By Bryan Hurlbert
In 2007, David Bonadies partnered with some friends to purchase a 50,000-square-foot former department store and convert it to a self-storage facility. Despite poor economic conditions over the last four years, occupancy has risen at Stafford Storage. This success is a testament to the owners’ ability to be the first choice for their customers.
“If we take care of our customers, they will continue to vote their confidence in us by continuing to do business with us,” Bonadies said. A side benefit to creating satisfied customers is it increases positive word-of-mouth advertising for the business, he added.
But don’t let its customer-centric approach fool you into thinking Stafford Storage isn't about turning a profit. The owners believe they can create revenue while focusing on its customer base and the environment.
They recently examined their business-cost drivers—property taxes, labor costs and utilities—to see if they could reduce expenses. While they can't control their property taxes, and they're comfortable with their labor costs, they decided to hone in on utilities as a way to reduce environmental impact and minimize overhead. This strategy enabled them to operate within their corporate mantra, “people, planet, profit.”
Lighting Showed the Way
Lighting was an easy target to pursue. While fluorescent lights are not expensive, they're pricey to maintain. Stafford Storage has high ceilings, which makes changing bulbs difficult. The owners had to hire a cherry-picker to change out the lights, which cost more time and money than desired. With a burn-out rate of 5 percent to 10 percent, it was getting costly.
In addition, the light levels emitted by the old-tech florescent tube fixtures and bulbs depreciated quickly, making it necessary to keep new lights in the fixtures as much as possible. The fluorescent light also did not work well with the facility's digital surveillance cameras. The recorders couldn’t pick up areas with low light levels, decreasing the effectiveness of the security system.
Continually replacing fluorescent lights no longer seemed to make sense. Instead, the facility owners upped the ante by implementing the most commercially viable level of technology available to them: LED lighting.