When it comes to developing a self-storage business, there's much more than the physical plant to consider. Where and how you build your facility is critical, of course. It's important to research the market, consumer demand and the competition. You've got to think about unit mix and site design, as well as important add-ons such as solar panels and boat/RV space. Convenience, curb appeal, security components and other tangible aspects all affect the decision of the customer to rent with you.
But once the site is built, you enter the vital lease-up phase, where you grow your customer base and business reputation. This stage is equally important to the success of the facility, and yet the skills and tasks involved are a completely different ball of wax. On this operational side of the equation, the focus is on marketing and managerial strength.
Learn how to build your business from the ground up and the inside out during the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 14-16. The industry's most comprehensive conference and tradeshow will teach you everything you need to know about constructing and developing a facility to building its clientele and public image. Visit www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com to view a detailed education agenda, read about presenters, access a list of exhibitors, register for the show and more.
Part I: Building Toward Success: Development and Construction
By Tony Jones
Although the lagging economy has continued to play a role in the slow rate of new builds in the self-storage industry, theres never a bad time for operators and investors to think about important construction and development issues relative to their business, whether planning projects for the future or re-investing in current facilities.
Budgets are tight these days, and financial mistakes made during planning can make or break the success of a project. Several of this years educational sessions are designed to minimize costly errors while optimizing prudent planning procedures. Five sessions on Wednesday, March 14, will cover everything from the importance of feasibility studies to the viability of solar energy. Any remaining questions or topics of interest likely can be addressed Wednesday evening, 6-7 p.m., when several Roundtable Discussions will focus on aspects of self-storage construction and development.
In a tough business climate, no project should move forward without proper planning. Operators and investors with any projects in the works should strongly consider attending the seminar Self-Storage Feasibility Due Diligence: Its a Requirement, Not an Option." Jim Chiswell, president of Chiswell & Associates LLC, will address the critical aspects of preparing a feasibility study or due diligence report, examining issues such as site selection, demographics, competitive analysis and pro forma projections.
One of the challenges in todays market is space. Land parcels that may make attractive self-storage locations but are too small for an expansive facility may still make an ideal setting for multi-story construction. Multi-story facilities have become popular as developers have sought high-quality urban locations or looked for ways to minimize land investment. In Going Vertical in Self-Storage: Multi-Story Construction, Caesar Wright, president of Mako Steel Inc., will address the best ways to lay out a multi-story self-storage project while keeping an eye on construction costs.
Similarly, investing in alternative energy sources is another strategy to increase the efficiency of a facilitys footprint while adding to the bottom line over the long term. Bob Hayworth, owner and CEO of Baja Construction Co., and Robin Heuer, a partner with Elevated Solar, will present Solar Self-Storage 101: Technology, Costs, Financial Incentives and More." They'll discuss the many benefits of solar strategies, including structural configurations designed to maximize investment, best site locations and system output.
A complete rundown of the expos construction and development educational sessions can be found at www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.
Part II: Meaningful and Cost-Effective Marketing
By Hayden Harrison
Nowadays, marketing comes in all forms: broadcast, online ads, social media, websites and more. Because there are many different mediums of marketing, it's important to learn how to use them effectively. Self-storage operators can attend seminars on facility marketing during the ISS Expo.
Businesses can be promoted using mass media and/or online tools. Deciding which is better is up to the operator. During the seminar "The Great Debate: Mass Media vs. Web Marketing in Self-Storage," presenters will argue which method is superior while teaching the factors that affect success with broadcast advertising. Attendees will learn to use broadcast to brand and benefit their business, develop mass-media strategies and combine mass media with the Internet, all while being cost-efficient.
The Internet can be used in many ways to advertise a self-storage facility. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can attract specific traffic to companies by using services such as Google AdWords. At the ISS Expo, attendees will learn which keywords to use, ways to incorporate PPC with other Web-marketing tools, and how to find optimal cost and conversion.
The use of social media can be merged with existing marketing plans, and attendees will learn what sites to use and how to leverage them to attract customers. With quick-response, matrix barcodes popping up all over, self-storage owners can begin to use this method to market through potential customers' portable devices.
Most companies have websites, but not all are effective. By attending expo seminars, facility operators can learn to design their website for better readability, make their website more findable using search engine optimization (SEO), and how to turn visitors into customers.
SEO is vital for websites, and learning how to use key terms will help storage businesses survive. Once people are drawn to the website, it's important to keep them there with great design and content. Expo attendees will learn just that during the seminar, "An SEO-Survival Guide for Beginners: How to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast Your Competition."
By attending marketing seminars at the ISS Expo, facility operators will learn to promote their businesses, rope in prospects and turn potential renters into customers.