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Teri Lanza

Teri Lanza
Editorial Director
tlanza@vpico.com

Resolutions Are Great ... What Are Your Actual PLANS for Self-Storage in 2012?

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"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

~Henry David Thoreau, American Author, 1817-1862

Without blinking, we've landed smack dab in the second week of January. The new year is well under way. Many of us have made resolutions regarding our personal lives and businesses, and it's wise to have goals for the months ahead. But realistically, what are your plans? Making a decree is one thing; establishing a strategy to bring it to life is another entirely.

Inside Self-Storage is currently conducting an online poll to find out self-storage operators' top resolution for their business in 2012. As of today, the results are as follows:

Self-Storage Resolutions Poll***

Is there anything here that surprises you? It's no shock that delinquencies and rental rates top the list of priorities, as self-storage operators set a hopeful eye toward a recovering economy and aim to improve their revenue stream. Other respondents—more than 9 percent—are more fixated on the expense side of the equation. In either case, the goal is to improve those bottom-line dollars.

If this is an area of interest to you, be sure to register for the free webinar taking place on Jan. 19: "Strategies to Boost Income and Cut Costs: Taking a Page From the Playbook of Top Self-Storage Operators." During this event, presented by industry experts from AAAA Self Storage Management Group, you'll learn how to establish new profit centers as part of your self-storage business, low-cost do-it-yourself marketing, how to achieve bulk buying power, strategies for hiring and training effective managers, and more.

Looks like self-storage real estate should continue to see some hot activity this year, if our poll participants have anything to do with it. If you think stringent financing has hampered self-storage acquisitions, guess again. Several of the real estate investment trusts and other large industry operators reported record acquisition numbers for 2011, and experts predict the trend to continue.

Yesterday, ISS Editor Amy Campbell published an overview of 2011 REIT activity. "New self-storage construction may have come to a standstill, but acquisitions are on fire. After a couple of years of barely-there activity in the self-storage real estate market, 2011 was a banner year for buying and selling properties," she writes. Read about key transactions from last year as well as predictions from companies such as CubeSmart, Extra Space and Sovran Self Storage.

Technology is another area where operators will be focusing their energy this year, from the installation of new security equipment and kiosks to the development of robust websites and online-marketing plans. A lot falls into this category, but some things to be thinking about as you analyze your operation are:

  • Management software: Does it allow for maximum efficiency? Can you take online rentals and payment? Can you track your marketing? Can you integrate with other essential systems?
  • Website: Is your facility website optimized to attract and convert Web browsers?
  • Kiosks: How can you improve the efficiency of your staff and generate income during the facility's off hours? Do your customers clamor for greater convenience?
  • Mobile: Is your facility website optimized for use on mobile devices?
  • Security: Is your facility outfitted with upgraded security equipment, which protects employees, customers and stored goods (and serves as a great sales and marketing tool)?

Whatever your self-storage resolutions for 2012, they'll come to very little if you don't have a concrete action plan to achieve them. Have you established a tangible set of guidelines for meeting your operational goals? Maybe you need to sit down with your staff and sketch out a marketing plan and budget, or write a new set of policies and for the collection of delinquencies. Perhaps you need to contact your local real estate broker or lender to put things in motion for a purchase or sale. Maybe you want to upgrade to a software to program that can help you identify opportunities for rate increases.

Now's the time to start building your foundation ... the nitty gritty behind those castles-in-the-air visions. Need some help getting organized? Start with some pointers on goal-setting from Lime Tree Management's Linnea Appleby in the article "Personal Goal-Setting: Living Life Your Way and Fulfilling Lifetime Objectives." From there, seek out guidance from experienced industry professionals, whether they be fellow operators, consultants or suppliers.

You can do this for free online at any time by visiting Self-Storage Talk. Or, for a comprehensive educational experience, attend the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 14-16. You won't find a better place to get expert advice on industry topics. It's also a great place to set wheels in motion for your 2012 plans ... hire vendors, shop products, ask questions and begin setting real, hands-on strategy.

If you'd like to participate in the ISS poll on New Year's resolutions, simply look to the right-side panel of this website and enter your response. Is your resolution missing from the list of choices? Share it here in the blog. What castle will you be building in 2012?

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