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Sentry Self Storage Names 2008 Manager of the Year

Sentry Self Storage named Mike Murphy the 2008 Manager of the Year. Murphy joined Sentry Self Storage and Your Storage Place in 2006 as an assistant manager and became one of the top performers in the company, earning  the Assistant Manager of the Quarter award in 2007. He was promoted to property manager of Your Storage Place in Houston in 2007. During this time, Murphy oversaw several improvements:

  • Coordinating with 600 tenants, movers and contractors during a facility-wide door replacement.
  • Entire asphalt replacement and adding new drainage.
  • Painting the entire property.
  • Opening the store after Hurricane Ike with no power for almost two weeks.
Murphy also:
  • Increased GPI by 21 percent
  • Managed a year-over-year growth in revenue of 10 percent
  • Managed a year-over-year net operating income growth of 15 percent
  • Increased year-over-year rentals by 37 percent
  • Increased occupancy by 10 percent

For more information, call 954.346.2330; visit


Health Officials Say Stay Informed on Peanut Recall

Health officials are reminding the public to keep up-to-date with the recall list of peanut products connected to a national salmonella outbreak. More than 2,000 products have been recalled. The outbreak has sickened 637 people in 44 states. Consumers can call  the Center for Disease Control's toll-free hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hot line number is 800.CDC.INFO.

Source:  Chicago,  Health Officials Caution Safety in Peanut Recall

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Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Peanut Butter

Make Carwash Technology Your Best Friend

You have all heard the comment, “When times are tough, the tough get going.” General best practices for management would tell us that in times like this the safe strategy is to hunker down, stay close to the business and pray to survive. It’s not exactly a formula for successful remote management, though, or is it? 

Finding Your Inner Tiger
During lean, tough times, business owners generally fall into three categories, characterized by animal traits: 

  • The ostrich—keeps his head in the sand, in denial, and is usually the first to perish.
  • The turtle—is slow moving, inflexible, taking limited action while expecting the storm to pass and things to naturally return to normal.
  • The tiger—continually planning, stalking, executing and staying proactive. These are the natural tough guys, born to prosper, no matter the odds.

The tiger image recalls the old adage: “In every seed of adversity there is an equal or greater seed of opportunity.” If you fit the tiger mold, you look at tough times as an opportunity. The tiger says, “My competitors are turtles or ostriches. They aren’t going to look for opportunities; they don’t have the tools or the skills to capitalize. So, it is time for me to plan, invest and execute!”

As the planning process evolves, the tiger identifies opportunities, explores weaknesses within the market, evaluates the competitors and, most important, themselves. From this investigation, goals and objectives come to the forefront. Reflection conjures up the development of strategies, assignments and accountability.

The carwash business is facing tough times with shrinking revenues, growing expenses and, for most, reduced frequency of customer purchases. The customer’s access, size and priority usage of expendable income has become smaller and more precious. The competition for an ever-decreasing pie has become increasingly more challenging. So how do you respond?
All Systems Go
Management “systems” and information technology is a relative newcomer to the carwash industry. Of course we’ve all had rudimentary mechanical systems to count cars, energize equipment and provide some management information, but systems were, by today’s standard, primitive, expensive and not terribly reliable or necessary. Most operators were “hands on” and didn’t see the value of sophisticated systems.

Thanks to the government, particularly those branches involved in sophisticated accounting, surveillance and spyware, the private sector has benefited from the trickle-down effect. The ability to manage single and multiple sites has never become more feasible.

The ability and need to identify, categorize and target specific customers has led to a new breed of marketing, sales and management organization. No longer is your core equipment manufacturer your most important supplier. Now, it’s the “IT” guy, formally the nerds, who come to the forefront and show how to capture, utilize and provide a competitive advantage.
Technology Tribute
Thanks to the Internet, Windows-based systems, Apple and other core-system developers, business owners can avail themselves to a plethora of technology and information that enable management to “hopefully” operate smarter and more efficiently. The hopeful part refers to the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out.” Is there too much information? Can you use it? And what’s the benefit to the

The newest generation of technology and software adds a whole new twist to the carwash industry. Today’s systems have been developed with specific applications in mind. System provider’s work in concert with operators, trying to meld programs with the industry instead of the other way around.

The focus is now on efficiency: How can you maximize resources, minimize investment and positively impact the bottom line? The more control we put into credit card clearing, labor, cash and inventory control, the easier it is to keep track of the bottom line. Add the ability to integrate this into a user-friendly accounting package and voila ... life becomes a whole lot easier.

Most successful operators are looking to expand (or are doing so already) to multiple locations, doing it ever-so gracefully with technology. Of course, technology cannot replace engaged management, but today’s systems do make it easier to operate more efficiently.

Consolidation of resources increases the opportunity for greater margins. Fortunately, technology has become affordable and far easier for the small-business owner to acquire. Put it to the test. Just don’t forget to keep your human touch involved in the business whenever possible. Technology can make systems smoother, but it can never replace the smile and courtesy of onsite management.
Fred Grauer is the president of Grauer Associates. He has made a lifelong career of designing, selling, building and operating carwashes. He can be reached at [email protected]

President Obama Signs Stimulus Bill

With Vice President Joe Biden by his side, President Barack Obama signed the much-debated stimulus bill Tuesday in Denver. The $787 billion program is designed to breathe life into the country's failing economy.

Speaking in Denver, the city where he won the Democratic presidential nomination last summer, Obama said the massive government spending and tax cut program opened the road for Americans to begin "laying claim to a destiny of our own making."

The president put his signature to the bill in a highly unusual ceremony away from the partisan tensions still gripping Washington. As he spoke in Denver, he was closing out his first month in office—opening days of a new administration that have seen a relentless storm of economic bad news and public pessimism.

In remarks before signing the bill, Obama cautioned Americans not to expect a quick or dramatic economic turnaround and said government intervention was not at an end. The stimulus "doesn't constitute all we're going to have to do to turn our economy around."

Source:, Obama: Stimulus Lets Americans Claim Destiny

Noah's Ark Self Storage Balboa Opens in Florida

Noah’s Ark Development opened a new facility in the Orlando, Fla., metro area two months ahead of schedule. Noah’s Ark Self Storage Balboa is a state-of-the-art complex with more than  94,000 square feet of space in a variety of unit sizes. The facility has 339 climate controlled, 102 humidity controlled and 204 non-climate controlled units.  

The easy-glide roll-up doors and hall systems were supplied by JanUS Door. The digital video surveillance and security systems are products of Digitech International, a Chamberlain Group Co., and allow 24 access to tenants. Joshua Management will employ Centershift, a Web-based management system, as the operational software. The general contracting company, NDS Construction, worked with Cross Metal Buildings to provide and erect the steel components, roofing and cladding.  For more information, e-mail [email protected].   



Self-Storage Auditing Forms and Checklists

As a companion to a publication titled “Auditing Self-Storage: Preventing Employee Theft & Embezzlement,” authored by self-storage industry expert Tom Litton, MiniCo Publishing is offering downloadable forms and checklists to help self-storage owners perform facility audits. Used in conjunction with the book, the ready-to-use forms and lists are available for electronic download for $14.95. Info:

Iowa Floods Have Long-Term Impact on Self-Storage

Since the June floods that left thousands of people homeless in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, self-storage operators have found themselves either full or struggling to recover from their own losses.
After the flooding, there was a lack of available storage space in the area, and facilities like Adams Storage reaped the benefits. Facility owner Bob Adams says his 100 self-storage have been filled nearly every week since the summer. Green Acres Storage, with facilities in Marion and Southwest Cedar Rapids, remains close to full even though it opened about 200 new units last fall.
But other self-storage facilities were adversely affected by the flooding. Add-A-Space in Palo, Iowa, was flooded by about 2 feet water. Owners Dan and Diane Lucore notified renters that the flood was coming, but many couldn't or chose not to move their stuff. Afterward, they worked with tenants to sort through their belongings, providing snacks, drinks and a rest area. The facility managed to reopen in approximately five weeks, though vacancies are higher than before the flood.
In general, local storage operators say the market is tight due to contractors who rent units for renovations as well as job losses and home foreclosures that have forced residents into smaller domiciles.

Source:, Area storage facilities seeing boom in demand

Virginia Self-Storage Operators May Help to Out Tax Evaders

Self-storage owners in Virginia may have to provide their local commissioner of revenue with the names of out-of-state residents who park vehicles in their outdoor storage areas. Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County, has proposed House Bill 2289 that could remove a tax shelter enjoyed by some boat and RV owners. The bill passed a key test last week.
According to Cline, out-of-state residents are storing their boats and campers at fenced storage locations, making it impossible for the commissioner to tax them. A similar bill by Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Mechanicsville, titled SB 896, already has been approved by the Senate.
Source:, Cline bill on tax evaders clears hurdle

U.K.'s Wolverhampton Self Storage Plans Expansion

Wolverhampton Self Storage is planning a regional expansion program in response to strong demand for storage in Bilston, United Kingdom. The economic downturn has led many companies in and around the Black Country area to downsize their own premises and turn to self-storage as a means to safely and inexpensively move their stock offsite.   

“The increasing demand for self-storage shows that our market growth is very resilient and, in fact, is actually being helped by the tightening of the economy,” says Gary Wheway, business development management.

The Wolverhampton Self Storage facility is part of Worldwide Self Storage, which provides consultancy and training for companies already operating or interested in setting up self-storage facilities.

Source:  Birmingham,  Wolverhampton Storage Company Planning Expansion 

Column Wrap

Detroit-based Ideal Shield, a manufacturer bumper-post sleeves, guardrails and handrails, announced its new column wrap, which helps self-storage facility owners maintain the look of columns in high-traffic areas. The wrap enhances the aesthetic and safety of any building, while minimizing damage and increasing visibility. Available for square or round columns, the wrap is easy to install and stays securely around poles using a unique locking device. Made of polyethylene thermoplastic, column wraps are maintenance-free, require no paint and are cost effective and durable. Info: