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Leveraging Your Self-Storage Security Features to Create a Competitive Edge

As a self-storage operator, you should never take for granted your site’s security features. Instead, make the most of them! Learn to develop a “story” for tenants and leverage your level of protection as a competitive advantage.

The security features of your self-storage facility are precious and should never be taken for granted. Not only do they work to keep people and goods safe, they create an extra layer of enticement for customers to help build sales.

Even if your property can’t boast modern enhancements like Bluetooth-enabled gates and locks, remote video surveillance, and motion-sensor lighting, you can still leverage the protection you do have to create a competitive advantage. Here are some no- and low-cost ways your security assets can help your business thrive.

Use Straight Talk

Your prospective customers want to feel and be safe, and security is among the top reasons they will choose to rent at a particular self-storage facility, according to Norman Kotoch, owner of Security Self Storage in Solon, Ohio. No one likes to entertain the possibility of crime and disaster, but the best approach is to be direct. Assume your customers care about security and point out your features as part of your value proposition.

Self-storage consultant Jim DiNardo, who began his career as a facility manager, considers site security vital to marketing and sales, and recommends being upfront about it. “Some people don’t like to bring up security; it’s seen as a negative,” he says. “But you can’t hide from it. Make your security market itself from the way your lobby looks and especially by demonstrating it during the walk-through.”

Security monitors at Vault Stor & Lock in Eugene, Ore.jpg
Security monitors at Vault Stor & Lock in Eugene, Ore.

Show and Tell

When possible, show rather than tell. When touring the property with customers, point out your video cameras and lighting along with any other security features that separate you from competitors. A good way to determine your key differentiators is to shop your competition to see what they have and then seek ways to excel. Once you know what sets you apart, create a script with talking points and underscore security as part of your overall rental package.

Even before you offer a facility tour, your lobby should help tell your “security story.” Do you have one or several monitors on display in the office showing video footage in real time? This is a popular approach and makes a great impression on customers. Just remember, this is more for sales and marketing purposes than to reveal information about your security practices. You don’t want to broadcast your camera placements to potential thieves. Instead, loop the footage with positive messages about your gate control, lighting, locks and other facility highlights.

Know Your Most Overlooked Features

In today’s self-storage landscape, access gates and fencing are expected at a facility, as are coded keypads. Yet you likely have other basic security features you may not actively promote as such.

The first is a clean, well-lit property. This is a simple offering that will attract renters and broadcast to criminals that everything onsite is well-maintained, including your security system. (If they see a poorly maintained property, they’re likely to expect slipshod security.) It doesn’t cost much to have a clean facility, but it can impact the decision of potential renters. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to leverage security in a price-driven market.

The second is the property manager! Despite increases in self-storage automation, most facilities are still manned. The manager is one of a site’s primary security features. In fact, staff is the most important security asset and worthy of investment.

Focus on the Positive

I’ve focused on basic, low-cost security tactics in this article; however, in some markets, it makes sense to consider more advanced features. Upscale bells and whistles such as mobile-app access and smartlocks carry a “wow” factor that can really up your marketing and sales game.

In the meantime, develop a concise security story to convey to customers and get the most out of what you already have. Being proactive about security doesn’t cost a penny. You also don’t have to spend more on security than your competitors, but you need to support and promote your existing features, from your extra-clean facility to your facility manager to your range of components. Emphasizing the positive can always provide a competitive edge.

Rich Morahan writes frequently on security and marketing for the self-storage, information-destruction and petroleum markets. For more information, call 617.240.0372, e-mail rmwrite@comcast.net; visit www.rmorahan.com.

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