Knowing When to Rebrand Your Self-Storage Business and Tips for How to Do It
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 04/14/2013



 

By Mark Beck

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to make a change to your self-storage brand because a brand takes time to develop. When results slowly decline, it can be agonizing to make a clean break from something you’ve spent years building, even when you know that something new is needed. That was the conclusion Scott McLain and the team at the Amoroso Cos. came to when they realized their six stores, all flying a different brand flag, needed a new direction.

McLain began his career in the self-storage industry more than eight years ago, working in the development and construction department of the William Warren Group and StorQuest Self-Storage. He then went on to work with the Amoroso Cos. as vice president of operations in January 2012.

In the first few months of his new position, McLain realized a change was necessary. The company began the process of rebranding its entire portfolio and building a new website for its stores. Over the course of two months, McLain and I talked about the steps and thought process his company took to rebuild its business through rebranding.

Why rebrand all your stores?

With six individually branded self-storage facilities in the San Fernando Valley, we felt it was important to bring our business under one name and create a new, consistent brand identity. Through the process of rebranding, we also realized it was an opportunity to drive net operating income and improve all store performance.

Under our new StorCal Self-Storage brand, we’re now able to cast a larger net to attract geographically specific customers online through our centralized website. Also, branding under the StorCal flag is vital to our portfolio expansion plans. When taking on stores through acquisitions and third-party management agreements, these new stores will receive the benefit of a larger company and its combined marketing efforts. Essentially, the rebranding effort helps throw all new properties into an established marketing campaign from day one.

Our stores also benefit from an operating cost standpoint. Management of staff, advertising, vendor discounts and more can now be spread throughout our portfolio. In the end, branding to StorCal Self-Storage was absolutely necessary to compete with national and regional operators in today’s storage markets. Our goal is to leverage a new, strong brand identity and boost occupancy levels portfolio wide as a result.

What was the process to implement a new brand name, website and signage?

From day one, we knew we were going to focus our expansion plans to California, so we wanted to come up with a new name that was clever and catchy. The most difficult part was finding a name that didn’t already exist. Through trial and error and research we came up with StorCal Self-Storage, focusing on California self-storage properties.

At that point we had to go through the normal steps involved: logo design, trademark submission and rights to the name, a new signage campaign, etc. The final piece was delivering a simple Web domain, www.storcal.com.

Can you break down the steps to rebrand your stores and build a new website?

  • We did name research through the U.S. Patent & Trademark website. Once the name search was complete, we agreed on StorCal Self-Storage.
  • Working with our signage company, we identified the color scheme we wanted to use as well as the logo design.
  • We then submitted the new company trademark name.
  • The team developed a new signage layout and set a budget to maximize our spend.
  • We hired a Web-development and branding firm to build the StorCal.com website.
  • We spent countless hours of tweaking, refining and improving the final website design and layout.
  • The company went live with StorCal.com as the new store signage was being installed.
  • The StorCal signage and website were completed.

From start to finish, the entire rebranding process and website build-out took approximately nine months. Today, we still find ourselves constantly fine tuning our search engine optimization initiatives.

What would you do differently if you had to do it again?

We’d probably involve our operating-software company more during the website build-out and identify early on any possible functionality issues.

Since implementing the new branding, how has it impacted your business?

In the last two months of 2012 and now into 2013, we’ve seen massive growth in online reservation move-ins and boosts in occupancy levels. We feel this is due to the new StorCal.com reservation website and getting on board with some of the self-storage search aggregators in which we’re now aligned. Right now, our online website presence helps us average 30 move-ins per month over our portfolio, and it continues to gain momentum.

We’ve received great customer feedback about our new online-reservation process and the ease of use StorCal.com provides. We’ve also received great responses from existing customers who’ve created online accounts and can now make online monthly payments. We use our customer feedback to continuously improve our website platform and provide a simple, user-friendly reservation process.

Mark Beck is the owner of StorageAlly , which provides training and support to self-storage owners, managers and investors. He’s been a self-storage operator since 1995, is an ambassador for the California Self-Storage Association, and has supported more than 200 store teams in the United States and Europe. For more information, call 818.527.4977; visit www.storageally.com. Follow him on Twitter @markbeck .