In 2012, being a remarkable self-storage operatorin the eyes of customers and peersis about more than renting clean space at a decent price. It's also more than location, convenience, security and customer service, features that five to 10 years ago would separate the wheat from the chaff. The bar has been significantly raised, most particularly as technology tools, the Internet and market saturation have completely altered the industry landscape.
Today Inside Self-Storage has published its 2012 Top-Operators List, which highlights 100 of the industry's principal players. The list is ranked by total square footage, but if you look at the companies included, you'll realize many of them have a lot more going for them than size. The most successful operators in our business are those that have developed a formula for predicting, understanding and meeting customer needs and expectations.
It may not be all the time or in every market, but they've learned to deliver their message and product in consumers' desired format. This might mean offering online reservations, or a self-serve kiosk or a mobile website. It may mean the provision of office space, customizable storage options, high-end security, package acceptance, shipping services or any number of other specialized amenities.
In the past week, ISS has launched two free resources for self-storage operators looking to differentiate their business from competitors and garner the designation "remarkable." The first is a digital issue crafted for green-minded readers, "Solar Technology in Self-Storage: Generating Energy and Revenue." This online publication will help facility operators evaluate the ecological and financial advantages created by the addition of solar panels to their sites. If you're prepared to make the upfront investment, the use of such technology will allow you to generate clean energy, please the local community, attract more customers and reduce expenses. This issue includes articles, case studies and financial models that can help guide your process.
A second digital asset gets to the heart of a simpler and more common customer attraction: truck rentals. Our most recent whitepaper, "Implementing Truck Rentals at Your Self-Storage Facility," will teach you about the process, what to expect and how to excel. Though this is a very popular amenity in our industry, there are still many facilities that don't offer it, either because there's no demand in the market, too much supply in the market, or the operator is hesitant for a host of other reasons. This comprehensive guide addresses program types, buying vs. leasing trucks, a detailed cost analysis, return on investment, truck types to offer, insurance, licensing, truck graphics/marketing and the truck-rental agreement.
Neither solar energy nor truck rentals will make you remarkable in and of themselves. But offered in combination with a facility that is well-maintained and efficiently operated, as well as a staff well-trained in sales and service, they can be the distinguishing characteristic that elevates your business to greatness in a competitive market. The debate may be out on whether size matters, and the companies featured on this year's Top-Operators List certainly have some weight to throw around the storage arena. But with the right business formula, you too can be a chief operator in your own market(s).
What's working for you? Do you offer truck rentals? Is yours a "green" facility? What's your trademark? Share your "claim to fame" here in the blog.