How To Help Your Property Managers Make Sense Of The Numbers

by Kenny Pratt

Going over the NumbersI wish I had a property manager I felt was ready to become my new district manager.

But I don’t.

Comparing my property managers to candidates from the outside, I can see that I haven’t done a good job preparing my property managers to make the jump from single to multi-unit management.

The Missing Skill

One skill that I find consistently lacking in single-site managers that is absolutely necessary for a district manager is the ability to find meaning in data pulled from financial statements and other management reports. The business’s numbers tell a story, but most property managers are innumerate.

That’s not a slam or insult.  Most of the smart people I know wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what to make of financial statements or other data relevant to the operation of a self storage facility without some help or coaching.

An Example

When looking at revenue it is easy to see whether it is trending up or down; however, the trend alone is not much of an insight.

To get insight you have to ask deeper questions. If revenue is trending down, is it enough to be alarmed, or is it just seasonal? Why is it trending down (or up)? What is the appropriate response? Lower prices, raise prices, more advertising?

Did  a change in occupancy cause the change in revenue?  Perhaps she looks at delinquency to see if an increase in uncollected rent has lowered the month’s revenue.

Or maybe the amount of outstanding uncollected rent has remained consistent, but fewer people pre-paid this month causing a dip in the store’s pre-paid rent balance. In this case fewer prepaid rent dollars shows up as a decrease in the collected revenue for the month.

Reduced revenue for the month due to reduced occupancy requires a certain response.  Reduced revenue do to increasing delinquent accounts requires a completely different one. And finally, reduced revenue due to a reduction in pre-paid rent is probably nothing to worry about.

These are just a few of the conclusions I rely on my district managers to get right.

Can You Fill The Gap?

My property managers are, by and large, completely capable of doing the types of financial analysis I’m describing here. My problem is that I’ve never really given them the chance to try, to learn, or to practice.

Is there a way to help your property mangers practice?

I think so.

Here’s an outline of how it could work.

  • Start by providing them with more data and ask them to interpret, draw conclusions, and make recommendations based on the data.
  • Give them feedback and let them try again with the data from the next month or from another store.
  • List out the common analyses and explain how to do them and why they are done. (That could be another blog post itself.)

It would be interesting to see who would be the most adept at the analysis. The high potential property managers would self-select.

I’m convinced that even if I never have the opportunity to promote the property managers who become competent in this area it would still be a win. They would be more engaged. They would be better able to self-manage and self-correct. Hopefully when life pushes them out of my organization and into another job they are ready for more responsibility and higher pay. I would consider that a win too.

It looks like I have a little bit of work to do in 2012 in further developing my team.  How about you?

P.S.  If you are the district manager I’m looking for or know someone who is, feel free to email me.  My email address is on my about  page.

Photo credit: Herval

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