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Articles from 2014 In October


4 Reasons to Add Truck-Rental Services to Your Self-Storage Business

Are you thinking about offering rental trucks at your self-storage facility? Actually, the real question is: Why don’t you have a rental truck yet?

After retail sales, truck rental is one of the top reciprocal businesses for a self-storage facility. Renters generally need a truck to move their stuff into a unit. Why not be the one to provide this service? It not only benefits your customers, it increases your visibility, occupancy, revenue and competitive edge.

 

Visibility

For every mile a “wrapped” rental truck drives through the streets, it receives 600 visual impressions. It’s a moving billboard for your self-storage facility! Your business will be branded throughout the community every time renters borrow it. When parked at your location, it also doubles as additional signage. The truck is at eye level, so it’s easier for those who drive by to read and notice.

Public image is paramount to business success. To be considered a community ambassador, it’s essential that your storage facility be involved in local events. A truck is a unique way to provide goodwill. For example, it can be loaned to charities to help them with their fundraisers, such as holiday drives.

 

Occupancy

A rental truck can also be a huge lead generator. People who may not have otherwise visited your facility might do so simply because they need a truck. Your walk-in traffic will increase along with your phone leads. When I managed a storage facility, I would get calls from my customers’ neighbors asking me about the truck. I would offer a truck rental for free with each move-in, which directly attributed to my occupancy rates.

Trucks can also be your best sales-closing tool. Even your greenest manager can make a deal by offering a free truck rental with a new lease. Your customers will only need to visit you instead of an additional truck-rental location. You can’t put a price on convenience!

 

Revenue

A common objection I hear from facility operators is, “I’m in the storage-rental business, not the truck-rental business.” This is true, but you’ll rent more units when you offer a truck rental with move-in. Free use of your facility’s rental truck is a great perk and can be used instead of rental discounts. Your truck can be considered a marketing expense rather than giving away tangible income. This will increase your facility value, since your rent roll will be higher.

A rental truck is an additional profit center. You can expect to bring in more income via mileage charges, fuel charges, charges for damage waivers, and the rental of hand trucks and furniture blankets. The sky’s the limit! With some programs, the entire rental commissions are yours to keep. With one-way programs, you can become a dealer and benefit from commission programs. Whichever route you choose, you’ll see an increase in revenue.

Offering movers with your truck is also a great revenue source. Many people lack the means to move themselves and have a difficult time finding movers they trust. Hiring a few college students or part-time movers to help your customers can add value to your service offerings.

 

Competitive Edge

With truck rentals becoming a staple in the self-storage industry, your competitor may already be offering a program. Don’t lose out! Thousands of facilities vie for business daily. Truck rentals can make you more competitive. Not only will you have a moving billboard driving by your competitors’ sites, you’ll have a word-of-mouth advantage while building rapport with tenants.

Solving a problem is one of the things every salesperson strives to accomplish. Truck rentals solve the customer’s need for convenience. Moving is never fun, but free use of your truck gives him a pleasurable experience, and he’ll tell his friends, family and neighbors for years to come. He’ll have trust and confidence in your business. Your place is now a one-stop-shop that saves customers money—home of the free rental truck!

 

Additional Benefits

Generally, storage owners tend to be entrepreneurs and may have additional businesses. The truck can be used for these additional ventures to generate more exposure. For example, one self-storage operator added his storage-facility logo to his truck but also used the vehicle for his sundries shop. A truck is also great to have on hand for maintenance and clearing out units.

If you’re considering the addition of a rental truck to your storage business, don’t hesitate to contact a specialist. He can guide you into the right program for your business and tell you which insurance and licenses you may need to obtain.

Truck rentals offer you four strong advantages: visibility, higher occupancy rates, increased revenue and a competitive edge. Trucks are only pennies per visual impression; there aren’t many marketing tools with such a return on investment!

CJ Steen has been with On The Move Inc. officially for seven years as marketing director, but unofficially for 23 years as the founder’s granddaughter. She’s been working in the self-storage industry for 14 years. Her first job was as a facility relief manager. She has a bachelor’s degree from in marketing from Hawaii Pacific University and an MBA from Texas Woman’s University. For more information, call 800.645.9949; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.

Moove In Self Storage Buys Centerville Self Storage in Lancaster, PA

Moove In Self Storage, which operators 12 facilities in Pennsylvania, has acquired Centerville Self Storage in Lancaster, Pa. The company now has seven locations in Lancaster County.

“Centerville Self Storage was a key acquisition for us,” said John H. Gilliland, president and CEO for Moove In Self Storage. Due to demand, the company was in the process of constructing an additional single-story building at its facility at 220 Centerville Road when Centerville Self Storage became available to purchase.

“Adding 400 drive-up units to our inventory through an acquisition will help us better serve the current demand in the market,” Gilliland said.

Moove In Self Storage plans to invest about $350,000 in property upgrades, including adding new insulated roofs, repair and replacement of the unit doors, a keypad-operated gate, and pavement repairs. The company has already invested $850,000 to upgrade the other property at 220 Centerville Road. The renovations included a new office, additional temperature-controlled units, security fencing and gates, landscaping, and paving upgrades.

Once the renovations are complete at both properties, the locations will offer 807 units and 65 exterior parking spaces between them. They will be managed from one rental office at the 220 Centerville Road facility by an onsite property manager.

Moove In Self Storage operates facilities in Huntingdon, Lancaster and York counties. In addition to self-storage, the properties also offer locks, boxes, and moving and packing supplies as well as Penske truck rentals.

Moove-In-Self-Storage-Lancaster-Pa***

Minivan Crashes into SmartStop Self Storage Facility in Jersey City, NJ

A minivan on Wednesday crashed into a SmartStop Self Storage facility in Jersey City, N.J. News photos of the incident indicate the vehicle struck the corner of the facility at 69 Mallory Ave., breaking through a wall of what may have been the rental office. About half the van made it inside the building, based on images.

Emergency responders from the Jersey City police and fire departments were at the scene, according to the source. No injuries have been reported.

SmartStop is the retail brand for Strategic Storage Trust Inc., a publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust. Launched in 2008, Strategic Storage Trust operates a portfolio of 126 self-storage facilities in 17 states and Canada. The properties comprise approximately 80,000 units and 10.5 million rentable square feet of storage space.

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Floridas STORE Self Storage Hosts Storage Wars Design Event to Benefit Goodwill

STORE Self Storage & Wine Storage in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is hosting its second “Storage Wars Designer Challenge” in which five local interior designers will transform empty units into furnished rooms using only items from Florida Goodwill stores. The contents of the units will be auctioned on Nov. 6 in the style of A&E TV’s “Storage Wars,” with all proceeds to benefit Gulfstream Goodwill Industries Inc.

Tickets for the event are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. The entry fee includes two drink tickets as well as tastings from local restaurants catering the event. Viewing of the units begins at 5:30 p.m. The highest bidder will win all of the unit’s contents, which will be delivered to the winner’s home the same day by a Goodwill truck.

Each designer will dress up one unit according to a specific theme with items found from one of the Goodwill stores in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties. Additional Goodwill products, such as jewelry and collectibles, will also be available for purchase.

Last year’s event drew more than 300 people and raised $14,000. The units’ contents were sold for $600 to $1,200.

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Gulfstream Goodwill’s programs including its homeless resource center, youth programs and the Transition To Life Academy, a charter school in Boynton Beach, Fla., for young adults with learning disabilities.

STORE Self Storage & Wine Storage is owned by brothers Jon and Joel Channing. The facility regularly holds community and charitable events.

Established on a national level in 1902, Goodwill Industries International has 165 subsidiaries in North America and 48 international agencies. Gulfstream Goodwill Industries Inc. was established in 1966 to further carry out the mission of the organization on a local level. It serves Florida’s Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties.

 

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Elite Stor Capital Partners Plans Self-Storage Conversion of Former Warehouse in Jacksonville, FL

Self-storage developer Elite Stor Capital Partners LLC plans to convert a former bank warehouse in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville, Fla., to self-storage. Elite Stor purchased the property for $1 million in July. The conversion project, estimated at $1 million, is expected to include at least 500 climate-controlled units and possibly wine storage. Elite Stor principal Benjamin Macfarland III told the source the facility is scheduled to open by the end of March 2015.

The single-story warehouse at 8539 Western Way comprises 72,702 square feet. The 44-year-old structure sits on 3.3 acres. Elite Stor Capital Partners deeded the property to Elite Stor Western Way Jax LLC of which Macfarland is the primary agent, according to the source.

The property is in an area that has seen a lot of recent development, including a brewery, hotel and technical school. Commercial real estate analysts have said the Jacksonville industrial market has been stable and showing signs of improvement, the source reported.

Elite Stor Western Way applied for a building permit to demolish the interior of the structure to make way for storage units at a cost estimate of $100,000. In August, it received a permit for re-roofing, estimated at $250,000, and was granted another roofing permit earlier this month for a project cost of $53,300, according to the source. “There’s quite a bit of work to be done,” Macfarland said.

Macfarland is also managing partner with Calidus Holdings LLC. Through Calidus, he has partnered to own and manage about 200,000 square feet of storage in Florida and completed more than $150 million in transactions, according to the source. Based in West Palm Beach, Fla., Macfarland said he is actively looking for more distressed properties in Jacksonville that would be suitable for self-storage.

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ISS News Desk: Shocking and Gruesome Self-Storage Stories

From gruesome discoveries to criminal intent, the self-storage industry has had its fair share of macabre news over the past few weeks. This ISS News Desk highlights some of the strange, shocking and scandalous stories everyone is talking about.

ISS Blog

Should Self-Storage Operators Muddy Their Boots With Yelp and Other Social Media?

Should Self-Storage Operators Muddy Their Boots With Yelp and Other Social Media?

Traversing the muddy expanse that is home to Yelp and other prominent forms of social media can be a tricky course for the best self-storage operators. Online customer reviews and written interaction with prospects and tenants via social media channels can be equally rewarding and infuriating for managers and owners alike. Throw in the complicated dynamic of how search engines use these channels to boost or suppress a storage facility’s search rankings, and the prospect of navigating through the muck without severely soiling one’s shoes gets, well, murky.

For small, independent owners to stay on top of online reviews is tough enough without distrusting the platforms from which they are posted. Yelp is ground zero for many business owners, including self-storage operators. At issue is whether the site boosts favorable reviews when a business advertises on the site and suppresses them in favor of more negative reviews when businesses don’t spend money.

This isn’t a new conspiracy theory. Business owners have been complaining for years. In a 2012 thread on Self-Storage Talk (SST), moderator MamaDuke proclaimed, “I do read my Yelp reviews. However, what I have noticed after dealing with issues on Yelp and taking a look at many other businesses is that Yelp likes to leave negative reviews on your main page and ‘filter’ out the good reviews. I have seen it over and over enough to know that it's not random, no matter what they say.”

Make no mistake; this is a common perception. In fact, a restaurant owner in Richmond, Calif., recently became so incensed with Yelp that he launched a campaign to become the worst-rated restaurant in the world. Botto Bistro chef and co-owner Davide Cerretoni insists the restaurant began receiving more negative reviews than normal after he stopped advertising. To get even, Cerretoni began offering discount coupons to customers who posted one-star reviews. The campaign went viral, and the number of Botto Bistro reviews jumped from around 150 to more than 1,000. On its Facebook page, Botto Bistro says it achieved its goal of more than 1,200 one-star reviews in less than three days.

The point? To make a statement about the intrinsic value of online reviews and to campaign for better transparency from Yelp. While Yelp has vehemently denied any link between advertising and reviews, a September ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco basically said the website has the right to set ad prices and adjust reviews. “Any implicit threat by Yelp to remove positive reviews absent payment for advertising was not wrongful within the meaning of the extortion statutes," wrote Judge Marsha Berzon. The court also upheld an earlier dismissal of a proposed class-action lawsuit sought by small-business owners. You can read the full ruling here.

Whether or not the ruling serves as the end of the legal battle between small businesses and Yelp remains to be seen, but the court’s decision was no doubt sobering to many who believe they have been jilted. For now, self-storage operators must decide whether or not they want to play Yelp’s game. The website holds cards in that it plays an influential role in search rankings, and to be fair, many operators have benefited from the exposure the platform provides.

In a revived social media thread earlier this year, SST moderator Storman wrote, “Social media doesn't work for every business, and I think storage might be one where the time and energy spent is not productive. I have never looked at any type of social media to determine who gets my business in any industry. I just don't care about tweets and likes. Ninety percent of all my business right now is coming from Yelp; they call me, and I close the deal. The other 10 percent is from everything else: drive-bys, signage, previous customers, referrals. Why would I spend one valuable minute on Twitter, [Facebook] or a blog?”

To be successful on social media takes time, energy and money, and every storage operator needs to weigh the cost of resources against the rewards. As SST senior member lenmay points out, much depends on an operator’s market. Is it worth spending resources on a far-reaching platform when you’re really trying to target an audience living in a small radius of three to five miles?

“Advertising is hard enough and complicated enough,” lenmay wrote. “We should do the most productive things first. We should study what works and double our efforts on those things. Then you can try the less-effective things. In many cases, the time and money spent on those secondary things cost more than they bring in.”

When it comes to Yelp, some operators may benefit from the organic exposure and whatever customer reviews trickle in. Others may see a greater return in buying advertising on the site or incentivizing reviews from customers. There’s really only one way to find out for sure. Tracking reviews and rentals before and after advertising on Yelp, should give you some data on which to make a reasonable assessment to its cost-effectiveness.

No matter how you feel about social media and its effect on your business, every self-storage operator should at least pay attention to the chatter online, whether on Yelp, Google+, Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. Claim your local listings in online directories and make sure your contact information is correct and up to date.

If you choose to traverse the muddy expanse, make sure you have a plan. ISS has numerous resources on various social media topics, including recent articles on basic etiquetteSEO tips, advertising features, Twitter’s new design and conversing on LinkedIn. Immersive content on online metrics, smart SEO, customer acquisition, handling customer reviews and much more are available in the ISS Store.

Just remember that the deeper you trudge, the more you might also need to invest in one of these bad boys. Please share some examples of how you use social media and handle online reviews in the comments section below.

European Valet-Storage Company SpaceWays Expands Service to Chicago

SpaceWays, a valet self-storage startup that kicked off service offerings in London and Paris earlier this year, launched in Chicago on Wednesday. The company offers valet-style storage services, including pickup, delivery and bin storage, through an online platform. The move follows an Oct. 2 initial public offering (IPO) on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by parent company Rocket Internet AG, a Germany-based venture-capital firm specializing in e-commerce and business startups. Rocket Internet valued the IPO at $8.4 billion, according to the source.

Chicago services will cost $5.90 a month per item or container. Customers can schedule pickup and deliveries online. Retrieval orders are $19, according to the source.

“The decision to take SpaceWays into the U.S. is based on a particular demand for the services offered by this company in this market,” Rocket Internet spokesperson Andreas Winiarski told the source. “Our primary focus continues to be on the developing world and satisfying basic needs of consumers in fast-growing markets around the world.”

Rob Rebholz, one of three SpaceWays co-founders hired by Rocket Internet, said the company believes the valet-storage model is applicable to U.S. consumers. “We saw that self-storage is huge in the U.S., and Chicago made a lot of sense … [but] in terms of self-storage supply, it’s actually very limited,” he told the source.

Valet storage providers have generally targeted urban residential customers looking for space to store small amounts of items or seasonal belongings. SpaceWays’ Chicago warehouse can store about 10,000 boxes, and the company is searching for a second location outside of downtown, according to the source.

The company uses barcodes and a proprietary warehouse-management system to keep stored items organized and is preparing to integrate radio-frequency identification as well, Rebholz said.

SpaceWays launched its London service in July and expanded to Paris in September. The company employs 30 worldwide and has three staff members in Chicago for operations and marketing. It is seeking larger office space to accommodate a larger team and call center, according to the source. Rebholz said he will split time between Berlin, Chicago, London and Paris.

Valet-storage startups that have launched in the United States in recent months include Boxbee Simple Urban Storage in San Francisco, Closetbox in Denver, Clutter in Los Angeles, Cubiq in Boston, MakeSpace Labs Inc. in New York City, Remote Garage in San Antonio, and Storrage Inc. in Seattle.

Other companies affiliated with Rocket Internet offer online shopping for domestic cleaning services, financial services, groceries and taxis in more than 100 countries.

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Kroll Bond Rating Agency Releases Special PropertyBeat Report on Self-Storage

Kroll Bond Rating Agency Inc. (KBRA) has released a special “PropertyBeat” focus report on the self-storage market. The report provides an overview of market drivers and examines the macro trends shaping the storage segment of the commercial real estate financing market, according to a company press release.

KBRA segments self-storage customers into four primary tenant categories: commercial, military, residential and students. Residential customers make up about 70 percent of the market, followed by business tenants at 17.5 percent, according to the release. The report also has data on the length of stay intended by customers and the top six states showing the largest percentage growth in square footage.

The report also discusses the industry’s move toward consolidation, highlighting the top six self-storage transactions in 2013, and provides historical data on rental performance nationally and by region.

“Self-storage demand has benefited in part due to the housing crisis and subsequent increase in multi-family rentals, as less space in the home often translates into a need for more storage,” officials said in the release. “This has helped the sector’s performance, notably during the recession.”

The national self-storage vacancy rate fell 260 basis points to 10.9 percent for the first half of 2014, according to the release. By comparison, self-storage loans securitized in KBRA-rated transactions during the first nine months of this year had an average vacancy of 14.5 percent, slightly higher than the national average, company officials said.

Titled “Self-Storage PropertyBeat: Recession Standout Exhibits Steady Performance,” the four-page PDF report is available for free download from the KBRA website, although site registration is required.

Established in 2010, KBRA provides investors with research. It is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization and is recognized by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as a credit rating provider.

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Centron Self Storage Finds Spooky Creativity in Halloween Promotional Video

In this short, animated video, Toronto-based Centron Self Storage gets creative in delivering Halloween messaging. The company promotes a Halloween party and seasonal rental promotions, and touts its add-on services—all against a spooky, scrolling backdrop and audio track.