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Getting the Most Out of a Self-Storage Feasibility Study

Jeffrey Supnick Comments

A great deal has been written about what makes for a suitable self-storage site location. The key variables are visibility and convenience of location within a market. In determining the feasibility of any site are three foundational questions nearly every self-storage feasibility needs to address:

  • Is there sufficient demand to support development?
  • Does the site have the appropriate characteristics to support a successful location in the market?
  • Does the proposed development make sense from an economic standpoint?

The answers to these questions go beyond location and market economics and rests squarely on design and unit mix.

To be of the utmost value, a thorough feasibility study takes what has been learned about the site, market and competition, then develops it for specific market and operational strategies, proposed unit mix and amenities. What features will attract tenants in the proposed market? How can you best position the property to take advantage of its strengths and minimize weaknesses?

The opportunity to use the insights gained during the feasibility study as an effective planning tool for the development and operation of your facility is immeasurable. Such planning will pay off in great dividends during the many years your facility is in business.

Learning From Your Competitors

In the competition-analysis portion of the feasibility study, review the competitors’ unit mix and occupancies by unit type. Pay attention to rental rates of units. Units in short supply are likely the ones in demand; likewise, discounted units are probably those that are harder to rent to potential tenants.

What amenities and facility features are missing in the market? Can extended hours of operation set you apart? Do all the facilities in the market have lighting inside units? Are there multi-story facilities with poor loading and accessibility? Do they offer the use of a truck? Once you evaluate the competition, develop an action plan to make your site succeed.

Phasing Plan

While not always included in every feasibility study, make sure you have an opportunity to consider developing your facility in phases. It’s always difficult to create the perfect unit mix for a new facility. Phasing enables operators to make adjustments to meet current and future market demand.

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