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Pulling Ahead: My 3-Pronged Approach to Outpacing New Self-Storage Competition

If a new self-storage facility has moved into your neighborhood, you may be worried about how it’ll affect your own business. Rather than panic, consider the three-pronged approach this owner is taking to ensure his operation pulls ahead.

Tim Davis

June 16, 2023

4 Min Read
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There’s a new self-storage facility open now, right across the street from mine. There’s another two miles way and a third just across town. One of them is offering discounts, and they all look fresh and new. Will I lose potential customers? Do I need to reduce rates? Will my current tenants leave?

These are the questions I’m thinking about this summer, but I also have a plan. I’m using a three-pronged approach to ensure my business stays ahead of the competition. I’ll share it with you below.

Prong 1: Online Presence

I firmly believe Google Search results are the main driver of our self-storage business, so this is where I focus. Since spring and early summer are the busiest times for rentals, I increased my Google AdWords buying to ensure my business remains at the top of any searches, both paid and organic. Our website usually appears in the top three organic searches, but during the busy months, I like to increase our presence in the paid ad section.

This year, I doubled my AdWords monthly buy from $200 to $400 for May through July. Since this is the only “paid” advertising I do, it’s a good value. Your buy could be very different depending on the size of the town or city you’re in and how many hits your website gets off search engines.

We have a great self-storage website, but since it’s hosted and designed by the same software-management company as many of my competitors, I’ve been wondering how to differentiate it from the others that look just like it. Obviously, my photos are different, but the structure of the site and much of the language is very similar.

To combat this, I’ve hired a local marketing firm to monitor the site, inform me of its performance and recommend changes if needed. They’re looking at the results of the analytics to see how many visits, calls and conversions I’m getting, and giving me feedback on what I can change or rewrite to increase visibility.

Lastly, for online exposure, I’m adding new content to my Facebook page. I’m not a good social media guy, but I’m planning to post new photos and at least write something once a week to show the internet that I’m engaged.

Prong 2: Facility Presentation

The next part of my approach is the physical presentation of my self-storage property. With three new facilities nearby, I need to look brand new, too!

To begin, I’m implementing the biggest cleaning in years. All driveways and parking areas are getting cracks sealed and asphalt recoated, then all doors are getting pressure-washed and latches replaced where needed. We already manage weeds very effectively, have added LED lighting, and keep our sign on the highway well-lit and clean.

Last year, we added bright-yellow bollard covers on the corners of all buildings. This year we’re installing massive decals to the ends of our buildings welcoming people to our community. The place is going to look brand new!

Prong 3: Local Marketing

The final part of my plan is a continued focus on supporting our community nonprofits. I do this local marketing for two reasons. Mainly, I believe in them and what they provide to our residents in need. I support shelters for moms and kids, the homeless, and pets. I support wildlife-conservation and open-space enhancement groups, community food banks, community theater and the arts. I support any local kid’s sports teams that asks.

I also want to offset the perception that storage facilities only benefit their owners. So, as well as making one-time or monthly donations in a budgeted manner, I’ll support, attend and donate to many annual fundraising galas. This puts our name in front of several hundred attendees, and I plan to talk to as many as I can while I’m there. Often, my donation of three months of storage will directly get me a new customer, but mainly these activities demonstrate that self-storage facilities are active community members and should be viewed in a positive light.

With new self-storage competition popping up everywhere, I have the advantage of being years ahead in my business knowledge. I’m very focused on dialing in all the little things that’ll keep me ahead of the game for years to come. After all, I only need to remain at 95% occupancy, not worry about how to get there.

Tim Davis is owner, manager, handyman and janitor of American Storage in Helena, Montana. The company operates three facilities in the area that offer more than 1,050 units.

About the Author(s)

Tim Davis

Owner, American Storage

Tim Davis is owner, manager, handyman and janitor of American Storage in Helena, Montana. The company operates three facilities in the area that offer more than 1,050 units. For more information, visit www.americanstoragemt.com.

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