Monica Howard Races Ahead with U-Haul Self-Storage in Yakima

Jun 30, 2017

Stand in one spot at U-Haul Moving and Storage of Yakima and you’ll see general manager Monica Howard speeding from one task to the next. While she’s walking her site, she’s directing her capable and equally efficient team. Howard moves fast when she’s on and off the clock. Outside of her U-Haul duties, she’s a dirt-track race car driver, a hobby that feeds her need to live life to the fullest.

Howard brings that same driven attitude to work.

“I fight hard to meet the ever-changing expectations I have of myself,” Howard declared. “On the track, with every driver and every turn, there is something different needed from me to pass someone or to maintain my lead. At work, it’s the same thing. Every customer, every move and every Team Member needs something different from me to accomplish the goal.”

Racing forward

Howard’s introduction to U-Haul came when she was working at a former U-Haul dealership in Yakima. In May 2012, she began moonlighting as a customer service representative at the Yakima store. Her goal was to eventually transition from working four jobs to one. At the time, Howard was a single mother of two young children, and joked that she “slept on the weekend.”

Monica Howard helping customers

U-Haul GM Monica Howard assists customers

Though Howard didn’t foresee her job at U-Haul turning into a career when she started as a CSR, she changed course once she saw the growth opportunities available.

“When I began to consider the real career potential,” Howard said, “I spoke with my GM and I also called and spoke with an area field manager about what my U-Haul possibilities could truly be. I then chose to drive hard to move up within the Company.”

With that in mind, Howard made sure she had the fuel she needed to race toward the checkered flag. She said as much to Manny Mendez, U-Haul Company of Inland Northwest president, when the GM position at Yakima became available in January 2014.

“When I advertised the opening,” Mendez recalled, “Monica came up to me and said, ‘Manny, I think I’m your GM here.’” Mendez liked Howard’s confidence, but asked her what else she brought to the table. “Knowledge,” she replied. And with that, Mendez gave her a shot.

After shifting into the role of GM, Howard set her sights on a new checkered flag: self-storage.

Monica Howard U-Haul self-storage

U-Haul GM Monica Howard

Fill ‘er up

When Howard stepped into the driver’s seat at her location, self-storage occupancy was at 75 percent. This was unacceptable for Howard, who wanted to fill up every room at her store. Her first hurdle: making local customers aware of U-Haul self-storage.

Monica Howard self-storage service

U-Haul GM Monica Howard assists a customer

“People here were like, ‘You have self-storage?’” Howard remembered. “We have 500 rooms. I couldn’t believe it.”

A big part of that disbelief stemmed from Howard knowing the year-round benefits of self-storage in Washington and other parts of the Northwest U.S., where freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall are par for the course during winter months. First, Howard made sure her team knew the benefits of self-storage. Then she made sure everyone advocated self-storage at every opportunity.

“We make sure to insert self-storage in the conversation somewhere with every customer,” Howard said. “I had a customer who was running five nights a week as a courier service. He said he didn’t need self-storage. I said, ‘But your friends might!’”

Self-storage expertise

Monica Howard and self-storage team

U-Haul GM Monica Howard and her Yakima team

In addition to talking up self-storage at every opportunity, Howard worked with her team to size up other facilities in the area. Like evaluating the other cars and drivers on the track, Howard knows the key to winning the race is knowing your competition.

“You have to know that we have the best facility, the best customer service, and that we are where our customers should be,” Howard said. “Get your crew excited. Do they know we are the best? Have they seen what else there is to offer as far as self-storage in your area?”

Howard rented a room at another location to show her team what other self-storage locations look like.

“They were amazed,” Howard noted. “What they saw was not at all what they had come to see as a minimum standard for self-storage. All they knew was the U-Haul way.”

Crossing the finish line

Monica Howard self-storage door

U-Haul GM Monica Howard oversees self-storage in Yakima

That proactive approach stirred all the momentum necessary for a quick turnaround. Just a year and a half after Howard took over as GM, the store’s self-storage rooms were 100 percent occupied for the first time in its history. What thrilled Howard just as much as was her Team Members’ reaction to the achievement.

“Our group text message thread was going crazy,” Howard said laughingly. “They were just as excited as I was.”

“Monica is a go-getter,” Mendez said proudly. “She’s proven herself as a GM by leading her team and turning around self-storage at her location. She’s on top of it, and she’s honest.”

Let Monica know that you love her drive in the comments below!

More articles like this one…

What’s New

Texas Panhandle Wildfires: U-Haul Offering 30 Days Free Storage

Texas Panhandle Wildfires: U-Haul Offering 30 Days Free Storage

U-Haul® is offering 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box® container usage to residents impacted by the wildfires across the Texas panhandle. The Smokehouse Creek Fire started on Monday and has burned more than 1 million acres. It’s the largest in the state’s...

U-Haul and ACS Join Forces in Climb to Conquer Cancer

U-Haul and ACS Join Forces in Climb to Conquer Cancer

The Climb to Conquer Cancer of Phoenix is the American Cancer Society’s largest single-day climb event in the world. Every February in Arizona, thousands of cancer survivors, family members, caregivers and supporters participate in the Climb to Conquer Cancer. U-Haul...

U-Haul, Tribute Journey Spread Valentine’s Day Love to Veterans

U-Haul, Tribute Journey Spread Valentine’s Day Love to Veterans

February 14 is not just Valentine's Day. It is recognized as a National Salute to Veteran Patients day. During Valentine's Day week each year, U-Haul and the Tribute Journey say “thank you” to veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who are cared for in Department of...

U-Haul International Moves with U-Box Makes Moving Abroad Easy

U-Haul International Moves with U-Box Makes Moving Abroad Easy

Every new year invites new adventures. If your 2024 adventures include moving abroad, U-Haul International Moves® is equipped and licensed to support your exciting transition each step of the way. The U-Haul® brand is known globally for empowering do-it-yourself...

U-Haul Helps Kurt Warner Charity Change Lives of Arizona Family

U-Haul Helps Kurt Warner Charity Change Lives of Arizona Family

When Luz decided to apply for Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona’s Homeownership Program, she had no idea just how much of an impact it would have on her son, Jason. The family met Habitat’s criteria and completed more than 400 hours of “sweat equity” by working...

U-Haul Recognizes Its 2023 Volunteers of the Year

U-Haul Recognizes Its 2023 Volunteers of the Year

TEMPE, Ariz. — Michelle Vukov-Mikel and Michele Ramirez have been honored as the U-Haul® Volunteers of the Year for 2023. At the end of each year, U-Haul recognizes the Team Member(s) who has volunteered the most hours, supported the greatest number of U-Haul charity...

2023 U-Haul Canadian Growth Cities: Alberta Markets Top List

2023 U-Haul Canadian Growth Cities: Alberta Markets Top List

Alberta is the leading growth province for 2023 while its largest market, Calgary, is Canada’s top growth city based on the one-way U-Haul transactions of do-it-yourself movers. The U-Haul Growth Index found that Calgary, Edmonton and Camrose were all among Canada’s...