Here at Lockaway Storage, we know our success is due to our wonderful team. The care they give our renters is unparalleled and we want to highlight their milestones along the way. Below is an interview with San Antonio, TX team member Austin Sanchez, who is celebrating his 2-year anniversary with Lockaway Storage.
You can meet Austin at Lockaway Storage on 200 Roy Richards Road in San Antonio.
Peter: Last year we talked and it was your first anniversary. How’s it going with year number two?
Austin: It’s definitely been more interesting than the first year. The first year I was really learning the ropes,. For one, I’ve never been in a management position. And two, I’d never worked in self storage before.
When I first started was when we first opened the doors. Learning the ins and outs of the previous company then converting a store from one company to ours. The time it took and all of the blood, sweat, and sometimes tears.
Learning the ropes was the first year and the second year was setting a goal for myself as far as what I wanted to do in the company. I knew I wanted to stay with the company, and I had no other plans of going anywhere else. I know at my other jobs, I was always looking, like, ‘I can’t wait til I leave.’
At this job, I don’t know where I’d go if I left. I wanted to figure out something that I wanted to do. Another personal goal of mine was that I wanted to become a store manager for my second year anniversary. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was toward the end of the year that I was promoted. Really it was just going towards the goal, learning how to be a better manager, learning how to train. All the necessary things to do to become a great store manager.
Peter: So what do you feel like you did to improve to eventually get promoted to manager? What were some steps you actively took?
Austin: The main step was mainly taking initiative. Especially Henry was a big help. With him being so busy, he needed help as far as facility manager duties. So obviously I willingly volunteered, like, “Hey, just show me how to do it real quick! And I’ll catch on.”
It was really just taking matters into my own hands. Trying to figure out how to do certain things. How to do a lot of the facility manager stuff. Even though technically I wasn’t getting paid for it, I was only assistant facility manager. The biggest thing really was taking initiative and really just learning it myself. Then, when the time did come, I wasn’t playing a game of catch-up learning how to do everything.
The secondary thing was really our store and how great we do with our numbers. Back then, I had learned how to hit the budgets or get close to them. There are certain factors that are important. But the primary thing was doing facility manager work and learning how to do it beforehand.
“Austin is a super, super self storage manager. His heart is in the right place and he wants the company to do well. He’s a good guy. He has become very, very informed when it comes to sales and customer service techniques. He’s really learned a lot about leadership, how not to get the most out of himself, but the most out of his teammates.”
Marc Gaudet, UNITS San Antonio Team Lead
Peter: Yeah, that is so important, and it sounds like you’re developing some really great business skills as well.
Austin: Oh yeah, definitely because before I really didn’t know how to run my own business and running your own store is like running your own business. Which actually goes great into the whole new scheme that Travis is wanting us to do, which is “run it like you own it”.
Of course I want to be able to provide great customer service and all that. The biggest things that I do believe in, which not necessarily everybody does, because everyone has their own perspective on it, I still believe that I can provide great customer service at the best price. When I say the best price, I obviously mean at the highest price I can without being too ridiculous. But having a fair, but firm, price.
That’s really the main thing i’ve learned over the last two years. I’ve learned how to provide great customer service while still getting the rates that we need to hit the numbers.
Peter: For sure. Yeah, I mean it’s such a fine line between maximizing things for the business and also looking out for the renter and making sure that all their needs are taken care of. It’s a fine balancing act for sure.
Austin: Of course. Yeah, the one thing I have learned is that you probably have 90-95% of the customers, a lot of them they are great people, a lot of interesting stories out there, a lot of different backgrounds. It’s just those less than five percenters; those are the ones you have to watch out for. It’s still good to provide great customer service.
Peter: Over the last year, have you met anyone new, whether that be a renter or someone on the team, who is unique or would have good stories?
Austin: The thing is is that, at the store that I work in, we have over a thousand units and over 900 customer who make payments. It’s hard to remember one who really tops it off.
Peter: You’ve been in the industry now for two years, you’re getting pretty seasoned, do you have any advice for anyone who’s beginning their career in self storage property management?
Austin: At one point, I thought a big step for me was even getting a store manager position. Because of my age, I thought that would be a problem for me and thought that I wasn’t able to move up until I got a little bit older and everything and I was able to prove that wrong.
As far as advice for them, the main thing is be loyal. Go a little bit further than the average person will. Me and Henry call them HLO’s, high-level operators. Going 110% or 120%, I think if you can do that, stay loyal with the company, and show initiative and love for the company, you’re definitely going to go a long way.
You gotta be patient about it and eventually it will work out.
“I’ve known Austin since before he was 10 years old. I grew up with his father, we’re talking about since elementary school, so about 30 years. I’ve watched Austin grow and I’ve known that there’s something special about him. You could tell he was different from everybody else. I lost contact with him for maybe two years and I ended up coming back to San Antonio and ran into him. He was training MMA and thinking about that as a career. I didn’t want to discourage him, but I wanted him to have more of a plan, so I told him about Lockaway Storage. To be honest, there were some challenges Austin had in the beginning. The big thing he did have is that he is tenacious. He doesn’t mind putting himself out there, even if he was going to embarrass himself, because he wants to learn. One thing I love about Austin is that he is loyal. He is all about the company. He sees himself here for the next ten years moving up in the company. I am very proud of him. Watching him grow from a little kid and what he’s gone through is just unbelievable. He had it rough and to see him mature into the man he is today with his new family, I’m pretty proud of him.”
Henry Medrano, Lockaway Storage District Manager
Peter: Great answer. So, you’ve lived in the San Antonio area for a good bit now. Lots of people are moving there.
Austin: I’ve lived inside of 1604 on the north east side since I’ve gotten the job here. I can’t even think about having to leave! It’s such a great area over here. It’s really booming, so you’re getting a lot of traffic. The people here are really nice and there are a lot of restaurants coming up.
There’s only one negative thing I have to say and that is sometimes the drivers can be a little bit crazy. Other than that, it’s a really great place. The houses, the pools are really nice and it’s just a really great area. Everyone is wanting to move north because it is nicer. I think that’s the reason why it’s booming over here.
Peter: I didn’t realize how San Antonio was spreading out.
Austin: I think that helps with storage. I know parking is going crazy right now. We have 400 parking spaces and we’re down to like 12 or 15 vacancies. They don’t let you just park a trailer in your yard, so that’s why they need us for that storage space.
Peter: I don’t want to just talk about storage, because you’re not always at work. What hobbies do you have? Are you still doing MMA?
Austin: Last year I wanted to. I’ll still probably train a little, but I’ll be honest, I was younger then. I wasn’t quite as stable last year. I was just figuring out how to have a good job and I thought fighting might be what I’d do. But now that I’ve been here at Lockaway Storage and where I know I can go in the future here, I just don’t want to fight anymore.
I did a lot fighting growing up on the south side of town. You just had to fight to survive. But now that I’m living a life, I don’t have to fight anymore. Life is good. I have friends that enjoy it like Henry and Marc Gaudet. We get the fights on pay-per-view. We talk about and enjoy watching the fights together.
Now with my second child being born, I won’t have time to train every day. I may still pursue it, but I found a job where I don’t have to do that.
Peter: Tell me about the recent happenings with your family?
Austin: I have my beautiful daughter Avyona who is 15 months. It’s going by so fast! People told me it would, but it’s going really fast. I’m helping my mom buy her first house, which is great because of all the things she’s done for me since I was born. She’d always help me. Even if she needed to loan me her last $200, she’d do it without question.
I helped her get her first car and now her first house. My fiance’s family is big and her brothers and sisters seem like they’re all having babies now. We may have started a baby train!
Peter: Congrats on all that! Having the second child, helping your mom. Respect to you for that!
Austin: I’m a family man. I love to take care of my family. I don’t like to have fun by myself, so if I can have fun and make people happy while I’m at it, that’s just the kind of guy I am. I’m taking the whole family out to the lake with my boat. I’m hoping to buy a second boat at some point. A pontoon boat.
Peter: What lake do you like to go to?
Austin: I go to Canyon Lake. I just go there for fun. If I was fishing, I’d go to Calaveares. We took the boat out the other weekend and it was really windy and the waves were really big. Got water inside the boat. It got my wife all wet. When it starts getting warmer I’m taking friends and family out there more.
Peter: Sounds like life is good!
Austin: Yeah I can’t ask for anything else right now. Well… I could ask for another truck, but I’ll get that eventually!
Peter: Is there anybody you’d like to give a shout out to on the Lockaway Storage team?
Austin: Yeah, to be honest, Henry. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have met Don. He’s been the backbone to the success I’ve had. He’s the biggest one. But I’d like to thank Don and Travis too for believing in me, even though I’m so young. It shows that they care and they trust in my abilities and what I’ve learned.