ISS Blog

Surviving in 2009

I don't watch network television, and even if I were a fan of it, I still wouldn't have wasted viewing hours on the brain-corroding Survivor series that has taken the American public by storm. It sounds like a toxic program revealing all that is hideous about Mankind. (And it has a lot of company.)

Regardless, even us non-converts know about the premise for the show, and I can't help but feel the business world—including the little corner that belongs to self-storage—has become a real-life rendition. What everyone wants to know is, at the end of the game, who will be left standing?

Endurance, not progress, has become the focus for many companies in this down economy. Those that are prepared to innovate and adapt may yet remain when the pendulum swings. In relation to that theme, I have two important announcements.

First, a press release came across the wire today regarding the merger of two well-known self-storage companies, Janus International and U.S. Door, both providers of doors and other building components. Janus President David Curtis cited the economy as the driving force behind the decision: "We feel that due to decreasing levels of available business and the increased level of supply on the market, a merger is in our best interests." What I see is two strong companies positioning themselves to survive and succeed in the coming year. A smart move.

Also, the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, which takes place in Las Vegas just weeks from now, has added an important opening session to its agenda, speaking to the concerns of existing storage operators. On Jan. 26, a panel of industry pundits will provide the "Top Three Strategies for Self-Storage Survival and Success in 2009," touching on key areas for businesses.

Legal expert Jeffrey Greenberger will talk about minimizing risk and liability, citing the strategies of some of the industry's larger operators. BETCO's vice president of sales and marketing, Terry Campbell, will address the importance of renovations and refurbishments to a facility's ability to compete in today's market. He'll be providing examples from actual case studies to show how upgrades can improve facility image and occupancy. Bob Copper, owner of Self-Storage 101, will cover operational essentials that can enhance facility performance: manager training, phone skills, customer service and others.

Appropriately, the theme of the upcoming expo is "Survive and Thrive in 2009," and we've built a comprehensive education program geared toward helping storage owners and managers remain productive and profitable, even in a challenging business landscape. I believe we'll see more company mergers and closures over the next few months. Some of these changes will be the result of healthy decisions made in the interest of long-term success. Even businesses have a survival instinct. We'll see who are the last ones on the island.

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