In the Face of COVID-19 Adversity, the Best Self-Storage Business Option Is to Persevere

Though it may seem like an eternity since the coronavirus pandemic turned our lives upside down, it’s barely been more than three months. Dealing with adversity can be daunting, but here are several useful resources that can help self-storage operators, developers and investors persevere.

Tony Jones, ISS Store Manager, Contributing Editor

June 12, 2020

4 Min Read
In the Face of COVID-19 Adversity, the Best Self-Storage Business Option Is to Persevere

When my stepdaughter was 12 and trying out for the U.S. synchronized-swimming national team in her age group for the second time, I gave her three sealed, numbered envelopes with instructions to open them in sequence, one per day. Each contained a primary word across the top, along with supporting quotes that I hoped would inspire her in her quest.

The first was “Believe” because self-doubt is the enemy of success. The second was “Focus” because when you’re not naturally as gifted as other athletes, getting every ounce of your ability and giving attention to detail can help make up the difference. The third was “Persevere” because I knew she wasn’t likely to make it; but I believed that with the right determination, she could one day achieve her goal. I wanted her to return home with a positive outlook even though her initial reaction to the experience was likely to be disappointment.

That third envelope became the most important. Had she been a boy, I probably would have nicknamed her Chumbawamba because she came to embody perseverance throughout her career. She’d get knocked down, and she’d get up again, just like the lyric in the song, “Tubthumping.” Instead, she wore the moniker “small but mighty” with pride. She kept chipping away. Working. Improving. Closing the gap.

In 2015, after five unsuccessful attempts, she was appointed to the U.S. Junior National Team, only to have her competition and training canceled due to some misguided politics and self-interests of others. That’s a tough life lesson for a 17-year-old, but she soldiered on. The following year, she again made the U.S. junior team and competed in Russia at the world championships. On her seventh attempt, she finally got to wear her coveted USA swim parka.

I bring all this up not to brag (well, maybe a little), but because there are parallels with what we’re experiencing right now in the self-storage industry. Though it may seem like an eternity since the coronavirus pandemic turned our lives upside down, it’s barely been more than three months. The fallout on the collective psyche is real. The mind can feel heavy, and it can be difficult to concentrate. Pivoting business processes and planning as circumstances and official guidelines change can be frustrating and tiring. And, yet, as we’ve seen through our coronavirus coverage, self-storage operators nationwide have been resilient and persevered.

Here at Inside Self-Storage, COVID-19 initially forced us to postpone our annual ISS World Expo from April to July, and then ultimately cancel and augment it into a virtual event. I’ve had a sneak peek at the platform we’ll be using, and the show promises to be excellent. We’re still finalizing all the details but look forward to announcing dates very soon. Despite the challenges this health crisis has triggered, we will persevere and deliver an event that meets the high standards for which we’re known.

The pandemic and economic crises have affected every corner of the industry. If you’re struggling with strategic decisions related to facility operation, financing, development or risk management, we’ve got several outstanding resources that can help put things in perspective. Key pieces include:

Industry Overviews

Facility Operation

Risk Management

Development and Finance

There are dozens more. Together, these resources offer expert insight to how operators and investors can continue to push forward in the face of adversity. Things don’t always work out as planned, and new challenges are certain to surface. Remaining pragmatic, flexible and adaptable are paramount to sustained success.

My daughter’s experience in persevering has helped her handle the last few months. It hasn’t been an entirely smooth ride, but I’ve been proud of how she’s coped with having her swimming career cut short without a final chance to compete for a national collegiate title, being moved off campus to complete her senior year online, and missing out on all the deserved ceremonies and traditions of graduation. As a topper, she now faces a gutted job market that had looked so promising just a few short weeks ago.

Though the days feel long and daunting, every morning brings a new dawn. I’ve been encouraged by the collective mindset that’s promulgated our industry. There’s comfort in commiserating and common purpose. Lean on your colleagues and coworkers. Dive into insightful industry resources. Together, we’ll continue to persevere.

About the Author(s)

Tony Jones

ISS Store Manager, Contributing Editor, Inside Self-Storage

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