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Self-Storage Operators Brainstorm Ways to Better Monetize Facility Auctions


Numerous self-storage operators have reported a huge influx of auction attendees, no doubt thanks to new reality TV shows "Storage Wars" (10:30/9:30 p.m. CT, Wednesdays, A&E) and "Auction Hunters" (7/6 p.m. CT, Tuesdays, SPIKE). Auction buyers come out to the auctions with hopes of buying rare jewels, collectibles, or celebrity belongings, even though the average delinquent unit contains none of these.

Nonetheless, the run of busy lien sales will last for a while, and though its staying power is uncertain, there may be opportunities for self-storage facilities to capitalize on the rush. A discussion of money-making ideas has begun on a thread titled "Monetizing Auctions: Capitalizing on the Influx" on Self-Storage Talk, the self-storage industry's largest online community. The obvious benefit of crowded auctions is operators can feel comfortable they'll recoup their losses from the delinquent units. But most state laws allow facilities to collect only up to what they are owed; any additional revenue from the sale must be returned to the tenant. Therefore, if operators want to capitalize, they'll need to be creative. Here are some ideas being discussed on the forum:

  • Concession sales
  • Lock sales
  • One-day-only discount on units to auction attendees
  • Truck rental—because buyers have to load up their "big finds" somehow
  • On-site cleaning and repair of items
  • LED flashlight sales or rentals

On the other hand, some operators insist they're in the business of renting space, not selling items, and they don't intend to hype their lien sales. They also fear too much distraction might affect auctions' legal protocol, which must be followed to letter. Yet there is still a strong group of operators who see their auctions as an ancillary profit opportunity.

Where do you stand, and what ideas do you have? Have you implemented some profit-making ideas at a recent auction? If so, how did it go? Post responses on the thread. Only registered members can post, but registration is free, and can be done at

Live and growing since 2008, Self-Storage Talk is the official forum of Inside Self-Storage, a dynamic services company that provides publications, events and educational resources for the self-storage industry. SST has approximately 3,960 members, 23 different topical forums, 3,945 discussion threads and 34,500 posts.

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