“Audit” is a scary word. I am hesitant to even use it because it makes me feel like the IRS coming to get you. I promise, I’m not scary, but I am thorough. So what should you expect during a self storage audit?
I use audits as a tool to find the errors in your business and fix them.
The point of an audit is to make the manager’s job easier and to give the owner a sense of comfort that his multi-million dollar investment is being run properly.
An audit isn’t about beating managers over the head for little mistakes. It isn’t about telling managers how to do their job. It isn’t about coming into a business as the all-knowing diva and pouncing all over their hard work.
I was once a manager of a self storage business. I know how hard the job is, and I truly believe that most self storage employees are honest, hard-working people, who want to do a good job for their boss and make their tenants’ lives easier. It’s true that some people are dishonest and will steal if they have the opportunity, and an audit is a great way to catch that behavior, but honest people have nothing to fear from an audit.
Most of the issues I find in audits are due to lack of training.
So many owners give new employees a few days to a week of training and leave them to their own devices. In my experience, it takes about three months to be comfortable, and a year to be confident in a self storage business.
I also know there are managers who were hired as the part-time person and promoted quickly when the old manager quit or was fired. They weren’t properly trained for the job, and the owner is hands-off, busy running other businesses. I approach every audit as an opportunity to help managers feel confident that they are doing a good job.
There are two types of audits: facility audit and operational audit.
You can read more about each type here: facility audit and operational audit.
No matter which type of audit you choose, they will both be a surprise for the manager. Audits are pre-scheduled with the owners, but employees should NOT be notified about the event. In the operational audit, I begin by mystery shopping the employees to assess their sales skills. After the mystery shopping portion, I introduce myself and spend a little time getting to know them.
Before I begin either audit, we chat about their work history, their goals, and any areas of concern that they have. My goal is to improve their performance and help them do the best job they can. I will pull all the reports that I need for your storage software and gather any keys or supplies, then begin my audit.
After the audit process is complete, I will prepare a report of my findings along with recommendations for improvements. It is the owner’s decision how the report is handled, but they usually choose one of two ways:
- Owner receives the report directly. I can visit in person and explain the report if needed.
- Manager receives the report directly. The manager’s responses are added to the report, then it is sent to the owner. I never remove any issue from the report based solely on the manager’s responses. It is up to the owner to decide whether something is allowed or if it needs to be addressed.
I recommend that a facility audit be performed quarterly and an operation audit be performed at least annually. These timelines can change based on the findings of the audit and the recommendations that I make. A facility audit takes 1-2 days to complete, with the report ready in 3-5 days. An operational audit takes 4-6 days to complete, and the report is usually ready in 7-10 days.