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Community Involvement is the Key

Feb 09, 2015

Managers Corner
Featuring Blanca Borja-Aguilar
National Self Storage – Horizon City, TX

Blanca Borja-AguilarI have been with National Self Stor­age for 10 years. Before starting to work in the self-storage industry, I was an apartment manager in San Diego as well as in El Paso.

I first learned about self storage as a tenant at one of National Self Storage facilities in El Paso. I helped the man­ager translate the contract to Spanish for a new tenant and she offered me a position on the spot! Two weeks later I was making collection calls and renting units. I was even awarded a bonus that quarter!

I first started marketing the facility at the park by giving away hot dogs and flyers, participating in a kid’s fair, and other local community projects. That’s how we got involved in the uniform swap program. It all began in 2008 when three moms from Horizon City asked me to help them collect used, but serviceable school uniforms to ben­efit school children who could other­wise not afford to buy new uniforms. At that time, I was involved with the East Lake Lions Club and I recruited volun­teers from the community to wash and sort the uniforms. The Lions Club used the National Self Storage facility’s photo on the website created for the program. Not only did it result in new customers for us, but the kids got free eye exams, free haircuts, and new backpacks. We also provided pony rides and face painting to make it a fun event. It was so rewarding just to see the kids’ smil­ing faces and their grateful parents.

The uniform swap program defi­nitely increased community awareness for National Self Storage. Customers would see the uniform collection boxes and asked how they could get involved. Although I turned the program over to other managers while I was working out of state, I plan to be back in full-swing by this summer. The 2014 uniform swap program benefited about 900 families.

I faced my biggest marketing chal­lenge when I transferred to a new store in another state. I had to get used to a new city, new employees, and a very challenging climate. But my skills, and experience as a manager, all helped me to overcome the challenge. I just went out and started marketing in the new community, made contacts, joined several organizations, and met the challenge head on.

My advice for other managers is to know your competition, get involved in the community, visit with your neigh­bors and stay in contact with previ­ous tenants. Being involved with the community is the key to our business. Personally, I like having people come in and call me by my first name.

Being able to work with all types of people and having patience, organiza­tion, planning, and professionalism – but also friendly customer service, in my opinion, are traits that a self-storage manager needs in order to be success­ful. Be kind, have a positive attitude, take pride in your job, and show it! Everyone working in that office must have the same goals and objectives to provide a true, friendly and professional environment for your customers.

I maintain my managerial skills by constantly striving to improve and find­ing ways of doing things better. Every day is a new challenge and you have to be mentally prepared. There’s a lot of good information on-line, webinars, magazines like TSSA’s and talking to other mangers in your area to keep your skills sharp. I believe in volun­teering and getting involved with the community in order to keep an open relationship with potential customers. As Og Mandino said, “Give yourself all the probabilities and all the possibilities for success.”