Strategic Capital Holdings LLC (SCH), the sponsor of self-storage operator Strategic Storage Trust Inc., has partnered with StorageBattles.com to offer online storage auctions for its SmartStop Self Storage locations. The company had previously relied on its district managers to oversee its onsite lien auctions.
“This is really the next evolutionary step in the self-storage industry to migrate away from in-person auctions to online auctions,” said H. Michael Schwartz, president of SCH and CEO of Strategic Storage Trust, a publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust. “StorageBattles.com offers an efficient way for consumers to view as many available auctions as possible in the privacy of their own homes versus driving to each individual property.”
Company officials said they believe the move to online auctions will help SCH district managers gain back the equivalent of two to three business days each month to focus more energy on revenue-generating activities such as sales training and increasing occupancy.
“The in-place auction is a very disruptive process that competed for our managers’ time, distracted them from their main responsibilities and sometimes inconvenienced our customers,” said Ken Morrison, president of Strategic Storage Property Management LLC, which oversees the SmartStop portfolio.
StorageBattles uses an eBay-style format in which self-storage operators post pictures and videos of units up for auction, along with descriptions of unit contents. Potential buyers can bid on units via their computer, tablet or smartphone after they sign up for a free website account. The system allows bidders to participate in auctions outside of their immediate area and pick up the items in the days following the lien sale. The website currently includes about 3,500 self-storage facilities and 250,000 registered bidders.
The company’s online auctions have enabled facility operators to maximize their loss recovery from an industry average of 50 percent to more than 117 percent, said James Grant, president and CEO of StorageBattles. The website also offers customer service and legal support.
“By selling online, we provide a service to the bidder because now they have a venue in which they can purchase the units online,” Morrison said. “And at the same time, it gets us our unit back so we can rent it quickly to a paying customer.”
StorageBattles was created by storage-industry veterans with more than 30 years of experience who were frustrated by the inadequacies of onsite auctions, according to a press release. The site was designed to increase auction efficiency and alleviate frustrations experienced by operators and bidders.
The Strategic Storage Trust portfolio includes more than 100 self-storage facilities across the United States and Canada that are branded as SmartStop Self Storage. It includes approximately 78,000 self-storage units and 9.5 million square feet of rentable storage space.