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Teri Lanza

Teri Lanza
Editorial Director
tlanza@vpico.com

Expand Your Self-Storage Brand, Work Your Business Expansion Plan

By Teri Lanza Comments
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When people talk about expanding a business brand, they're referring to a company's ability to permeate a marketplace with knowledge of its reputation, products and services. This includes an online presence—how people experience the brand through its own website, other online retailers, social media and general Web-based "conversation." It also consists of a physical presence, whether that means getting your widget in front of more eyeballs or the mushrooming of brand locations.

In the case of self-storage, brand extension often involves the addition of new facilities. No matter how robust your company is online or even in its immediate community, a single store has only so much reach. Its capacity is limited by the size of its market and, of course, available inventory. Self-storage operators that are serious about corporate growth need the ability to serve more customers; that means adding buildings to an existing site or developing new projects.

Inside Self-Storage is in the final stages of completing its 2013 Top-Operators List, which identifies 100 of the industry's most notable movers and shakers and will be released to the industry in September. We're still crunching data to see how these companies rank based on total square footage, but I've been intrigued to read through the comments shared in relation to their expansion plans. Just glancing through the list's principal contenders, it's very clear that going bigger with an already big brand is definitely part of the agenda. Here's a sneak peek:

  • It's no shock that the industry real estate investment trusts are all looking to take on more third-party management contracts and expand their portfolios where it makes sense. Public Storage, CubeSmart, Extra Space and Sovran (Uncle Bob's) all plan to acquire and develop new facilities where it is prudent. 
  • U-Haul plans to make strategic acquisitions of existing storage facilities as well as entertain the possibility of some ground-up construction and conversion projects.
  • StorageMart is planning another $20 million in facility acquisitions and $20 million in new site development.
  • Metro Storage LLC is not only seeking third-party management, development and acquisitions throughout the continental United States, it's opening two new facilities in Sau Paulo, Brazil.
  • Morningstar Properties is actively acquiring and developing properties across the southern United States.
  • Absolute Storage Management Inc. will continue to add management contracts in existing markets as well as purchase under-performing assets in the mid-south and southeast.

So what's your company's brand-expansion plan? Are you adding new units, buildings or entire facilities? What about a smaller, unmanned site with a kiosk? I'd love to get some feedback (you can use the "Comments" button below). In the meantime, here's information on some resources that can be incredibly useful to your mission.

Watch your mailboxes this week as the September 2013 issue of ISS magazine hits the streets. This edition takes a close look at self-storage building and development including trends, the construction timeline and budget, building aesthetics, conversions and more. Don't have a subscription? Order one today through our subscriber service page. Or purchase a digital copy of current and past magazine issues in ISS Store.

While you're there, investigate the newly added digital book by self-storage owner and civil engineer Marc Goodin, "Your Self-Storage: Planning, Site Selection, Design, Build." This book contains more than 150 ideas to help owners and developers save time and money on their next project. You'll get the benefit of secrets learned over Marc's 25-plus years in the business.

To explore other related resources, click on the "Construction/Development" topic on the store's left navigation bar. You'll find videos (on-demand and DVD versions) as well as our "Building/Investing Guidebook," and more. And heads up! Be sure to check back in two weeks when we'll be rolling out a series of building-related audiocast packages including "The Real Cost of Building a Self-Storage Facility" and "Friendly Self-Storage: Innovative Facility Design."

ISS offers a number of free resources in these areas as well, and I urge you to take advantage of the many fantastic articles you'll find on our "Construction" and "Development" topics pages. In particular, I think you'll enjoy these image galleries, which show you the latest trends in building components, architecture, site design and aesthetics: "The Self-Storage WOW Gallery: See Facility Design Transformed Through Color, Architecture and Innovative Materials" and "Fresh Trends in Self-Storage: Facility Design and Building Showcase."

There are numerous ways to increase the scope of your self-storage brand; but if you're looking to physically enlarge your company footprint, the process is multi-faceted and can be complex. We've aimed to provide information that covers the procedure from all angles and assists owners and developers in meeting success. Even if you're a facility manager for whom development-related decisions are not an immediate concern, consider how industry growth in your area impacts your customer base and revenue.

Every self-storage building that goes up affects the market as a whole and creates a ripple effect through the industry. So ... work your plan, expand your brand, but most of all, do it thoughtfully.

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