Pre-packing Tips for Storage Use

Packing may sound like a simple exercise, however there are many ways in which packing can leave us stressed out and dismayed. Even when it’s for something good, the packing process is often dreaded. When moving some of your household or business items packing is more important than ever, as the less you pack the less you may have to pay. So if you want to make sure that you get a great business or domestic storage deal make sure you take note of the following handy pre-packing tips.

Businesses
Check Archive Laws
Sometimes firms continue to keep box after box of files until there is just no more room left in the office. Storage then becomes a necessity which you have to build into your yearly budget. However, some companies spend way too much money putting things into storage that they don’t need to keep. So before you get on with your packing it may be worth checking on the reporting regulations for your business. If you’ve got decades of historic files, you may find that you no longer need to keep them.

Giveaways
If you’re a business that has ended up stuck with a load of old stock or promotional items that they don’t really need then why waste money putting them into storage when you could generate some business instead. There aren’t many people out there who don’t like to get something for nothing so depending on what you’ve got you may be able to work out a competition or prize draw which could get people talking. This will leave you with less to pack and less to outlay on expensive storage costs.

Donate
If you are packing up stock or old furniture that you haven’t got room for in your office or shop then you should really take some time to think about whether you really need it. It does not make good business sense to pay to store something that you’re not sure you’ll ever use again. Instead, you could generate a bit of good publicity by donating the things to charity. This not only saves you from expensive storage costs, it also helps you to improve your business image as well.

Households
Sanity Check
If you’re putting things into storage because you’re running out of room in your home then it may be time to sit down and think about what you really need to keep. While it can be hard to get rid of things with sentimental value, sometimes it can help to have a bit of sanity check. The less you keep, the less you pack and the less you pay out for a storage unit.

Flat Pack Furniture
Furniture can end up costing you a huge amount of money to store, especially if it is bulky or awkwardly shaped. That is why it is a great idea to dis-assemble your furniture before you store it so that you know it will take up as little room as possible. So if you have sofas, tables, dressers or chairs that can be taken apart, make sure you do so before you choose your storage space. It can be surprising just how much room this can save you.
With these little pre-packing tips you are sure to save yourself some much needed money, giving you a bigger budget to upgrade your business or home.

Ella Andrews

Ella Andrews is blogger and freelance writer, who is very passionate about home relocation and self storage projects. She’s been writing about similar topics for a long time, but is also constantly searching for new sources of inspiration. Other themes she is very fond of are also: Interior design, home decor and organizing.

Watch out – the Gen Y’ers are coming!

Quite often, as I speak to self storage owners about hiring new staff, I will hear them complain that “we had a young guy/girl working here recently but they lasted about 5 minutes…” and it usually leads into some vitriolic diatribe about how the “kids these days don’t want to work” and “want everything for nothing” and show “no sense of loyalty”…

Although this is a pretty gross generalisation, it is not without some elements of truth. Millennial’s or Generation Y’ers, or pretty much everyone born between 1980-1995 are definitely presenting today’s employers (and recruitment people) with challenges. The good news is that if you want to hire from this large pool of workers there are a number of things you can do to make it work for you both. Times have changed from when you (the boss) were looking for a job and what today’s job seeker is looking for.

Gimme a future!
Gen Y’ers will not be happy doing the same job day after day, year after year. They have been schooled to look for the next step in eighteen months to two years lest they become stagnant. They scoff at their parent’s generation that spent 20 years at the one company, and today’s employer needs to recognise this.

Gimme responsibility!
Today’s employees need to feel that they are an integral part of the system, not just a cog but part of the engine. They need to feel their opinion is valued by management and that the work they do has a significant impact on the operations (which is pretty accurate because these guys are probably going to be working at the front-line of your business talking to your customers).

I wanna be proud of what I do!
Chances are that the Millennial’s working with you will be earning significantly less than their peer group in other industries. So they need to feel pride in what they do and where they work, and be able to tell their friends that they are important and influential at work. They want to be proud of the work that their employer does within the community and their society. It is not all about work to these individuals – they want to feel they are making an impact on the community as well. So what are you doing to make the changes that will appeal to those who genuinely care about the world around them? One well-known organisation we know gives four hours off each week to do community or volunteer work with full pay. These are the elements that help you to craft a better company and a stronger value propositions to prospective employees.

I wanna be involved!
They want (no…demand) to be involved in the decision-making. They want and need to be trusted. The relationships that they develop with your suppliers and clients are critical to their happiness (and therefore longevity). As they are generally ‘people people’ this is what keeps them getting up and coming in to work. The booking system, the paperwork, computers and security systems are merely the processes that link the personal relationships between the employee and your customers. The more we automate the process at our businesses – the more we remove the interaction between the customer and the employee – the less opportunity for employees to develop relationships with clients and suppliers, and the harder it will be to maintain their enthusiasm and motivation.

Generation Y, not unlike the generations before them, would rather talk to one client a thousand times, than a thousand clients – one time.

Gimme the tools to do my job!
One area of your business that needs to be in absolutely tip-top order to appeal to this generation is your operating systems. Having grown up with computers, they are exceptionally techno-savvy, and won’t easily tolerate slow or antiquated systems. The flip side of this is that they will quickly learn more about your systems than you do (because they are IT-fearless) and can add some real value to your business in this area (and save you brining in the computer techs).

Gimme recognition!
This is the generation that demands and has become accustomed to instant feedback and gratification. They had graduation ceremonies from primary and high school, and received participant badges in every race they cam last in at school sports day. They have had parents and teachers offering positive reinforcement so recognition is as important to them as breathing. The recognition can take many forms, from supervisor-to-direct report, peer-to-peer, team-based or organisation-wide. The more creative, the better the impact. Ultimately, it is this recognition that will provide the extrinsic factor that can sustain employee performance and motivation. It’s the key ingredient to Gen Y’s sense of self-fulfilment.

Gimme Feedback!
The once a year annual review doesn’t cut it any more for the Gen Y’er. This generation expects feedback and validation more often, both formal and informal. They won’t be waiting around for their performance review. Although a recognised virtue, patience is not perhaps this generation’s strong suit. Similarly, loyalty for them is very much a two-way street. If they do not perceive loyalty from their employer (or if they perceive they are being taken for granted) then don’t expect them to take a bullet for you or your business.

Gimme flexibility!

Recognise that I have a life…and working here isn’t it!

This generation is comfortable with being held accountable for their results and they bring some evolved thinking into the workplace with regard to when and how they go about doing their work. They live in a virtual world and respond well to the notion of autonomy around work schedules, telecommuting, home office arrangements, and understanding that they desire true balance in their lives.

So next time you are recruiting for your for your facility…don’t be turned off by the smooth talking, self-assured, tech-savvy, and idealistic Gen Y’s….embrace their enthusiasm and idealism. Remember that with the huge talent exodus departing the employment pool with baby boomers retiring…they may well be the future of your business.

Richard Kellaway
Richard is Managing Director of Caretakers Australia and specialises in providing permanent and temporary managers for the Self Storage Industry. He can be contacted on 1300 659 068 or richardk@caretakersaustralia.com

Going green in Self Storage

Environmental sustainability, being green, is no longer just for minority groups, it is now mainstream with almost every major company in Australia and New Zealand working towards improving their green image. This is perhaps unsurprising as consumers are actually beginning to pay more for green products, or at least avoid those that have strong anti-environmental issues.

Everyone is think to some degree about the environment, whether it’s because of genuine concern about environmental issues, or because it is significantly effecting profitability of businesses through increasing energy and transport cost or the impact on marketing and product design. Every business from the smallest to the largest will need to consider how they impact on the environment, and how to reduce things like their carbon footprint. Even industries like self storage that are not big energy users will need to consider their energy usage, as their competitors will be and those that don’t will be at a commercial disadvantage. So what can you do to start going green?

Light up the environment
One thing self storage does have a lot of is lights, so an easy way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions is to get rid of all your incandescent globes and replace them with energy-efficient ones. These globes give off the same amount of light but last heaps longer and use less power. They may cost more up front, but over the life of the globe they are 3 or 4 times more efficient. You can also look at only lighting areas you need by connecting your internal lighting to motion detectors. Make sure your external lighting has a light detector, so it is not burning electricity during the day. Also consider your external signage lighting – does it need to be at full strength all night, can you switch some off between 1am – 5am? Can you put some of the security light on motion sensors as well?

Plant for clean air
Obviously planting tress and other plants is good for the environment; all plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. However watering plants excessively can offset this benefit, as can repeatedly changing the garden. Pesticides and herbicides are also environmental no, no’s. Plant drought tolerant native plants that are suitable for your local area. Use lots of mulch to keep the weeds down and install automatic watering systems with water sensors that don’t water when its been raining. While grass is attractive, it needs major upkeep, so keep grass to a minimum. Instead, install rock landscapes, which can also be eye-catching when you use a variety of rock colours and styles.

Every Drop Counts
Australia is a dry country and evidence suggests it is getting drier. Water management will be a major issue for the future. Self storage has a huge advantage here, big roof areas, with relatively low water usage inside. There is no reason why a self storage business should be using mains water for things like cleaning, gardening, or even the toilet. Install a rain water tank, make it large enough to get you through the summer even if it does not rain. With the roof area of a typical self storage business it will fill easily over the wet season. Install a pump and hook up the gardening system to the tank, even put a tap in the office or cleaning room.

If you have taps located around the site, run them off the tank as well. Some councils do not allow tanks in city areas to be used for drinking water but if you can, tap your tank into your existing plumbing and use it for all your water needs. Investigate the availability of rebates on water tanks before you buy. The return on investment is shorter than you think as water prices are likely to increase rapidly in the coming years.

Power Down
Computers are a necessity in this day and age but they can also be energy-suckers. Turn your computer off at night, not just onto power saver. Make sure the power saver settings are set so that if you do leave it on during the day, the screen shuts down quickly and the computer does into hibernation after a short period. If you have a server or security computer that needs to stay on, make sure the screen is always off, unless you are actually using it. Printers and faxes are the same, make sure any new purchases have an auto shut down mode and with older models turn them off at night. All those lovely security display screens you have in the office look great for potential customers, but when no one is in the office at night do they need to be on? Put in a master switch for your displays so they can easily be shut off at night and turned back on in the morning.

Green Fuel
If you are looking at getting a golf cart then go for the electric model, better still think about having a bike for staff to use to get around the facility and save the golf cart for showing around potential customers. If you are looking at forklifts are there electric options or walkie lifters that will suffice?

Cut Paper Usage
While you may not ever create a ‘paperless’ business, the internet and e-mail has actually increased paper usage in the average office. Start consciously trying to reduce paper usage. Copy and fax onto both sides of the paper. Re-use paper for draft documents. Avoid colour printing when black and white will do. Use recycled chlorine free paper. Think about whether you need to print everything that you do. Proof your documents on the screen rather than printing multiple drafts of the same document. Don’t automatically print every e-mail, only the ones that you NEED a paper copy of. E-mail your invoices and correspondence to customers that you have email addresses for – give customers the option of receiving correspondence by email only.

Make sure that the paper you do use and receive gets recycled. You can also recycle all your ink and toner cartridges and old mobile phones. In fact, most plastics are now recyclable.

Remodel the green way
If you’re looking to remodel your facility or build on, consider using environmentally sustainable products. From the light globes mentioned earlier to the low flow toilets and energy-efficient and environmentally friendly paint. Also consider using recycled or re-used products, sometimes these can really make a feature of your new building. Even when you replace your furniture there are more eco-friendly options available.

Go Solar
Australia was one of the pioneers of solar energy, yet in recent times we have been eclipsed by European countries (with less sun!) and even the USA in terms of adoption and innovation. Australia’s climate and global location makes it ideal for solar collection. Once again self storage is in a perfect position in terms of solar collection due to the large roof areas. Solar cells are a significant capital investment, but there are various government subsides for their implementation. When considering the return on investment, remember electricity costs are likely to keep rising. Solar energy is virtually free once you have incurred the capital expense. What’s more, it can actually be a revenue generator for you if you start pumping electricity back into the grid.

10 ways to hire poorly…

Hiring new staff for your storage facility isn’t as easy as it looks, but here are some sure-fire ways to botch it up.

1. Hire in a hurry
Your old manager is about to finish up, you’re going on a holiday and there isn’t anyone to replace them. These circumstances have disaster written all over them as the majority of recruitment decisions made in haste end in tears. Someone once said that ‘desperation is the worlds worst perfume’ and it certainly applies in hiring. As good candidates can be scared off by an overzealous approach by a prospective employer, take your time, try to think ahead and anticipate your hiring needs. Even if it means getting a relief manager or a caretaker in for a couple of weeks, then it is a small price to pay.

2. Write boring ads
In a candidate-short market when good people are hard to find, how you represent your business to prospective employees is directly linked to the quality of the candidates that you will get responding. IF the ad is boring, unimaginative and dull..guess what the quality of candidates will be like? If you have the creative instincts of a Siberian gnat, get someone else with the skill to write a good job ad for you, and make sure you stand out from the crowd!

3. Don’t bother preparing a job description
Going into the interviewing process without a detailed job description of the day-to-day responsibilities of the position, along with your expectations of the person in the role is like walking the high-wire without a net…you are going to come to grief. The more information the candidate receives about the role, the company, your expectations of them, and the precise activities of the position, the more likely that the person will work out well. Narrow the gap between their expectation and the reality of the job with lots and lots of information.

4. Make instant knee jerk decisions
“I can tell what a person is like in 5 seconds” is something I often hear from business owners and managers. Funnily enough – their staff turnover is usually very high so they get plenty of practise making bad decisions!

5. Have no interview process
Poor interviewers judge candidates based on how they look, or how nice they are. Candidates that tick these boxes usually get an easy ride through the interview, and any negative information tends to be glossed over. It is far better to have a standard set of questions and a process that you follow through with every candidate and reserve your judgement to the end of the interview. Not every candidate hits the ground running and it is in your best interests to give every candidate the opportunity to show you what they are capable of.

6. Interview on-the-fly!
If you are interviewing candidates without giving the actual interview so much as a second thought until the candidate walks through the door, then you are doing yourself, your business and more importantly, your candidates an enormous disservice. You should go in to the interview having thoroughly dissected the resume, looking for irregularities, inconsistencies (spelling mistakes!) and noted down areas that you need clarification on to better understand their suitability for the role.

7. Make them feel unimportant
Interviewing candidates in your office reception area, sitting behind a large messy desk, or taking phone calls during the interview is a great way of telling candidates you don’t really care about them and that the interviewing process is an interruption to your day. Candidates need to feel important and valued. Many will have taken time off from work, bought new clothes, fretted over the meeting and had a sleepless night the night before the interview. The interview process is harrowing enough without being treated as a distraction. Create an interview environment that is relaxed, quiet, and encourages the candidate to be open, honest and at ease. That is when you get the most, and the best, out of a candidate.

8. Give them a job after a 20 minute interview
How much time would you put into researching a $1000 computer for the office, or a new mobile phone? Days? Weeks? Certainly hours!Making a $40-$50k investment on the strength of a 20 minute interview just doesn’t make sense – yet many employees are hired in just this way. If you don’t spend at least 45-60 minutes with each candidate you can’t possibly get enough information out of them to make an informed decision. Probe, delve and dig to get into the candidates head and find out what makes them tick!

9. Hire without doing a reference check!
A reference check doesn’t mean merely reading written references provided by the candidates (in 15 years I have never read a bad written reference). It means asking the candidate who they reported to in all their previous work experiences and if it is ok for you to contact them for a reference ( and if “no” – why not???) Then DO the reference check. Even if the work was completely unrelated to the work you need them to do. It is their behaviour that you need to know about, timelines, attention to detail, attitude, team work, because if they behaved in a certain way in their old jobs, they may behaviour similarly in the position you’re offering.

10. Throw them in the deep end
Most candidates who leave a job prematurely cite a lack of induction and insufficient training in the first few weeks, leaving them feeling insecure and ill-equipped to do their job as the main reason for leaving. If you want it all to end in tears, DON’T provide up to date office procedure manuals, DON’t buddy them up with someone capable of teaching and training them, and DON’T have them professionally trained in the computer system that is critical to the business and let them just pick up the system on the job!

As you can see there are a number of simple things that can be done to dramatically improve your chances of sorting through candidates. When the success of your business sometimes hangs on the quality of the people who are dealing with your customers it is worth doing everything you can to increase your chances of getting the best people available.

Richard Kellaway
Richard is General Manager of Caretakers Australia and specialises in providing permanent and temporary managers for the Self Storage Industry. He can be contacted on 1300 654 068 or richardk@caretakersaustralia.com.au

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