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 Know Your Competitors, Know Your Community 

There was once a famous comic strip called “Pogo” and in one of the strips Pogo uttered the now famous phrase, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” While few people in self storage actually think of competitors as enemies, it can truly be said that knowing and understanding your competition can help you grow your own company. To extend that notion, knowing your community also helps any self storage owner/operator and manager’s cause.

Lecia Hernandez, the manager of Dollar Self Storage in Santa Fe Springs is a believer in sizing up the competition and doing the things necessary to be as good or better than the facility down the road. She also prefers to be very active in her local community. Those are two of the reasons why she is the California Self Storage Association’s (CSSA) Manager of the Month for August 2015. When she was hired as manager at Dollar Self Storage, one of the first things she did was size up the competition.

“When I came on board and joined Dollar Self Storage, first and for most I began by evaluating my competitors around my facility to enhance the benefits of my property,” Hernandez says. “My next priorities were to reduce delinquency, minimize discounts, market my facility, and get involved with my local Chamber of Commerce. I joined forces with one of the directors of the Chamber to get our name out there, get involved with the business expos and generally do as much as I could to get our name recognized and involved with our community.”

Along those lines, Hernandez and Dollar Self Storage participate with the local Chambers of Commerce in the cities of Santa Fe Springs and Pico Rivera.

“We support other new business joining the Chamber and we get involved with yearly events.” Hernandez adds.

Lecia Hernandez, as with so many other managers in self storage, arrived in the business as an outsider, having worked as a supervisor for a janitorial company. She was herself a tenant at a self storage facility at the time and after a number of conversations with the property manager, was asked if she would like to make the move to self storage as a manager.

“The property manager came to me then and said they were looking for someone with my  skills, someone who was responsible and reliable, and she wanted me to apply,” says Hernandez. “After thinking over the pros and cons I went ahead took a chance, especially  after hearing how much she enjoyed and loved what she did.”

That evolved into working at Dollar Self Storage when Hernandez decided to find a self storage company in a region she preferred to live. Dollar was looking motivated managers for one of their largest facilities in California and when Lecia submitted her resume, she soon thereafter received a call from the company.

Hernandez has formulated some theories to running a successful self storage facility. They include:

(1) Business should be administered with a sense of competitive urgency.

(2) Maintaining high ethical standards in external and internal relationships is essential to maximum success.

(3) The business should be kept in adjustment with the forces at work in its environment.

(4) Take pride and ownership of the work you do

When she is not staying busy with her managerial work at Dollar Self Storage, Hernandez loves all things outdoors -- camping, off-roading, swimming and traveling. She also enjoys being a member of the CSSA and appreciates all the learning opportunities provided by the CSSA.

“The CSSA is valuable to me because they work to educate all managers through monthly training seminars and information regarding changes in self storage lien laws via their website,” concludes Hernandez.

Obviously Lecia Hernandez and Pogo are on the same page when it comes to understanding the world around you and trying to make it a better place. And it doesn’t hurt to know the competition, either.

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