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Inside Self-Storage Magazine: Storage Pros

May 1, 2006

5 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine: Storage Pros

Storage Pros, West Seneca, N.Y.

When the temperature is below freezing, snow is 3 feet deep and the wind chill is 10 F, think of the luxury of driving into a toasty storage building to load or unload goods. Thats the glory of renting units at Storage Pros in West Seneca, N.Y. This is the next-generation storage facility, says Timothy Wandtke, director of operations and development for Storage Pros and designer of the site.

Owned by Sarasota, Fla.-based Benderson Development Co. Inc., Storage Pros operates nine facilities in New York and two in Florida. The West Seneca site is one of four offering drive-thru access. Though not the first to provide this amenity, Storage Pro is certainly the most luxurious.

The single-story location was designed with a false second floor that presents an attractive two-story facade to increase curb presence. The office, floored in Italian tile, features a showroom with a full line of packing supplies. Large flat-screen monitors display security images, and automatic sliding glass doors glass lead into the climate-controlled section. Adding a touch of color, canvas banners exhibit seasonal messages throughout the property.

The $2.2 million facility has a mix of 387 conventional and climate-controlled units and 65 RV, car and boat spaces. A planned third phase will add another 185 climate-controlled units. The store, which accepts deliveries for its customers, is planning to add post office boxes, Fed-Ex shipping, faxing and copying, and moving truck services.

Since its January opening, Phase II is performing above projection, Wandtke says. Total occupancy for the site is 47 percent. Prices for conventional units range from $32 a month for a 5-by-5 to $199 for a 10-by-40. Boat and RV storage averages $80 per month. Climate-control prices are $52 a month for a 5-by-5 to $230 a month for a 10-by-40. These units feature wall-to-wall carpeting, automatic lights and individual alarms.

Teamwork for Success

The facility features a drive-thru and climate control.

The team of 20 dedicated, hardworking employees is at the heart of Storage Pros success. We could build the best site the world has ever seen but its the management team that makes a facility, Wandtke says. Each store has a full-time manager and part-time relief manager.

Staff members receive individual training from a regional manager overseen by Wandtke. Sites are visited weekly by senior management. Periodically, managers are given a full site review in which issues are identified and corrected. This process also establishes short-term goals for improvement, he says. In addition, the company holds regular meetings and six to seven training sessions per year. We have high employee retention, he says. Some have been with us as long as 14 years.

Security Draws Customers

Wandtke doesnt believe in using live-in management. Managers need a quality of life just like the rest of us, he says. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; however, customers have 24/7 admittance through the facilitys access-control system provided by Digitech International Inc.

A digital-video security system records continuously and features real-time viewing via the Internet. A cyber-dome camera and 18 full-color cameras are strategically positioned throughout the facility. Two 20-inch LCD high-definition monitors and one 42-inch high-definition plasma TV are mounted directly behind the managers counter in the office. Management software monitors coded entrance gates, doors into the climate-controlled building and individual units.

Reservations and Retention

Climate-controlled units may be accessed through the lobby.

Although Storage Pros uses a combination of its website, Yellow Pages and XPS Services reservation center, the company staff is credited with closing 96 percent of all visits, Wandtke says. During the initial telephone call, an on-site consultant will determine the customers needs and recommend one or two unit sizes. A brochure about the facility is mailed to every prospect. Those who come to the facility are taken on a tour to view security features and amenities. Afterward, the prospective tenant can relax in the office with coffee and cookies while the manager completes a rental agreement, Wandtke says. Upselling the climate-control feature is almost a natural since the tenant can view those units though the sliding doors in the office.

Having a call center service means calls are never missed, he adds. Calls not answered within four minutes roll over to XPS. If a prospective customer calls a Storage Pros location but wants a different one, staff takes the information and ensures the desired facility return the call within 15 minutes, Wandtke says.

A ZIP code analysis is used to identify target customers. In addition to single and multi-family homes, we are targeting commercial and retail markets, Wandtke says. We can show businesses how much they could save by using our storage rather than their own space for inventory.

Elements for Success

The front desk.

The core of Storage Pros mission statement is to provide superior people, products and service, Wandtke says. We do that with the best trained professionals and clean, safe, well-maintained storage at an affordable price, he says. Expansion is also on the horizon. The company plans to add sites at a rate that the market and their principles will allow.

Storage Pros is a member of the New York Self Storage Association and several chambers of commerce. The stores participate in charities such as Little League, Variety Club and Toys for Tots. And not to overlook the four-legged in need, Wandtke is considering a feline adoption center for each site. Stores will keep a cat in comfort and safety until the animal goes home with a new family, he says.

Wandtke recognizes that to stay competitive, the storage industry will have to continue to add amenities, services and security. Managers will have to be better trained to compete in their prospective markets, he says. Feasibility studies for new locations must be detailed, and site visibility and curb appeal will be extremely important. Finally, facility designs should maximize space and dollars spent. 

For more information, visit www.storageprosonline.com.  

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