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Storage A to Z

STORAGE A TO Z

AT THE BEGINNING

Self-storage wasn’t the original plan. Developer Chris Zupsic acquired the site in 2006 for its residential potential. Situated in the center of San Francisco’s Rincon Hill neighborhood, surrounded by high-rise luxury condominiums, the existing 35,000 square foot building was to be razed to make way for an eight-story, 113-unit apartment complex. If you would like to learn more about the process of how the first storage facility came to fruition, click here to download the pdf.

MAKING THE SELF-STORAGE BUSINESS WORK FOR YOU

A leader in third-party self-storage property management and asset consulting, StoragePRO and its subsidiary, Mirabito, Mooney & Associates, provides self-storage third-party management, consulting and brokerage services for owners, developers, investors, and financial service firms. If you would like to learn more, click here to download the full pdf.

CRITERIA FOR SELF-SERVICE STORAGE SITE SELECTION

A proposed site for a self-service storage facility should encompass as many of the following ideal characteristics as possible:  1) The location should be highly visible to heavily trafficked areas, preferably with frontage on either a freeway, frontage road, or main intersecting streets.  2) Accessibility to the site should be simple, obvious, and easily approachable from multiple directions.  3) The site should be centered as close as possible to a mix of high density residential, commercial, and light industrial land uses, and within the proximity of the directional growth pattern of the city. Self-Storage Site Selection Criteria 

MANAGING DELINQUENCIES AND COLLECTIONS

Self-storage is a retail business, and “retail is detail.” Done correctly, managing delinquencies and collections is probably the most important and detail-oriented aspect of operating a self-storage business. The delinquency process is a reflection of your store’s health and your staff’s ability to execute the collection management processes. Therefore, managing the collections process is the responsibility of every employee and supervisor or owner. Managing Delinquencies & Collections.pdf

PROPERTY VALUE INCREASE

Self-storage professionals are far from strangers to the negative stereotypes that their industry has garnered over the past decades. In fact, nearly everyone involved in the business of mini-storage has either heard stories about, or has personally dealt with, angry residents attempting to block the development of a storage property or a neighboring business worried about increases in crime and traffic as a result of a new facility. How Self-Storage Affects Property Values.pdf 

WHEN IN THE FACE OF CHANGE

In today’s market, self-storage businesses face strategies and management processes that are 100 percent more complex than those of just five years ago. In order to remain competitive, self-storage operations require more relevant information which reflects this paradigm shift. Unfortunately, technology has not kept pace with the marketing innovations and management system changes that have swept the industry. When in the Face of Change Download

CASE STUDY: IT'S THE SYSTEMS, BOB!

This past summer, StoragePRO Management Company took over the third-party management of a self-storage property. Bob, the owner of the property, had supervised the management of his business since purchasing the property. Although Bob was a typical self-storage entrepreneur – hands-on, opinionated and direct – over time he concluded that the competitive and regulatory climate (California is tough) had negatively impacted his store’s performance. Therefore, it was time to sell the business or delegate management to a property management firm. Fortunately (from our point of view), he chose to have his property managed.

Bob has a heart and asked that his employee, Mary, be given the opportunity to remain as the on-site manager. It was our assessment that Mary was qualified to remain manager, assuming she passed the security background check. However, I warned Bob that the odds were not in Mary’s favor to stay as all too often the current manager, either out of fear or unwillingness to change, will ultimately resign from their position. Bob understood the dilemma, and after several months of discussion he was ready to delegate the operations to StoragePRO Management.

For most owners, losing day-to-day control of their property is similar to losing one’s driver’s license; they are itching to get back into the driver’s seat and take their baby for a spin around the block once again. After only four months of management, I was not surprised to receive a phone call from Bob asking that I meet with him at my earliest possible convenience. Despite regular and open communications, the urgency of his request left me puzzled as to the purpose of the meeting, and I mentally prepared myself that he may want his driver’s license back.

Bob walked in and sat down. After a few minutes of niceties we got down to business. Looking me in the eye he asked, “What happened to my business?” I was speechless trying to understand the context of Bob’s question because things were going smoothly. I asked him to explain the issue. Bob wanted to know what StoragePRO had done as “Mary loves her job, our income is up over 16%, and our expenses have declined.” My armpit and hand perspiration halted quickly as the color returned to my pale facial cheeks. “It’s the systems, Bob! It’s the systems!” I explained, putting his driver’s license back in his file.

We had spent the first few months implementing our management and marketing systems, but had yet to address the bigger changes Bob and I had previously discussed and had not yet implemented, such as deferred maintenance, appearance, and improved signage for greater visibility. Furthermore, customers had not noticed any significant changes in personnel, management or the physical property, so it wasn’t the physical plant that had made any impact. What had changed were the formalized management and marketing systems. It was definitely the systems!

Bob was extremely pleased with our performance, especially with the subtle, behind-the-scenes changes that were making him more money. Bob’s positive experience is an example of why successful self-storage property management firms are actually managers of information who happen to also manage real estate. The subtle changes to the way information is processed and/or disseminated can make a big difference, as Bob has learned to his delight.

Information management is the quiet but radical and disruptive business innovation facing every self-storage owner in today’s competitive marketplace. These disruptive changes include personnel, management, marketing, and information systems and business practices. Mature companies understand that to compete today, they need to become innovative while still paying attention to their current business.

For example, Eastman Kodak, after inventing the digital camera, missed the transformation from film to digital photography. Kodak, like many other large companies, neglected the disruptive innovations that opened new business and marketing opportunities for companies such as Hewitt-Packard and Apple.

To remain competitive, existing self-storage owners and operators need access to more innovative management and marketing systems along with technology. The management software that operates your facility is the doorway to access this information, and understanding the need for these tools is the single most important realization an operator can embrace. Our industry has evolved from the “mini-warehouse” era where fulfillment of customer demand was based upon an owner’s vision of what was “good” for the customer.

Listening to customer wishes over the past 20 years, developers of second and third-generation storage facilities heralded in more convenient and secure self-storage amenities such as individual door alarms or roll-up doors in smaller-sized storage spaces. They have also implemented a wide array of management practices based on the data from their stores and are using it to their advantage to take market share from sites that are less sophisticated. At the same time, the supply of competitive choices available to the customer has exploded. Since the beginning of the millennium, the self-storage industry has experienced an explosive 50% growth in industry capacity. Meanwhile, demand in many markets has not risen to the level of supply, resulting in fierce competition for a finite number of potential consumers at the same time that the information analytics is causing disruptive changes in self-storage property management and marketing.