Inside Self-Storage

FEB 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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Assembling Pieces of Profit Teri L. Lanza, Vice President I was in an Uber last week with a very chatty driver. I learned Eric spent 23 years working as a police officer, and when he retired, he launched a personal bodyguard outfit. It's fairly lucrative, he says; however, it never hurts to have additional profit streams— hence the driving. He also consults on home and office security and occasionally installs surveillance equipment. When I started working for Virgo Publishing—the company that launched this magazine—more than two decades ago, I was still waiting tables in the evenings and on weekends. I did that for years before hanging up my apron. I also did some freelance writing on the side and managed a local cover band. At one point, I operated an eBay store, selling girly bits and baubles. Like Eric, I've been grateful to have the steady income and relative safety of a day job, but it's always nice to pick up extra coin here and there. Diversification is the key to many a success story. It's why real estate investors often combine various property types in their portfolios, car washes sell strangely enticing add-ons including greeting cards and stuffed animals, and Jack in the Box cooks up everything from burgers to eggrolls. It's why an artist creating a decorative mosaic uses a wide assortment of colors, materials and configurations. Without variety, the outcome lacks luster. It'd be like staring at a locker-room shower stall. In the self-storage industry, our primary source of revenue will always be unit rentals; but each year more options emerge for viable, complementary income flow. Facility operators are only limited by their own resources and imagination. If you have the five essentials—space, time, startup capital, staff and market demand— there are dozens if not hundreds of auxiliary products and services that can work well in the context of a storage operation. In this issue, we examine several popular profit centers for this business, from extremely simple offerings such as retail moving and packing merchandise, to complex services like wine storage and a range of things in between. You'll read about boat/RV storage, propane sales, truck rentals, cell-tower leases and more. There are still many other options for you to consider, however, including records storage, boutique sales, mailbox rentals, pack and ship services, high-security art storage, coffee and snack sales, car washes, cloud storage, item-resale services, valet storage services … What else could you add to this list? Our authors address why to consider various add-ons, the pros and cons, what you need to get started, challenges to overcome, and other critical contemplations. They discuss space design, staffing, marketing, operation and other pieces of the medley. Most important, they offer guidance to help you determine if an option might be successful in your own circumstances. Regardless of your facility size, budget and location, you can nearly always offer some type of extras to your customers. Operators of all types have learned to work with what they've got and maximize the opportunities available. The only element that's non-negotiable is market demand. If consumers ain't pickin' up what yer puttin' down, you're stopped before you start. So, take a page out of the profit-centers playbook and do your research. Identify unmet needs in your area. It could be as easy as asking your tenants or neighbors! Or, forget for a moment that you're a business operator and look at things from through the eyes of a consumer. You are one! What products and services might entice you to make a stop or spend a bit more money at a business you already frequent? A mosaic is comprised of hundreds to thousands of pieces. Your self-storage profit mix needn't be so elaborate, but it should have multiple components. Use whatever analogy you like: eggs in one basket, fingers in many pies, mud at the fence … It all boils down to the same: Diversity in your product and service menu will attract more customers and generate significantly more revenue than any single offering. People love variety, but most of all, they adore convenience. Strive for the status of "one-stop shop," and you will have assembled a real masterpiece. All the best, THE INSIDE VIEW 4 ISS I February 2019

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