I love a good anti-villain, and right now I get my weekly fix by watching “Ray Donovan” on Showtime. Without divulging the details of the story, I’ll just say the main character, played by Liev Schreiber, is deliciously alluring with his can’t-miss combo of ruthlessness and sensitivity. His behavior can be abhorrent, and yet I find myself cheering him on, feeling a brief but sybaritic zing of turpitude.
Last night’s episode, “One Night in Yerevan,” pleasantly surprised me with a self-storage cameo. We discovered that a supporting character has a storage unit at Saf-T-Store, where he keeps personal items and, unfortunately, some criminal evidence. A nemesis trying to catch him up enters the facility posing as the tenant who has “lost his key” and needs access to his unit.
My husband could only shake his head as I went on to critique the storage manager’s sundry faults. To begin, he failed to stand and greet the customer who entered his office. Next, we learned the facility keeps keys to tenants’ units, providing copies upon request for a small fee—another big blunder and general point of contention within our industry. The manager did ask the alleged tenant for identification, but quickly waived that requirement when offered a fat cash bribe. Naughty, naughty.
I wondered if this was a real storage facility or one created as a set for the sake of the show. If it was a fake, it truly was a wasted opportunity for some enterprising storage operator out there—not that any company would want to be associated with the corrupt employee, but what an excellent marketing maneuver it would be to have one’s brand name and logo plastered on that screen! It made me think back to several years ago when Manhattan Mini-Storage featured its branding on the hit HBO show “Sex and the City.”
It also made me think of a question we recently asked our Inside Self-Storage 2015 Best of Business (BoB) winners: If your self-storage brand could be subtly promoted on any TV show, what would it be and why? (Give some thought to how you would answer this question about your own operation. We’ll come back to it later.)
This week we’re in production on the Inside Self-Storage November 2015 issue, which includes personal profiles of this year’s BoB winners. When we solicit content for these pages, we do our best to design interview questions that will get at the heart of each business and why it’s successful. Mostly we aim to intrigue our readers and give them a glimpse of the company’s culture. We want them to see the human side of the business, to feel connected to its leadership and employees. The question above was just one of several we asked this year to help “lift the veil” on each of the poll picks.
Sadly, most of our respondents just didn’t get it. Either they didn’t understand the question, or they weren’t inspired to answer it. I expected some very inventive responses—after all, people can be rather attached to their TV programs and the imagined worlds and characters therein—but mostly, our winners just said they’d want to be featured on “Storage Wars,” which was disappointing on so many levels. After all, the choices are copious. We didn’t even limit answers to current programming.
That said, we did get creative replies to some of our other questions, for example, “What business challenge keeps you up at night?” and “If you were to summarize your company philosophy as a fortune-cookie message, what would it be?” Check out the November issue when it hits the streets early next month to see what your favorite companies had to say.
But back to the question at hand … How would YOU “tele-vision” your self-storage business? If you could see your brand promoted as part of any TV show, past or present, what would it be and why? Please share your responses in the comments section below!
For the ISS brand, I’d have to say “Eastbound & Down.” I’d love to see Kenny Powers considering self-storage as an investment for holding for some of his baseball largesse, reading ISS for guidance or even attending the ISS Expo in Las Vegas with this sidekick, Steve, to vet the industry. I wonder which outfit he’d wear? Maybe he'd say something deeply insightful about our business, like "Yeah, I'm pretty much re-engineering man's approach to self-storage, if you want to get down to brass tacks."