no self storage industry experience. They won’t bring the specific procedures of their last job with them, procedures that might conflict with the way you want things done.

People new to self storage will need to learn the industry-specific terminology. We suggest you start with a basic list of a few dozen terms, and give them time to study them while at work. This will include terms like climate control, disc lock and cylinder lock, rental agreement, roll-up door, and administration fee.

Make sure that everyone has time for on the job training on the specific software you use. Often, a fellow employee can help with this during slower moments in the store. Take them on a walk or two around the facility, specifically when doing a door check. Even if this isn’t part of their job, it’s good for them to be aware of how that procedure works.

Some people are fast learners, and your new employees may surprise you.

Other Advantages

There are other possible advantages of hiring someone without industry experience.

First, they’ll be grateful that you took a chance on them. Sometimes, people highly experienced in an industry aren’t as loyal to a specific job and keep looking for something better, while someone new is likely to be loyal and stick around for awhile.

Second, and we hinted at this before, you’ll be better able to get them to follow your procedures to the letter, because they’ll be learning many of them for the first time. Also, the will want to work hard to impress you and to prove themselves.

Finally, since salary is generally based on experience, you can start them at the lower end of the payscale for that job. Yes, over time you should provide them with raises, commensurate with their experience. By the time they’re making as much as an experienced new hire would have, you will have saved some money in salary and gained a loyal employee.

Ultimately, hire the person you think will be best for the job. That may be the person who has been in the industry for years, but it just might be someone completely new to self storage whose other experience and traits outweigh prior self storage experience.