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9 Tips From the Pros for Conducting Self-Storage Auctions

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6. Control the Crowd

Have bidders sign in so you know who was visiting your property. Don’t let a bunch take over the lobby while you’re trying to run a business. “I tell them once they sign in, go to their vehicles and wait,” Maglio said.

Beware of getting too close to buyers who buddy up to you to unearth details about what’s inside the units. “When I see that, I just stop it right there,” he added.

7. Maintain Integrity of the Units

Don’t allow bidders inside units, which should be viewed from outside the open door. “If there are 20 people in there, we can’t see everything they do,” Davis said. “One of them may open up a jewelry box.”

Maglio recommends placing security tabs on units with locks that were cut before the auction. That way, it’s obvious that no one has pilfered the unit. Also, if tenants show up to pay at the last minute, they know that no one has rifled through their things.

8. Watch Out for Conspiracy

Several bidders can agree among themselves to not bid against one of them, who then buys the unit for next to nothing. Later, the group makes a killing when they split up the contents.

“We recognize what’s going on, and we stop it right away,” Maglio said. Other bidders will recognize it, too. “A lot of people will say, ‘I’m not going back to that guy. He’s not doing things right.’”

9. Remove Emotions

Auction is a “highly emotional day” for self-storage managers, Maglio said. You’re lucky if you break even on what your facility is owed. Tenants who didn’t respond to late-payment notices eventually will show up angry and frustrated. Today, though, your focus needs to stay on the sale.

Managers need to “deal with facts and not emotions,” Maglio said. “It’s their least favorable day, but it can also turn into a good day.”

Deb Hipp is a freelance writer in Kansas City, Mo. She writes for “The Storage Facilitator” blog,, and other websites, as well as her own “Tales from the Bark Side” blog. She enjoys working with animals and is involved in the Kansas City, Mo., animal-rescue community.

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