I have always liked lists. As a kid, I spent hours with my older brother absorbing the obscure information contained in the annual “Book of Lists,” reading about everything from the worst movies ever made to the dog breeds most likely to bite people. Looking back, that was probably the foundation for all the trivial knowledge I have rattling around inside my head.
As a music hound and former entertainment writer, I enjoy reading annual, year-end Top 10 lists from reviewers, and as a journalist, it’s easy to get engrossed in reading media lists ranking the year’s top stories.
Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought it would be fun to pour through some sales data from the ISS Store to see what our hottest sellers were during the course of 2014. The list is interesting and backs up the notion that a new wave of development and investment are propelling the self-storage industry forward. It also will give you some insight as to the types of information and topics your colleagues and competitors are consuming.
Cushman & Wakefield’s (C&W) quarterly MSA reports were our top-seller for 2014. This isn’t too surprising considering they appeal to existing storage operators looking for performance data in their local markets as well as investors and developers trying to gauge areas in which to build or zero in on regions poised for growth.
Released each quarter, reports are available for each of the top 50 U.S. MSAs and contain information regarding income, expenses, occupancy, supply, rental rates and concessions within a specific MSA.
Each year during the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, we try to video as many education sessions as possible. For 2014, we were able to offer six tracks in their entirety in DVD format as well as on-demand video. While we saw a surge in on-demand video sales this year, probably due to users becoming more comfortable with the platform, DVDs were the leader in expo-education content.
The expo content is purchased by those who cannot make it to Las Vegas for the annual conference as well as by expo attendees. Many who attend the ISS Expo buy the DVDs to refer back to education sessions they attended or watch desired seminars that may have been running concurrently to those they saw in person. The DVDs enable operators to be present in more than one seminar room at a time and make great training material for staff who are unable to join us each year in Vegas.
To give you an idea as to the demand for the content, our top-selling DVD title was the Total Self-Storage Solutions 2014: Education DVD 30-Pack, which encompasses all 30 education sessions in the six tracks we recorded. Second was the Self-Storage Operation 2014: DVD Mega Pack, which encompasses the 15 sessions included in the Ownership, Management and Marketing tracks.
The Guidebook Series continues to be very popular, offering critical information and tips on self-storage ownership, facility management, marketing, building, investing, and ancillary products and services. The 2014 series includes five thematic, PDF Guidebooks in these crucial areas of business.
We recently released the 2015 Guidebook Series, reducing the thematic editions to three but expanding both the Ownership and Facility-Management Guidebooks to include articles previously featured in editions that focused on add-on profit centers, marketing and technology. New for 2015 is the Guidebook Digest, a hard-copy edition that offers select articles from the digital series.
Another clue into the development interest within the industry is our annual fall release of the ISS Top-Operators List, which ranks by square-footage the Top 100 operators in self-storage. We have continued to develop the ISS Store product, which is popular with investors, developers, owners and suppliers. The 2014 Top-Operators List package includes an Excel spreadsheet featuring data on the Top 100, a PDF report examining movement within the rankings, and a full presentation of the list in an easy-to-read format.
6. Your Self-Storage: Planning, Site Selection, Design, Build (by Marc Goodin)
Top-sellers 5-7 continue the development theme, striking a chord with those looking to get into the business or expand their operational footprints. The Building/Investing Guidebook was the top individual title in the 2014 Series (check out the 2015 edition), while Goodin’s digital book containing 150 ideas geared to ensure designing and planning success for self-storage projects was the most popular individual book with ISS Store customers.
C&W’s Market Conditions Report examines the supply and demand conditions in the top 50 U.S. MSAs to determine whether they are under supplied, at equilibrium or over supplied. A new offering in 2014, it proved to be a very popular tool for customers doing their development fact gathering and due diligence. The report featuring 2014 data will be out soon.
8. Self-Storage Expense Report 2013 (C&W)
Top-sellers 8-10 have a decidedly operational tone to them and are popular with storage owners looking to improve business efficiencies. The Expense Report provides a sample of real costs per square foot for fixed and variable operating expenses and presents the data nationally, by region and subdivision. This was another new offering from C&W this year, and we’ll be releasing the 2014 report in the coming weeks.
We released three Key of Knowledge USB drives this year featuring a wealth of video and written training material from Bob Copper. The most robust drive, affectionately known as the Green Key, proved most popular with customers. It contains a comprehensive set of written and recorded training materials designed to help operators increase the production and profitability of their storage facilities.
The Tenant Exit-Survey Package was another new release in 2014. It contains a sample exit survey operators can use at their facilities, including fully customizable versions, as well as a special software user’s manual detailing how to use the exit-survey features of several popular management-software products. It also includes an educational guide on how to build a strong referral program.
We’re constantly looking to develop new educational products for the store that will help operators run their businesses more effectively and profitably. If there’s a type of product you’d like to see added to the ISS Store or a business topic you’d like to see addressed within our content offerings, please let us know in the comment section below.
For all of us at ISS, I wish you a healthy, exciting and prosperous New Year.