SBOA: The Magazine 2015 Edition - Page 11

Member Spotlight
Absolute Storage Management
Michael Haugh
Part 2

contiguous. We have a very tight geographic footprint. We are not spread too thin by trying to manage across the entire country, which I think is a very difficult model to execute effectively. That has been a big part of our program, keeping it close. I give a lot of credit to our peers who can manage effectively across a large geographic area.

What are some challenges you have faced, either in your daily operations or upon inception of Absolute Storage Management, Inc (ASM)?

I would say early on, the challenge is that you start with nothing so you have to find people who might want you to manage or sell their self storage facilities. In the beginning, our first account came from a referral and honestly, over the years, all but a few of our clients and investors have come from referrals. It’s unbelievable as a start up how hard it is to find owners who are willing to talk to you or even get to know what you are doing. I would say that the biggest challenge was finding clients that would engage us to manage their facilities.

At that time (12 years ago), there were very few third-party management companies. That model was somewhat new to the self storage space. There were several REITS, and guys who owned 20 or 30 facilities in a city or two, but not many folks actively third-party managing as a service. When you fast forward to today, it’s much more commonplace, and a much more competitive environment. The owners are still hard to find, but they have a lot more options.

What do you like best about the self storage industry?

To me, it is that the people are just great. The vast majority that work in the space either as owners, our team members, people like yourself, there are just really good people in the business. The industry is small enough that you can make an impact, even as a relatively small or medium-sized company. You can be competitive and be worthy and you don’t have to be the Walmart to succeed. It’s a space driven by entrepreneurs, and I don’t think that will change. Number one, it’s the people, and number two, the size of the space is manageable.

What is the #1 skill that your team looks for in hiring a new property manager?

The number one thing would be their personality, as that person can make or break the facility. It is important to have someone who is extroverted and very customer-service oriented. Basically, someone who loves to interface with people. You can teach someone the technical aspects and how to sell a unit. Fundamentally, in order to succeed, our team members have to be confident in what you are doing. I am proud of our folks and they are really the reason we have been successful.

What advice do you offer to those looking to grow their self storage business?

I think the best advice I can give is to surround yourself with high-quality team members like I have been able to do. I consider that most important. There are three things that have gotten our firm to where we are now. One being hard work, another is timing, and, as I mentioned before, the strength of my team. These factors are not really numbered that way, as they are all equally important. For anyone that is trying to grow any type of business, those are the things that are going to be most helpful to your success, in my opinion. I give my team a lot of credit for where we are now, but you still have to work hard and frankly, you have to have good timing. You cannot necessarily control that, you just have to be doing the right thing all the time, so that when opportunity arises, you are ready to take advantage of it.

Would you say that you have found strength in joining together with other operators to lower your operating expenses?

Yes. David Levenfeld (co-founder of the SBOA, President and CEO of Storage Pros Management LLC) is one of my mentors and asked me to join the SBOA, some years ago. After we vetted out what SBOA vendor-partner services worked best for us, we made sure that we were going to get savings in a few of the categories before joining, and it has been a great experience for us.

Lastly, what is your favorite dessert?

Ha, oh boy, I have a lot of them. Probably anything chocolate. Maybe a good single malt to wash it down!