About the Author
Hello, my name is Matthew Eoff. I have been in self-storage since 2011 after I served five years in the United States Army as a Military Police Officer as a Sergeant with a deployment to Iraq in 2008. It was actually during deployment that I realized my love for Real Estate.
After the Army, I luckily found an assistant manager very close to my apartment in Modesto, CA. It was there that I realized there was so much potential in self-storage professional and personally. One thing that stood out to me was the lack of training and support for employees and a lack of education the company shared with their tenants.
I remember the training manager saying "I am not suppose to train you on this but I am going to because I can see you will utilize it and it will help you in the future." While it was a major compliment to me that this manager would go out of their way to teach me something, I thought to my myself "why in the world wouldn't everyone be trained on everything so that way the facility would have the strongest team?" Why wouldn't an employee, who was hired to represent the company, not be able to make decisions based on their training? Why make the employee feel like they are useless, dumb or uneducated?
It could be the military in me but I always believed that everyone should be pushed to their full potential, everyone should be trained the same way and that people should be able to make decisions based on their training but be held responsible both positive and in a negative/corrective sense. I believe in check and balances but I also believe in employee growth and goals.
At that point, I forced myself to learn everything about the industry so that way I could show that I loved self-storage and I was not afraid to make decisions when need be. I started to get involved and started asking a lot of questions just to see where the person's mindset was.
All that hard work paid off when another opportunity presented itself to me at a different company. They were looking for a manager that would float to different locations. While that may not seem like a big deal, it meant that I would be exposed to a few more locations and I was able to see how they operated. Needless to say, I took the position.
I remember the first day. The manager there literally told me that "The district manager told me that I should just let you take over immediately cause you have experience." Again, I felt like this was a major compliment, I was still angry with the lack of support and training this company presented. While storage has basics, the company should still have their own set of training policies and vision that they share with their employees. Employees need to know what the company's why factor is.
After some time, the general manager left the company and it opened the door for me to get my first taste of leadership in self-storage. I figured there would be some sort of a transitional period but nope. Thrown into the fire. That really didn't matter to me. The military teaches you to adapt and overcome. My only problem was that I needed to ensure the company was covered legally. Like my eagerness to learn about self-storage, I wanted to learn the other elements of self-storage including human resource, legalities and marketing. I immediately turned into the person who marketed the four locations, paid the bills (which prior were always paid late even to the point where vendors didn't want to assist us anymore), processed payroll, hired/fired employees and even represented the company during court hearings in small claims. With owner being absentee, I knew that it was up to me to ensure the company was moving forward. While it was a rocky road at first and decisions had to be made, I knew I was better because of it.
I immediately knew I had to create a training program, set company policies and re-brand the company into something that consumers would be happy with. This was the type of company that had no structure and no community relations. After the first year, all four locations had a net profit gain of over 10%. It wasn't just me but rather because a system was created to build confidence in the managers.
After I felt like all was accomplished, another opportunity was presented as an Area Manager overseeing six facilities. This opportunity seemed to be the dream job in the making. While it started off like that, it ended up being a nightmare, ethically.
This company seemed to be more structured. While they also didn't have a plan for policy or training, they were experienced in Real Estate. They had someone paying the bills and running payroll. Yes, that was my excitement.
With the six different locations, came six different types of personalities. One that stood out to me was the managers who have been in the industry for a long time but didn't want to change anything. They immediately voiced their displeasure with another Area Manager. They felt they knew everything even though their numbers were low and they didn't take corrective criticism very well. Upon reviewing operations at all the facilities, I noticed that every location was during things differently. Even their leases were written differently on Sitelink. These locations were close and the same state so there was no need for this. It is the basics that usually throw the facilities off.
Overtime, I got feedback in confidentiality from the managers. They would informed me that the owners would always change things, would harass them on their time off, would not hire people based on their martial status (or if they had kids) and they were shocked that I was still there since I had a plan. Prior to me being there, they had gone through four Area Managers in approximately two years.
I started building the managers confidence by holding conference calls, training them one on one and getting feedback. Yet, there was one location that refused to attend the conference calls and seen the training as a waste of time. When seeking assistance from the owners, they struggled it off saying that they were good people. While that was true, I knew it was unfair to have expectations for the majority of the locations but not for this one location. The managers would share their frustrations with me but there was no much I could do. No matter what the choices were, they would be rejected or ignored.
As frustrations grew with the lack of leadership, change needed to be made. I started to voice my concern over ethical and unmoral decisions by the owners and I was terminated shortly after. I would rather share concerns than work for a company that belittles their staff.
After some time of reflecting, I knew I could make a difference in the self-storage industry. I then started this website to help those who feel like they are not getting the support or simply just want to learn more.
I hope this website serves you well in not just your career in self-storage but also in life.