A wise man once told me everything in life boils down to either your time or your money. I was a young 20-something when he fed me that cold, hard truth, and though I laughed it off as a quip, I’ve been amazed over the years how often those words have proven prophetic. Career and life experiences bring perspective and, hopefully, a little money in your pocket. There have been countless times when I’ve pondered whether to tackle a project myself or hire someone to do it for me. The choice, in many instances, comes down to some combination of the enjoyment of the task, my proficiency at it and any time constraints.
There was a period during the 1980s and ’90s in which some guys I knew hated the technological innovations becoming standard in automobiles because it inhibited them from tinkering on their cars. In this instance, industry evolution outpaced their skillset, forcing them to spend money on something they’d previously handled themselves or causing them to be a holdout to progress, milking their cars for as long as they’d last. Over time, most acquiesced and purchased a modern vehicle that they now take to a certified mechanic.
The time vs. money question is a constant for self-storage operators. Is a maintenance task worth fixing yourself, or should you hire an expert? Should you extend business hours or use a call center to handle inquiries after close? The pain points most similar to the car example might be Web management and marketing. In many instances these are intertwined, with online presence and outreach being every bit as meaningful as your physical property.
According to a 2018 Marketing Technology report published by Walker Sands Communications, Just 28 percent of respondents believed their company’s use of marketing technology had evolved at the same speed of advancements during the previous three years, and that’s despite more than half indicating they added new marketing tools at least once per year. More telling, only 16 percent strongly agreed that the marketing technology in place at their company was up to date and sufficient enough to help them perform their jobs more effectively.
It wasn’t that long ago that a basic business website was enough, but consumer expectations and mobile-technology influences will continue to pressure self-storage operators to adopt conveniences and performance tools to emulate other retail and service sectors. Those pressures are on top of simply trying to maintain reasonable local-search results, have a website that functions on a smartphone, keep up with online reviews and evolve with Google’s latest algorithms to attract new rentals.
For very small businesses, including independent self-storage operators, the old DIY aspects of business Web platforms are being squeezed by progress. It’s tough enough to run a business and physically manage a property without having to figure out the latest ways to enhance search engine optimization, launch a paid-search campaign and keep up with the latest platform demands. Those of you who continue to effectively maintain your own websites and manage your integrated-marketing campaigns inhouse deserve a lot of credit.
With the pace of change quickening, at what point does the strain on internal time and resources outweigh the desire to maintain full control of these aspects to your business, particularly if outsourcing can produce the same or better results while freeing up internal resources to improve other parts of your operation? In the ongoing saga of business time vs. money, the ultimate winner is almost always the one that produces the least amount of friction.