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Get Off the Hamster Wheel: Analyzing and Adjusting Your Self-Storage Business

Self-storage operators are super-busy these days, and that’s great news! An increase in business can also be taxing and you likely feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. Here’s how to take back control.

Amy Campbell

July 1, 2022

3 Min Read
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Overall, the self-storage industry is doing exceptionally well. Demand for the service is strong and most operators are experiencing high occupancy. Rental rates are on the rise for new and existing tenants. In addition, lending terms are still favorable.

Of course, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. We’re still enduring inflation, which means most people—including your customers—are looking for ways to save a buck here and there. And it certainly won’t be at the gas pump or grocery store! You’ve been fighting hard for your storage business since the pandemic began (and likely since you opened it) and you must continue to keep this mindset. You’re also likely being pulled in many directions. It seems there’s never enough time to just get it all done. This is especially true for owner-operators and those with a small staff. If you’re ready to get off the hamster wheel, consider the following.

Add more tech. The availability and types of technology for self-storage is simply astounding. The industry has come a long way in just a few short years, and operators and their customers are benefiting greatly. If you still don’t have a website, get one. If your customers can’t make a payment on it, make it happen. Yes, there will always be the “check in the mail” or “drop it off at the office” types, but the majority of your customers today and tomorrow want to make an online payment. Many also want to reserve a unit and complete the move-in process from their web-connected device, including a cell phone.

Technology doesn’t just benefit your customers. It can reduce some mundane and time-consuming processes. There are apps to help you get organized or share information with your team. Drones are becoming more affordable and can be used to keep an eye on your property. You can automate many tasks such as collection calls and emails. Just making more technology available to your tenants can reduce interactions because they can help themselves via kiosks and online rentals. Tech comes with a financial cost and there could be a learning curve or adjustments for you, your staff and tenants, but it’s an investment that’s 100% worth it.

Have a plan. You likely created a business plan once upon a time. Do you ever look at it? Have you updated it? Do you have a course of action at all for your storage company? Not only do you need some kind of trajectory, but you must also outline the steps on how you’ll get there. If you’d like to retire in five years, will you sell the property or pass it on to a family member? If your site is in need of renovations, how will you afford them. You should have specific targets and goals you’d like to achieve. Once you know this, you can break it down into parts and determine the steps to attaining them.

Outsource when you can. You might like to be in charge of everything but at what price? Are you completely overwhelmed? Are there some tasks that aren’t getting done? It’s common for a small business to suffer when one person is trying to do it all. Not to mention the toll it takes on the person wrangling everything. Technology can help, of course, but outsourcing can also be a huge game-changer. The options are endless—management, maintenance, marketing, call centers, human resources and even employee training. In a few weeks, the August issue of ISS Magazine will begin circulating. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information on all these topics plus more.

There are a zillion benefits to being a business owner. But it also comes with hefty responsibility. If you’re constantly wondering “where did the day go,” it’s time to take a step back and conduct an analysis. Both you and your storage company will benefit greatly.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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