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Thoughts From the Road 5082

April 1, 2000

4 Min Read
Thoughts From the Road

Thoughts From the Road

By Jim Chiswell

This month'scolumn provides me with a very unique opportunity: a chance to talk about a majorself-storage meeting coming to Buffalo, N.Y., next month. No, I'm not pulling your leg. InsideSelf-Storage is bringing its spring expo to the downtown Hyatt Hotel during May 11thand 12th. Yes, the snow will be melted by then and, in fact, May is a wonderful time ofyear to be in Buffalo. Let me take a moment to give you an overview of the trade fair andurge everyone to consider adding this event to his spring travel schedule.

The team at Virgo Publishing has done a great job in putting together an outstandingroster of speakers. The trade fair will feature some of the industry's leading suppliersfrom across the United States, who will be available for one-on-one discussions during theshow. I am especially pleased that the New York Self Storage Association (NYSSA) will beholding an open forum in conjunction with the expo on that Friday.

Ken Myszka, president of Sovran Self Storage, and David Rogers, the company's chieffinancial officer, will give a keynote presentation, with a look at our industry fromtheir perspective as members of a public company. They will also share their vision forthe direction of the industry both domestically and internationally.

The educational workshops will feature a full spectrum of topics for both theself-storage beginner and seasoned veteran. I will be presenting a development-tracksession, "From Feasibility to Grand Opening," and will be joined by many of theconstruction veterans I have worked with around the country. Mark Deion from Rhode Islandwill be speaking about "Using the Internet to Revolutionize Your FacilityMarketing," and a panel of self-storage operators will join him in providingpractical advice on what is working for them. Ken Piken, who served as general counsel forthe NYSSA while I was president, will discuss "Where We've Been and Where We'reGoing" from a legal perspective. Ken has been instrumental in several key court casesinvolving self-storage that you are going to want to hear about first-hand.

The other sessions cover a wide range of issues, such as management and security,building conversions, innovative marketing strategies, financing, property-tax issues andfacility insurance. In addition to the special open forum sponsored by NYSSA, sessionswill be conducted with exclusive emphasis on Canadian self-storage topics. This willprovide a chance to discuss areas of specific concern and interest to our fellow ownersand operators from Canada, or to those interested in building in there.

Of course, the Buffalo expo won't be all work and no play--an evening cocktailreception is being planned and a number of other options will be available to all whoattend. I look forward to welcoming everyone to my home town.

Welcome Back, Michael

Several years ago, Coopers and Lybrand acquired Michael Donohue's company, whichspecialized in dealing with real-estate taxes for the self-storage industry. Michaelcalled me the other day to let me know that, after extensive negotiations, he hadreacquired ownership of his company and is returning to the ranks of entrepreneurship. Hehas continued to do an outstanding job for his clients while a part of the Coopers andLybrand team, but there is nothing quite like being able to call your own shots. I want towish Michael continued success with Property Tax Advisors, because if he is successful, itmeans an owner's tax assessment has been reduced. Our entire industry benefits directlyand indirectly from the work Michael has done in the past--and the work I know he will doin the future--with tax assessors across the country. If you are facing a property-taxproblem, you can reach Michael at (703)518-4425.

Traffic-Study Results

Last year, I asked owners and managers to supply me with some basic information abouttheir facilities and the number of vehicles per week/month that came through their gates.I have completed phase one of this traffic research and have already sent out a memo toeveryone who participated.

The results are very much in line with what our industry has been telling planning andzoning boards around the country: Self-storage develops very minimal traffic for its totalsquare footage. The results of the research data showed average cars per day, per 100units, to be just 6.54 vehicles. For example, if your project is 60,000 square feet andhas 550 units, you could expect to see 36 cars per day once your project has achieved astabilized occupancy.

I realize this average figure may not reflect what you experience. I welcome additionalinput to this ongoing research project, on an anonymous basis. Please send me your totalsquare footage, total units, percentage of unit occupancy and the total one-way vehiclecount into your facility on either a weekly or monthly basis. The more facilities thatparticipate in this research, the more significant the results become. I thank you inadvance for the additional data.

Jim Chiswell is the president of Chiswell & Associates of Williamsville, N.Y.Since 1990, his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence andcustomized manager training for the self-storage industry. In addition to contributingregularly to Inside Self-Storage, Mr. Chiswell is a frequent speaker at InsideSelf-Storage Expos. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]; phone (716) 634-2428; www.Jimdot.com.

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