No matter where Nikki Criddle is, whether it’s a coffee shop, McDonald’s or on-site at work, she makes a point to network. It’s key to success for this Property Manager of Marquis Ranch Self Storage in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Her networking skills are how she got noticed by Christy Parker, Director of Technology at Marquis Ranch parent company Tellus Self-Storage, who nominated her for SpareFoot’s August Manager of the Month.
Nikki’s foray into self-storage began in 2009, when she joined the Tellus team after graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in public relations. In college, she interned at a student-run independent record label. It was there Nikki picked up the unique clientele base she would bring with her to the storage world. Renting out units to local bands increased occupancy rates and gave Tellus unexpected visibility.
“The bands would get these big 10×20 climate-controlled units and set up in there. They would practice and have recording sessions, and the instruments never really left unless they had a gig somewhere,” explained Nikki.
Through promoting concerts online, she learned the basics of LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace. And according to Christy, that’s a skill that distinguishes Nikki from other managers. Tellus was initially nervous about creating an business page on Facebook, but Nikki started interacting with her customers and other industry professionals through her personal profile.
“I use my Facebook to bring awareness to the self-storage world and a sense of community to my property. People always ask me, ‘What’s it like to be a property manager?’ So I open up about my life, use Facebook to tell my story. I post pictures of my daughter, my dogs and my facility. I share the music I like. I post entertaining statuses. I advertise promotions. I reach out to customers, let them know I’m here for them,” she said.
Nikki knew her growing online network would reciprocate her kindness someday. Sure enough, the effort paid off in 2010 when she organized a benefit concert for the Southern Miss Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. With many friends and family members in the Armed Forces, Nikki jumped at the philanthropic opportunity. For Operation Guardian Angel, Nikki chose a lineup featuring bands with at least one soldier or veteran member. She sold t-shirts and heavily promoted the concert, both on and offline. The end result? A whopping $3,000 for the Southern Miss ROTC and brand name recognition for Tellus Development.
Networking helps Nikki keep occupancy rates high and delinquencies down at her facility, making her one of Tellus’ consistently top-ranked managers.
“Be explicit with your customers. Let them know what you expect— make sure they’re clear on their rent rate and bill due date,” advised Nikki. “Let them know what they can expect from you, that you’re there to take care of them 100%. That way, they’ll be there 100% when you need them too.”
Nikki makes good on her promises to customers, but she also does her best help coworkers. In addition to her regular responsibilities, Nikki coordinates truck rentals between properties in the area, and cross-refers tenants who might be a better match for different facilities. Between all of these duties, Nikki finds her biggest challenge is time management. Though she’s still working on it, she offered some advice on getting things done:
“Don’t get bogged down thinking about everything you have to do. Just start each morning and keep moving forward. Every day is so unpredictable, so just be flexible,” she said.
If you want to motivate or reward someone on your team, submit nominations for the next Manager of the Month to firstname.lastname@example.org.