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Changing Perspectives in Self-Storage: Budgets, Education, SEO

Jim Chiswell Comments

As I talk with self-storage owners and managers across the country, I’ve concluded that many of us need to shift our perspectives about our businesses and bottom-line results. To bury your head like an ostrich, unwilling to deal with the new reality, isn’t healthy for you, your facility or anyone else.

While a few storage locations will maintain or return to 90 percent-plus economic occupancy this year, they’ll be the exception and not the rule. We’ve been seeing a growing gap appear between physical occupancy (square footage or unit count) and financial occupancy. There’s no way to close that space while you’re giving away rent and other discount incentives.

As an owner, if you’re budgeting with a 90 percent or higher financial-occupancy goal, you’re setting up yourself and your management team for disappointment. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that by attempting to motivate your managers with unrealistically high goals that you can somehow get them to work harder. In my experience, when everyone from the top down agrees to the budgetary and written goals for the year, you have a real chance at achieving them.

It’s still early enough in the year to consider resetting your budgetary goals. Consider the answer to this question: “What do I really think the new ‘normal’ is for my business?

What’s On Your Education Schedule This Year?

I’m curious what owners and managers are planning for themselves in terms of educational opportunities in the year ahead.  Will you be taking online training sessions or participating in a local Toastmasters International? Will you become an active member of the Self-Storage Talk online community or attend a national or state expo or conference? Perhaps you’ll download a special-interest webinar or podcast?

It might be as simple as starting your own book or magazine-article club where everyone reads the same item and shares thoughts on how its lessons could be applied to your business. The opportunities for education are virtually endless. However, it takes intention coupled with resources (time and a bit of money) to include learning as a goal for the months ahead.

I’ve debated the concept of continuing education with owners for years. Some still believe their employees are “just fine the way they are, thank you!” I couldn’t disagree more. No matter how skilled your people are, there are always new things to learn and different methods to improve your facility’s operation or customer service.

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