Overcoming Self-Storage Development Hurdles in Canada

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Smaller towns are also starting to develop self-storage. “Canada is starting to catch up with the U.S.,” Goodin says. Nonetheless, people in rural areas still don’t know enough about the values and uses of self-storage, according to Goodin, and operators and developers will need to continue to educate them through marketing efforts.

Marketing Is Key

Technology has had an impact on the Canadian market, where proximity to the population and an Internet presence are beginning to outweigh the advertising power of street visibility. Goodin stresses that the Internet is a critical part of being a market leader and successful self-storage operator. His facility's website offers an overview of the business, and customers can rent a unit online. Goodin also maintains a Facebook page and participates on Pinterest.

Self-storage owner Marc Goodin outside Caraquet & RV Storage in Caraquet, New Brunswick, Canada.The potential customer’s ability to search for self-storage via GPS and mobile devices allows him to find out which facility is closest to him, making closeness to a high-density area more important to operators than conventional marketing, Lindau says. Community marketing is also critical to bringing in new renters. Caraquet & RV Storage visits local businesses and participates in local events. This helps the company get in touch with residents who may need storage solutions.

In fact, many Canadian self-storage operators are reaching out to their communities by participating in events, donating money or offering local charities the free use of a storage unit. This spring StorageMart properties in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan acted as donation centers for the nonprofit organization Skate to Great. This summer, Apple Self Storage held a "Meat & Greet" event for the Kingston Interval House for Women and Children in Crisis in Kingston, Ontario. All Canadian Self Storage hosted an event featuring a speech from the Canadian Prime Minister, and Vanguard Self Storage sponsored a car race at the Peterborough Speedway in April.

Community and customer connections may be the most important part of self-storage success in Canada. "There's much hype on new trends, but a basic, quality facility, great customer service and wowing the customers are still the key to success," Goodin says.

Molly Bilker is a sophomore journalism major at Arizona State University (ASU) in Phoenix. She is part of ASU's Barrett, the Honors College, and is completing a minor in Spanish. She comes from an arts-focused middle and high school with a creative-writing background. She actively participates in the arts, including creative writing, guitar and vocal music, theater, photography, ballroom dance, drawing, and film. To reach her, e-mail mbilker@vpico.com.

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