One of the marvels of 2020 is how in stride the self-storage industry took a potential punch to the gut and kept pressing forward. In the midst of a global pandemic and economic meltdown, the business was deemed essential, and operators quickly altered how they conducted daily business and processed rentals. For many, it was a full mobilization online, adding new technology tools that not only provided customer conveniences, but helped ensure social distancing and site safety. During a year that’s had little to smile about, operators and vendors should be proud of how they’ve handled the health crisis.
ISS has worked hard to keep up with all the latest industry-related information concerning COVID-19 and its impact. Operators have shown a thirst to stay current and informed, including investing in industry education and professional development. As such, it’s time for our annual look at sales trends from the ISS Store to see which products resonated with you in 2020. Not surprisingly, this year has leaned heavily on operational concerns, development trends and investment activity. As you peruse the Top 10 bestsellers of 2020, the list will give you some insight as to the types of information and topics your colleagues and competitors are consuming.
1. ISS 2020 Guidebook Series
Though the annual Guidebook Series has steadily increased in popularity since we first introduced the article anthologies in 2011, this is the first year it’s taken the top spot. Available in digital and softcover formats, the Guidebooks offer critical information and tips on self-storage ownership, facility management, marketing, building, investing, technology, add-on products and services, and so much more.
This week, we released the 2021 Guidebook Series, which offers a bevy of management and ownership insight via the beefy Facility-Operation Guidebook as well as the very popular Building/Investing Guidebook, designed for those who want to establish or expand an operation. Both thematic Guidebooks are the largest we’ve released and include some pertinent COVID-related material. As always, the series package offers a nice discount vs. buying both books individually.
2. ISS Top-Operators Lists
Our annual fall release of the ISS Top-Operators Lists, which ranks by square-footage the top 100 facility owners and top 50 third-party management companies, continues to resonate with investors, developers, owners and suppliers. Similar to previous packages, the 2020 Top-Operators Lists offers data on square footage owned and/or managed, number of facilities, number of units, and operating names and locations. Presented in Excel format, the lists also include contact information for key personnel and insight to companies’ expansion plans. It also includes a PDF report examining movement within the rankings and a full presentation of the list in an easy-to-read format. For the fourth consecutive year, ISS presents separate rankings for owned and managed square feet to reduce the potential for square-footage redundancy that can occur when using only total square-footage figures for all companies in a single ranking.
3. Self-Storage Mastery DVD Series
Our Self-Storage Mastery DVD 5-Packs have proven quite popular. With a nod to the “greatest hits” concept, the DVDs are thematically packaged to offer some of the best content from recent ISS World Expos and bundled together at a discounted price. Each set offers five education sessions focused on a specific aspect to self-storage operation, ownership, investing or development. This year, we released packs covering Digital Marketing, Facility Design, Investing Strategies and Risk Management. Previous sets cover Career Development, Revenue Management, Sales and Service, and Staffing. Look for our third mastery series DVD release in early 2021!
4. Crush Your Competition
“Crush Your Competition: 101 Self Storage Marketing Tips for the Fastest Way to Huge Profits,” written by civil engineer and self-storage owner Marc Goodin, has remained our bestselling book title for several years running. Available in a softcover version as well as PDF format, the book explains how to optimize simple marketing tactics and ideas with minimal cost for maximum earnings. It contains tools for new startups that have more energy than money and was also written for established businesses looking for fresh ideas.
5. Self-Storage Maintenance Package: Monthly Task Calendars and Guide
Another annual release, the Self-Storage Maintenance Package is designed specifically for facility managers and includes detailed, customizable monthly calendars outlining tasks by day, week and season, with items color-coded based on frequency. Each page also features a handy daily checklist. Now available, the 2021 package also includes a 91-page digital book of expert maintenance advice, with several new articles added this year.
Package contents are available through a downloadable zip file, which includes 12 individual calendars in PDF and Microsoft Word formats. The customizable Word templates allow users to accommodate their particular schedule and needs. A no-fuss, PDF calendar is also included for those who wish to print the entire year without having to access individual files.
6. Creating Wealth Through Self-Storage
“Creating Wealth Through Self-Storage” is another book in our library that continues to sell extremely well. Written by self-storage investor and owner Mark Helm, the book is available in a softcover version and downloadable PDF, and provides tips on how to find desirable self-storage properties, analyze risk and compete against well-funded investors. The book works as a companion to Storage World Analyzer, a cloud-based, financial-analysis software designed by Helm to help self-storage operators and investors evaluate potential real estate acquisitions or development projects. The book includes information on how Helm uses the Analyzer software to enhance his buying analyses.
7. 2020 ISS Education Video
When COVID-19 forced the cancellation of this year’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo, the challenge became how to maintain the spirit of the event and deliver quality industry education despite not being able to convene in person. Leaning heavily on our original education plan for the expo, we recorded 42 video webinars, 12 of which were included as part of the 2020 ISS Virtual Event in September. Those dozen are available for purchase in DVD and on-demand video format. The seminar lineup covers a host of timely and relevant topics, with industry experts tackling everything from weathering the recession to exploring the virtual-management model. In addition to individual sessions, four DVD discount packages are available including a complete set of the seminars and themed packages covering Operations and Leadership, Building and Investing, and Customer Experience and Innovation.
In addition, we’ve rolled out the other 30 education sessions we recorded in DVD and on-demand video as part of an ISS Education Video 2020 release. These seminars cover the full gamut of self-storage building, investing, operations, ownership, customer experience and technology.
8. The Investors Guide to Growing Wealth in Self Storage
This fall, we were proud to release a new book written by AJ Osborne, co-founder of Bitterroot Holdings/Keylock Storage. “The Investors Guide to Growing Wealth in Self Storage: The Step-By-Step Playbook for Turning a Real Estate Asset Into a Thriving Self Storage Business” teaches readers how to identify investment opportunities, allocate capital, and leverage management expertise to turn a mom-and-pop asset into an income-producing venture.
Osborne co-founded Bitterroot/Keylock in 2012 and helped build a $100 million portfolio with 12 properties across the Northwest. Topics covered in the book include why self-storage is an attractive investment, valuation and finding deals, financing, revitalizing assets, reducing risk and more.
The author has an inspiring story. He was struck by sudden paralysis and placed on life support two years ago due to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks his nerves. He remains partially paralyzed today but has maintained financial stability thanks to his investment smarts.
9. What’s It Worth?
Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or simply maintain your self-storage property, understanding the factors that determine real estate and business value is an important part of your investment. In “What's It Worth? Making, Managing, and Measuring Value: Self-Storage Facility,” authors Michelle Gigowski and Timothy Moffit apply valuation theory to help owners and investors understand how value within the asset class can be made, managed and measured.
The authors have experience as educators, analysts, appraisers and turnaround consultants, which enables them to help readers connect the dots between valuation theory and practice. Topics covered in the book include facility financial statements, external and internal value drivers and destroyers, valuation creation and facility-turnaround tips, 10 reasons to buy self-storage, valuation approaches and models, and more.
10. Self-Storage Key of Knowledge: The Complete Facility-Operation Kit
Whether you’re a self-storage owner or manager, your understanding of the myriad aspects connected to facility operation has a direct correlation to the success and sustainability of the business. To help owners and managers improve facility operation, Bob Copper, owner of consulting firm Self Storage 101, created three USB Keys of Knowledge, which are chock full of video presentations, articles, workbooks and PowerPoint presentations.
The bestselling of the three packages is The Complete Facility-Operation Kit, which contains a comprehensive set of written and recorded training materials on self-storage auditing, collections, customer service, marketing, revenue management, sales and more. This product offers the best value of the three drives and contains almost all the material on the Manager-Training and Ownership kits, in addition to several operational resources. Some content is duplicated between the three offerings. To see a detailed breakout of key contents and choose the best fit for your individual needs, please view this side-by-side comparison chart.
As always, we’re constantly looking to develop new educational products 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.
It's been a challenging year to say the least, but tools and resources are plentiful to help operators steady their businesses and navigate the uncertain path ahead. For all of us at ISS, here’s best wishes for Happy Holidays and a healthy, prosperous 2021.