Thoughts From the Road 5270

May 1, 2001

5 Min Read
Thoughts From the Road

Thoughts From the Road

By Jim Chiswell

Spring Clean-Up and Dress-Up Time

Springis upon us, and with it comes the opportunity to catch some extra attention foryour facility. If you are in the Northeast, it's time to remove all signs of thewinter that is now behind us. The few pieces of trash you could not get tobecause of snow piles or because the ground was too soft should get toppriority. Filling in the tire marks and reseeding the grass will give you ajump-start on the remainder of the year.

It is also the time to plant spring flowers. I have met many managers whowould welcome the chance to dress up the front of their property if only theyhad the budget and authority to get the job done. In many cases, I would ratherchallenge my managers to coordinate the spring plantings than turn the job overto a contractor. The majority of facilities across America are being managed bypeople who live on site. Even if owners pay those managers what they would pay alandscaper, I believe they would get a better end result.

I would love to share photos of facilities where the owners or managers havedone the landscaping. If you would like to share your results, please send me aphoto to the address at the end of this column. Write "SpringDress-Up" on the envelope, and be sure to include details about yourfacility along with your name and contact information. I will select two photosto publish in an upcoming column.

Self-Storage in the Media

All at once, I seem to be seeing self-storage facilities featured in varioustypes of media. Recent motion pictures have featured scenes set at facilities.They usually don't present us in the best light but, then again, it's hard toimagine a self-storage location as the backdrop of a love story! An MSNBC newsstory included an entire interview with one subject as she stood at herself-storage unit. The setting was unmistakable as others helped to unload herrental truck into her 10-by-20 unit. Even radio and TV shrink Dr. Laura hasdiscussed the use of self-storage.

During one of my last trips, I was searching the radio dial in my rental carfor some "oldies" music. I caught the end of Dr. Laura's response to awoman who was at loose ends over having to store all of her 35-year-olddaughter's stuff. Dr. Laura told her she had a very simple solution: Get out theYellow Pages and turn to the section for storage. She recommended the woman pickout the self-storage location closest to her daughter's apartment and tell herdaughter to move her stuff there. It was one of the best responses I have heardfrom Dr. Laura.

The increased visibility of our industry can be a double-edged sword.Publicity and news items about self-storage are generally negative. Usually,they either highlight a tragic occurrence or someone who has been caught doingor storing something illegally at a facility. As an industry, we should go onthe offensive across the country. There are so many other positive stories aboutour grand openings, or how we help people in trouble, or how our facilities havehelped new businesses get started, or how a facility has assisted a localcharity.

I challenge every owner to come up with a positive story about his facilitythat can be sent as a press release to a local paper or business journal. Aslong as our industry is going to be seen regularly in the media, we should fightto get our share of positive press. There are literally hundreds of local weeklyand business-oriented journals that could be inundated with press releases ifeven just a few of the people who read this column would accept my challenge.When your story runs, please send me a copy of the article.

Who Put the Butts Out? (Follow-Up)

I could not resist writing a follow-up to the item about cigarette butts inmy last column. If Maine State Legislator Joseph Brooks gets his way, buttscould become a new profit center for facility owners in that state. It seemsBrooks has introduced the first national cigarette-butt-deposit legislation.Designed to mirror the state's bottle-deposit legislation, the Brooks proposalwould place a 5-cent deposit on every cigarette butt. Simply returning your usedbutts to a retailer would allow you to claim the deposit.

If this proposed legislation is enacted into law, every chain smoker in NewEngland will be visiting Maine on a regular basis. It is too bad they are stillnot producing the Seinfeld television show. I could write that episode myself.But until the "Butt Bill" has been signed into law in each of ourstates, I guess we'll just have to keep picking up the butts ourselves to keepour facilities and grounds clean.

Return to Biloxi

I am very excited the ISS Trade Fair is returning to the Beau Rivage Resortand Casino, Biloxi, Miss., in June. And, no, not just to visit the money I leftthere last time! Our last trip to Biloxi was an outstanding opportunity to meetin a relaxing environment with people considering getting into the business, aswell as with current owners to talk about their issues. If you have not alreadymade plans to attend, visit the ISS website at www.insideselfstorage.comto get all the details. I look forward to seeing you there.

Jim Chiswell is the president of Chiswell & Associates. Since 1990,his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence, experttestimony and customized manager training for the self-storage industry. Inaddition to contributing regularly to Inside Self-Storage, Mr. Chiswellis a frequent speaker at Inside Self-Storage expos and various associationmeetings. He can be reached via mail at Chiswell & Associates, 1260 N.Forest Road #2A, Williamsville, NY 14221; e-mail [email protected];call 716.634.2428;

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