What is a self storage audit?
What is a self storage audit and do you need one?
I hear this question often. Let's talk about what a self storage audit is NOT.
It's not a scary "audit" where I come in and tell you all your mistakes.
It's not something you only do when you suspect theft.
It's not a walkthrough of your units.
A good thorough self storage audit is much more. When I perform a self storage audit, I start at the process level. What do you expect to happen? What is your policy for each section of your business? If you don't have a policy, that's ok. I help you define and create one, getting buy in from your staff in the process.
Once we define all the policies, I test that they are followed. Here is how it works in real life:
If your overlock policy is all units are overlocked on the 6th of the month, we walk the facility and check that all units are actually overlocked.
If your past due policy is tenants are texted on the 5th, emailed on the 8th and called on the 10th, I check reports and notes and see if that process is followed.
If your bank deposit process is the program is closed every day and cash and checks are deposited twice a week, I trace the money and confirm that all your cash was deposited into the bank.
A good self storage audit reviews the operational expectations of the owner and checks that the staff is following the procedures. I also bring best practices and new ideas into the company that I've seen other storage owners use with success.
There is a massive benefit to having a fresh set of eyes as I walk through your self storage business. I can spot things you can't, since I haven't been looking at them for years.
A self storage audit is not meant to bash your manager over the heads or be a scary situation. My goal is to cover the expectations and get everyone on the same page so there is less friction at the property.
What does this look like in real life?
I start every audit by talking to the owner and manager. We discuss the expectations of the company by process, move in, past due, rental, auction, maintenance, and more. As we go through the expectations, I take notes and listen for gaps in the process where someone could steal or drop the ball. It's not all about theft but I do listen for areas where internal controls are lacking and we can change the process to improve the system. Once I understand how a process should be followed, I begin testing to see if it is followed. I'll pull files, paperwork and reports to gather data on what the staff is actually doing every day. Once we understand what actually is happening in reality, we discuss openly how significant the gap is. Some self owners are tolerant of gaps in the process if they are insignificant. Others want the system followed to the letter. It is up to the owner to decide how much of the gap to tolerate.
If we do not have a process, we design one.
During the audit, I take constant notes and provide a detailed report of findings, significant, and recommendations on how to move forward.
When I audit, it not only cover operations processes, but also marketing, financials, expenses and more.