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Advantage Storage Opens Craig Ranch Facility in Texas

McKinney, Texas-based self-storage developer Advantage Storage opened a new facility in Craig Ranch, an upscale McKinney neighborhood. The multi-story facility has 75,000 rentable square feet and 600 units and offers climate control. To blend in with the local area, the buildings are primarily stone with stucco and standing-seam metal-roof accents. Other features include resident management, security gates and video surveillance.

The Craig Ranch site is Advantage’s 19th self-storage facility, bringing the company’s total portfolio to more than 10,000 storage units and 1.35 million rentable square feet.
 
Source: Collin County Business Press, Advantage Self Storage opens at Craig Ranch

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ISS Blog

Create a Memorable Direct-Mail Campaign

While leafing through my local Pennysaver last night, I came across a glossy postcard wedged between the pages. It was for a local dentist. The card included a picture of the dentist and his family (See? I’m family man. Trust me with your teeth.), some bullet points about the services they offer and a small map with noted landmarks. Overall, it was nicely done, and caught my attention.

Compare that direct-mail piece with the shabby one I blogged about last week. The marketing piece for Wal-Mart’s grand opening, something I was on the lookout for, didn’t impress me. It was a one-page flier with little information. While I understand Wal-Mart likely doesn’t have to work as hard to attract customers as the dentist does, it was a poor effort nonetheless.

When thinking about direct-mail campaigns, there is more to consider than just the cost. You really only have a few seconds to entice these customers with your flier, coupon or postcard, so what you do in those few moments need to count.

For some tips on creating an effective direct-mail campaign, check out this article from the ISS archives. You can also get tips from fellow storage operators on the Self-Storage Talk forum. ISS columnist and Expo speaker Brad North recently posted a thread about the topic. Brad will also tackle the subject in the upcoming January issue.

If a direct-mail campaign is on your radar for 2010, take the time to do it right. You really only have seconds to grab your target customer's attention. Would you rather you marketing piece end up on the fridge—or in the trash?
 

Eco-Minded Thornwood Self Storage Celebrates Opening

Thornwood Self Storage Center, a new facility committed to green principles, recently celebrated its grand opening in Thornwood, N.Y. The 48,000-square-foot facility has eco-friendly features including rooftop solar panels and a motion-sensor lighting system.

Nearly 100 people from the community turned out for the celebration, which included organic foods and wines, tours of the facility and a green ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Co-owners Dan Kasman and Michael Gyory’s long-term initiative was to educate the community about eco-friendly practices, support local, like-minded organizations and partner with environmental organizations in development.

Gyory's father built the structure in 1960s originally as a warehouse. Most recently, the building operated as a health club. During the building’s conversion to self-storage, 95 percent of the structure was reused and construction debris was recycled and reclaimed.

The three-story facility offers 360 climate-controlled units, onsite power backup, recyclable and biodegradable packing materials and uses only environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Kasman and Gyory engaged the services of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and O'Dea, Lynch, Abbattista Consulting Engineers to facilitate the energy-efficient development of the building.  

The project was funded with a $4.3 million construction loan from Wells-Fargo Bank NA.  Kasman and Gyory also built and operated Katonah Self Storage Center, which they sold in 2005.

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Luxury Self-Storage Facility Opens in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lock Up self-storage will open in St. Petersburg, Fla., this month with features that are new or rare in the Tampa Bay area’s mini-warehouse community. Highlights of the 510-unit facility include carpeting throughout (including the storage units), an enclosed, air-conditioned loading bay, a climate-controlled wine cellar and 30 monitored security cameras. Staff will accept and secure UPS and Fed Ex deliveries on behalf of tenants.
 
The facility, converted from a former phone-book printing plant, is in an area with many luxury condominiums. If demand supports it, the building’s second floor will be outfitted with additional storage units.
 
Lock Up was built by BRD Development LLC, a family-owned Chicago company that owns 29 self-storage facilities, and backed by a partnership with a pension fund. BRD is scouting for additional storage sites on Florida's West Coast.
 
Source: St. Petersburg Times, High-end storage facility to open in downtown St. Petersburg

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Extra Space Storage Amends Terms With Harrison Street, Announces Financing

Extra Space Storage Inc. has amended the terms of its previously announced joint venture with an affiliate of Harrison Street Real Estate Capital LLC (HSRE). Under the amended terms, HSRE will contribute approximately $15 million in cash to the joint venture in return for a 50 percent ownership interest. Extra Space will contribute 19 wholly owned properties and receive approximately $15 million in cash and a 50 percent ownership interest.
 
The joint venture will assume approximately $101 million of debt, secured by the properties, which are in California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Extra Space will continue to operate the facilities.
 
The transaction is subject to customary conditions and the debt assumption, and is anticipated to close by the end of the fourth quarter.
 
In separate news, Extra Space has obtained $114.1 million of financing in the fourth quarter. The financing consists of four loans secured by 20 operating properties and totaling $93.7 million as well as three construction loans totaling $20.4 million. The company has obtained approximately $277.7 million in financing in 2009.

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Emergency Lighting and Exit Signs Product Catalog

LightGuard released a full-color product catalog detailing the company's extensive line of emergency lighting and exit signs. It also features the newest architectural white LED solid-state luminaires that serve as security and emergency lighting (Unity, Grafix and Illusion III).

Divided into 10 sections, the catalog includes order information  for each product. The catalog has information about vintage signage, the Wet-Lok Series of industrial emergency lighting, damp location listed and cold weather-rated fluorescent emergency ballasts and more. 

 

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The Pros and Cons of Third-Party Self-Storage Management

If you’re a self-storage owner considering a third-party management company, you should do your homework before handing over the keys to your valuable investment. When researching potential candidates:

  • Compare multiple companies
  • Understand how each management company works and makes its money
  • Talk to current and past owners
  • Get detailed information about what services are provided and all fees
  • Weigh the pros and cons

There are many advantages to hiring a third-party management company. If you’re considering the switch, review the benefits these companies can offer.

Volume savings. One of the main advantages of using an experienced management company is your ability to leverage the company’s size. Because management companies allocate costs over multiple facilities, they help you reduce expenses. The cost-savings will vary depending on the size of the company and the number of facilities it manages. The more sites it has, the more savings that can be realized on items such as Yellow Pages ads, facility maintenance, advertising campaigns, Internet marketing and property insurance.

Branding. Most management companies will allow you to maintain your existing brand, so you don’t have to change signage and other branded items. However, you may also lose out on Internet opportunities, such as free listings on major search engines.

Shared amenities. Many larger management companies offer amenities that you, as an independent operator, could not provide, such as a call center.

Revenue management. Revenue management is much more complex than looking at your competitors’ prices and matching their rates and discounts. It’s imperative that you have a strategy to push rates higher while minimizing move-outs. While this can be a daunting task for an independent owner, a management company can help you manage and maximize revenue. Just be sure to understand the revenue-management philosophy of the companies you’re comparing, and review their quantitative results.

Human resources. The challenge of finding and keeping staff can be onerous and expensive. A management company will often take care of all hiring and firing, background checks and references, and training.

In-house legal counsel. Large management companies will also have experienced in-house legal counsel to review leases, keep up on industry law, and be available if a lawsuit occurs.

IT support. Small technical problems with computers, software, telephones or Internet service can cause huge headaches for most owners, wasting valuable time and opportunities. Third-party management companies frequently provide IT support services to all their properties at a significant cost-savings.

The Cons

Although there are many advantages to hiring a third-party management company, there are also disadvantages all owners should take into consideration before signing a contract.

Limited experience. The owners of most management companies have worked in the storage industry for a notable amount of time, but their experience is may be limited to a particular market. Management companies with broad experience are more likely to generate success in any market.

Limited accessibility. Most management companies operate within a set geographical area. If your facility is outside this area or far from the company’s other managed facilities, it may get overlooked. Also, the additional costs related to travel may not be included in the management fee. Cost-savings (and competitive advantage) from shared local marketing may also be less if a property is in a remote location compared to other sites managed by the same company. Regardless of the size and location of the management company, visit the office and meet the staff before making a decision.

Required vendors. Some management companies get discounts from their vendors and will require owners use these vendors. This can present a conflict if the owner has established vendor relationships. Carefully evaluate all vendors and contract terms presented by the management company.

Communication. Lack of communication between the facility owner and management company can result in misunderstandings relating to costs, expectations and performance. These problems can be prevented through open communication and due diligence by the facility owner.

As the self-storage industry evolves, we will continue to see the formation of many third-party management companies. Although there are many pros and cons to consider in the decision-making process, an owner can often exceed his own expectations by hiring the right partner.

Noah Springer handles the management of all strategic partnerships for Extra Space Storage. In 2007, he helped create the Extra Space Storage Joint Venture Program, in which Extra Space joined forces with local developers to develop self-storage facilities across the United States. To reach him, call 801.365.4628; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.extraspace.com.

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