Developing a self-storage facility is a lot like putting a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle together. First there's the feasibility study, which determines if and where the project should be built. The steps involved in the feasibility alone are probably equivalent to dozens of jigsaw pieces. This is the time, too, when the unit-mix pieces should factor into the picture because, as many first-time developers find out too late, demographics play the biggest role in resolving the unit-mix dilemma. According to Dan Curtis, vice president of DBCI and author of this month's cover story ("Unit Mix for the Next Millennium,"), the population needs to be broken down into the numbers of single-family and multi-family homeowners, as well as dwellers of military bases, apartment complexes and college dorms. Each of these groups requires different storage needs, and unit sizes and occupancy patterns vary accordingly.
Another several dozen puzzle pieces should be devoted to an intensive marketing plan. It's not enough to open a facility and print an ad in the local Yellow Pages directory. Owners and managers need to work diligently to develop a multi-faceted marketing campaign, says Mini-Management's Pam Alton, who penned this month's feature, "Marketing--It's More Than Just Advertising."
Finally, pricing must claim a sizable chunk of the puzzle, too. Once again, demographics will play an important role in settling on the best prices for your units. But what kind of role should the competition play in determining your pricing strategies? With a fresh approach, Jim Killoran, author of Self-Storage Success, tackles this and numerous other pricing questions in "Pricing Strategies," an excerpt from his book.
In other areas this month, industry tax specialist Michael Donohue doles out words of wisdom on forecasting real-estate taxes; Scott Zucker sets the record straight on "The Legal Limits of Marketing Your Facility", and the honorable Joe Niemczyk and Mel Holsinger share their views on management, operations and the future of the industry.
Finally, we hope you and your family enjoy a happy, healthy, eventful (but safe) Fourth of July weekend.
Drew G. Whitney