Kraft used to have an ad campaign for Stove Top stuffing that depicted family members sitting down to dinner. Chicken. Potatoes. Some vegetable or other. And very long faces. Then, mom gets the bright idea to serve Stove Top and, suddenly, the sky is bluer! Birds are chirping in the trees, and everyone is smiling as if they'd just discovered a $20 bill in their pocket. It's a lovely--though intensely overstated--transformation. And Kraft makes a good point: Anything good can be better when accompanied by the right side dish.
Self-storage is no different. There's your standard storage operation--metal buildings, pavement, an office and manager. Then there's storage plus.
Now, the plus used to be the sale of retail products such as boxes, locks, tape and other packing supplies. These are still part of the entrée, but they're appearing with additional services: mailbox and truck rental, records management and standard office services, including the provision of photocopiers and fax machines. Some operators are increasing their value to the commercial sect by leasing land to cell carriers for their towers. Others are flourishing with complementary but separate businesses, such as carwashes, laundrymats, coffeehouses and can-redemption centers.
In this issue, you'll read how to convert your office space into a center for retail sales, the advantages to offering truck rental and how to operate a private postal center. You'll also read about the cost advantage to incorporating records storage into self-storage, and the pitfalls and benefits of working with cell-phone carriers. Finally, you'll read about facilities that have been successfully juggling multiple self-serve operations. It's "Stove Top Storage," coming your way.
Just remember that while the side dish makes the meal better, it can't ever replace the main course! The most important ingredient to this recipe is professional and organized management. Ancillary products and services can be a profitable accompaniment to your storage operation, but only if they exist simultaneously without detracting from the core business.
One final comment before I sign off: I have just returned from the Inside Self-Storage Expo in Las Vegas. On behalf of the magazine and tradeshow team, I'd like to extend our deepest gratitude to the suppliers, speakers and, above all, attendees who made the show an amazing success. It was another record-breaker. Please continue to call and e-mail with your feedback so we may make future shows even better. Thank you for your support of the industry and ISS.
Teri L. Lanza