|The Inside Scoop|
Self-Storage Audience Trending Toward Tech
Industry-wide events such as last week's Inside Self-Storage World Expo in New Orleans provide a good snapshot of trends in self-storage. As many professionals are gathered in one place, it's easy to reach non-scientific conclusions about where the industry is headed. To summarize my conclusion in one sentence: The self-storage industry has made tremendous strides in becoming tech-savvy in the past year, and it doesn't show signs of slowing down. Here are a few anecdotal observations from the Inside Self-Storage World Expo.
Smartphones Are Everywhere
Just having a cell phone isn't enough anymore. More people in the industry require having the Internet and their e-mail with them at all times in the form of a mobile device. Work issues don't stop just because owners and managers travel out of the office, so smartphones make it possible to stay in touch and caught up. Even when not traveling, Blackberries and iPhones are increasingly becoming must-have items in this industry. That means industry resources, such as Self-Storage Talk and ISS, must be mobile-friendly.
"Yellow Pages? What Are Those? I Need Website Traffic!"
In the Self-Storage Q&A during the first day of the show, industry expert (and Self-Storage Talk moderator) Jim Chiswell asked the audience to raise a hand if they has increased their Yellow Pages advertising in the past year. Not a single person in a room full of hundreds raised a hand. However, an audience member followed Chiswell's question with one about increasing website traffic—and how to translate that traffic into customers. That discussion ensued for 20 minutes with fervent interest.
Self-Storage Talk Is Not a Secret Anymore
Part of my role at the expo is to try to spread the word about SST and get new members to sign up and participate in the forum. Though I acted with piranha-like tenacity (and got helpful plugs from notable pros such as Chiswell, and SST moderators Mel Holsinger and Brad North), I learned the forum is no longer a secret in the industry. Many people are already aware the forum exists, and they've probably already visited the site at least once.
Quite a few are still lurkers who read the site regularly, but for whatever reason, choose not to post. The challenge is getting lurkers and others to see SST's value and devote the time necessary to become active in the community. But make no mistake: If someone isn’t using SST it's not because they’re scared of computers or the online-forum concept. They've been there before, and they just need a little push to sign up.
The technological trends among self-storage operators, owners and investors reflect similar trends among consumers. To have success attracting tenants, you must venture to the frontier of tech advances. One of the best ways to stay abreast of these issues is to register and participate on Self-Storage Talk. If you haven't given the forum a chance yet, you should. It's free, it's fun and it's part of the future of the industry.