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MiniCo Hosts Webinar for Potential Self-Storage Insurance Agents

On April 22, MiniCo Insurance will present a free webinar for independent insurance agents and brokers on how to write insurance for self-storage. "Stimulus Plan for Writing Self-Storage Risks" will address topics such as identifying a good self-storage risk, characteristics of a quality submission, and how to stimulate a book of business. The online seminar will be presented by Keith McConnell, customer care manager, and Chris Nelson, underwriting team supervisor, who will discuss in detail how agents may locate prospects and market themselves to selfstorage owners. To register, visit www.minicoinsurance.com.

MiniCo Insurance, a division of MiniCo Inc., provides specialty insurance coverage for self-storage operations nationwide.

Cutting Edge Buys Salt Lake City Self-Storage Facility

Cutting Edge Self Storage Management acquired American Systems Mini Storage in Salt Lake City from Joan R. Davis for $2.73 million. The 34,713-square-foot property was built in 1976. Marc Handley of NAI Utah Commercial Real Estate represented the buyer. Randy Ross of Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT represented the seller.
 
Source: CoStar.com, Self-Storage Complex Sells for $2.7M

Florida Self Storage Association Hosts Conference, April 13-15

The Florida Self Storage Association (FSSA) will host a conference and tradeshow April 13-15, 2009. The event will take place at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel and resort in Orlando, Fla.
 
The event will include seminars for self-storage owners, developers and managers on topics such as revenue management, legal issues, effective marketing, project designs that sell, and development pitfalls in a changing economy. A “State of the Industry” panel discussion will be presented by Kent Christensen, chief financial officer of Extra Space Storage; Dean Jernigan, CEO of U-Store-It Trust; Bruce Manley, CEO of United Storage Group; and John Tomlinson, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank. The speakers will share what their companies are doing to maximize revenue.
 
“We are 100 percent committed in helping our membership get through this tough economy,” said Chip Cordes, FSSA President. “The program we have prepared focuses on sharing proven solutions in self-storage. This will be completed through our education sessions, networking opportunities and exhibitor support.” 

The FSSA is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals and businesses with interest in the self-storage industry in Florida. Members include facility owners, operators, vendors, developers, investors, property managers and suppliers. For more information, visit www.floridassa.org, or contact Executive Director Kate Corripio at 877.222.9441.

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10 Tips for Making a Good First Impression in Self-Storage

Good customer service goes a long way toward the success of a business, yet so frequently we encounter employees who seem disinterested in their work. You know the type: When you enter an office or store, they ignore you or act like you're bothering them. It really makes you want to take your business elsewhere, doesn’t it?

Self-storage managers are officially the “Directors of First Impressions.” As frontline staff, they provide tenants, customers, vendors and the general public with the first impression of a facility and the company they represent.

How do you fare as the director of first impressions at your self-storage site? What impression do you provide when someone walks through the door for the first time? Are you genuinely happy to see them when they come in? Do you stand up, greet them promptly and call them by name if you know them?

10 Tips to Earn the Good Impression

Here are 10 tips that will help you succeed in making a good impression. Incorporating these items in your day-to-day activities will increase your facility’s business and leave you feeling more satisfied as you grow professionally and personally.

1. Be genuinely pleased to see everyone who walks through your door. Greet people at the door; hold it open for them as they enter. A smile and a handshake is always a great way to greet people—even the mailman. Be enthusiastic about your work. Treat everyone as if they were your personal guests.

2. Take interest in each caller or visitor. Smile easily. Ask questions to understand their needs and determine a solution for their requirements. Use open-ended questions to invite customers to paint a true picture of their situations. Make lots of notes and repeat things back to solidify your understanding. This helps people realize you identify with their situations and are serious in assisting them with the correct choices in storage. Offer the appropriate packing supplies, insurance or other ancillary items to enhance their storage experience.

3. Don’t presume, assume or lead. It is easy to think that we know the answers to tenants’ questions before they even ask. Remember each individual’s situation is different. Even if you can identify the solution quickly, you will have better rapport and a long-term tenant if you let them explain their needs in their own words.

Don’t make determinations about what folks will or won’t pay for, do or don’t want or what they know or don’t know. Also, don’t lead by asking a question and then answering it for them. Your job as a professional is to listen, offer the options and items that you feel would be of benefit to them, then let them make the decision.

4. Don’t say, “No.” If you do not have a solution that readily fits their needs, be creative. Rather than saying, “We don’t have a 10-by-10 at this time,” say, “We don’t have a 10-by-10, but I can offer you two 5-by-5s for the same price, or a 10-by-15 unit that will give you even more room. Which would work better for you?”

Remember you are in the business of providing solutions and renting all the units you have available. Don’t be easily stopped if customers hesitate to sign a rental agreement. They are calling or are in your office because they want to rent a unit, so find a solution that works for both of you.

5. Know your stuff. Practice and have a great presentation for each of the key items in your business, focusing on all of the following:

  • Answering the phone
  • Presenting the rental agreement
  • Demonstrating the keypad
  • Showing a unit
  • Explaining the tenant’s responsibility for insuring his own goods

Be consistent in how you present all of the above so that all customers get the same great service. Know your policies and follow them. Read the rental agreement and understand the terms so you can explain with confidence any questions related to that document. If you do not know the answer, tell the person you will find out and get back to them ... then do it.

6. Maintain a neat and organized office. File items promptly; handle cash with diligence; audit your own work and that of your other staff. Two sets of eyes on all items of importance makes for a great check-and-balance system to assure everyone is in compliance and performing the tasks consistently.

7. Maintain great curb appeal. Make sure your windows and doors sparkle and are free of fingerprints and smears. Are you banners straight, not droopy? Replace torn or faded signage and banners promptly. Are all the light bulbs working? How does the landscaping look? Is your merchandise fully stocked and clean with prices on all items? How does the office smell? When you take immaculate care of your facility and surroundings, people will more easily believe in your business and entrust their belongings to your storage services.

8. Check the mirror before every shift. Wear your uniform with pride and ask for replacement shirts if yours are stained or worn-looking. Make sure your clothing is wrinkle free. Do your shoes need to be replaced? Presenting an impeccable you will help you feel confident about yourself, your work and property.

9. Track your key business statistics and goals. Understand how many move-ins you need to increase occupancy by 1 percent or meet your budgeted goals. Set a goal for merchandise sales and insurance penetration, and make a plan to succeed. For example, if you want to sell $700 in merchandise in a month, you’ll need to sell $23.33 a day to meet that goal. Monitor your performance daily to assure you’re on track.

10. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. Let your tenants and customers know you appreciate them regularly. You’re useless without them; good customer service will keep them around.

Tried and True

It’s no secret that these are just tried-and-true tips for good customer service, but while we all are aware of them, we all have the opportunity to improve on them every day. It takes a conscious effort. To truly be the Director of First Impressions you need to set yourself as an example of excellence.

As John D. Rockefeller Jr. said, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” Put these 10 tips to good use and you’ll be an uncommonly good manager who makes great first impressions every day on the job.

Linnea Appleby is president of Sarasota, Fla.-based PDQ Management Solutions Inc., which provides full-service facility management, consulting, startup, auditing, management and training services. She is also the managing director for the Florida Self Storage Association. For more information, call 941.377.3151; visit www.pdqmanagementsolutions.com.

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Morningstar Properties Launches New Marina Website

Morningstar Properties LLC, a North Carolina-based self-storage and marina company, has launched a new website to market its nine marinas. The site, www.morningstarmarinas.com, was created in collaboration with Strata-G Communications, which has developed a comprehensive plan to expand Morningstar’s brand in the boating community from Virginia to Florida. It was developed by bitFlip Technologies of Charlotte, N.C. Website visitors can find Morningstar locations, learn about products and services, manage their accounts and even check the weather.
 
Morningstar is a developer, builder and operator of specialty real estate types across the Southeast. Since its founding in 1981, the company has developed and operated more than 70 self-storage projects totaling almost 6 million square feet. The company owns and manages nine marinas in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

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Murder Suspect Shoots Himself Near Westy Storage Center

A 23-year-old murder suspect shot himself to death near Westy Storage Center in North Elmsford, N.Y., last night when police approached the cab he was in. Local officers were assisting Hackensack, N.J., police in apprehending the man for whom an arrest warrant had been issued for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend last month.
 
Police tracked the suspect using his cell phone. When they stopped the cab and ordered the occupants to get out, the suspect shot himself with a semiautomatic handgun and died on the scene.
 
The suspect is believed to be rapper Darnell "King Tut" Brittingham, whose girlfriend was stabbed seven times in her Hackensack apartment on Feb. 12. Brittingham was suspected of stabbing the woman two days after being bailed out of the Bergen County jail for possession of drugs.
 
Source: The Journal News / LoHud.com, Slaying suspect kills self in Greenburgh

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Building a Self-Storage Customer Base With Records Management

There’s no question about it: The economy is tenuous and people are full of unease. That can mean different things for self-storage operators, depending on a customer’s specific situation. With all of the market uncertainty, now might be a good time to expand your operation to include an ancillary service such as records management.

Many storage operators are discovering the synergy between their existing business and records management. While records management is not a new concept, it is gaining momentum as this industry looks to draw a broader customer base, generate additional revenue and lower overall risk.

As a self-storage manager or owner, you already have two essential assets for successful records management: an established customer base consisting of great candidates for these services, and an existing facility. If your customers are satisfied with your self-storage services, chances are they will favorably consider your company for their records-storage needs. All you need is a little imagination, a sound business plan and the desire to enter the business, and you can provide a critical service that will continue to grow
 
High-Profile Records Mishaps

Mismanaging critical business records can result in disastrous consequences, and dealing with events after the fact can be costly. Recent investigative reporting and media publicizing the mishaps of several well-known companies have thrust records management and corporate accountability into the spotlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, non-compliance to industry and government regulations have resulted in expensive litigation, financial penalties, bankruptcy and even worse—jail sentences. All of this is due to poor or inadequate recordkeeping. Because records can easily get lost or fall into the wrong hands, society is now demanding higher standards for the accuracy and availability of content.

Consider some of the main events of our era: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, changing technology. It’s imperative that companies document plans for their vital records and business resumption in the event of such scenarios. The majority of these plans require that records be maintained off site within a specified distance. With issues such as negative media attention at the fore, records management has turned into a thriving and profitable business for many self-storage owners.
 
Cost and Space

Some other reasons why records management has become such a booming business boil down to real estate, simple economics and issues regarding space. A records center does not require a prime location. Storage operators can invest in a less desirable area and arm themselves with sophisticated security and tracking devices.

Their customers (law firms, insurance companies, etc.) find it cost-prohibitive to store records on site when a records center can do it for less. Equally important is the records center can often manage information with a greater degree of accuracy than they could themselves.

Finally, many smaller and mid-size corporations not yet hit by the threat of large and costly litigation want records safe but out of the way. Space becomes an issue, and housing what is considered to be nothing more than ancient history now becomes a back-office expense, adding little or no value to a company.  

What’s in It for You?

Records management is constant. You can sell an account one time and it keeps growing. Looking at the statistics, an average account grows at a rate of approximately 12 percent. Larger accounts tend to grow at a more rapid pace.

Another benefit of records management is a stable customer base. Once you win an account, it tends to stay with you. As long as you provide great service, it’s unlikely a customer will move to another vendor. Switching service providers in records management means moving inventory and, in most cases, paying costly out-charges from the current provider. Many customers do not feel comfortable moving their critical information, much less paying termination fees.

In addition, records management, although far more high-tech today, is still a rather simple business model with minimal liability. Claims for breakage and damage are virtually eliminated. Through the use of standard industry contracts, your financial exposure is typically limited. Customers who require excess value pay for the additional insurance.

Another great attribute of the records-management business is the sale value of the established business, as there is an active market for existing records-management operations.
 
Using Records-Management Software 

When people think records storage they may think low-tech—pallets, forklifts and warehouses. These are typically the tools of storage companies. True records management is the discipline of managing records to meet your customers’ operational needs, accountability requirements and community expectations.

Records-management software works by allowing you to attach rules to records that tell the system when it is OK to delete them or move them to a data archive, either physically in boxes or electronically on storage devices such as tapes. 

Software should be the foundation of your records center. It should provide everything from fundamentals such as barcode tracking of containers, files and tapes, to invoicing, Internet access and wireless scanning. Most important, software should provide key business rules to optimize your business. 

Well-established software will include built-in rules to ensure your records center cannot make many common business mistakes. For example, something as rudimentary as not allowing a duplicate barcode number is critical. Good software protects you from making such an error. 

Partnering with an experienced and knowledgeable software provider is critical to your business success. Keep in mind that you are not only buying products and services, you’re buying the company behind them as well. Make certain the software provider has a long and reliable track record in the records-management industry.
 
Christine Spisto is the marketing-communications and public-relations director for O’Neil Software, which offers software and hardware solutions to more than 850 records centers in more than 67 countries, ranging from startups to multi-nationals. The company’s software manages and tracks multiple types of data, including traditional storage boxes, file folders, documents and tapes from deposit to destruction, work order to invoice. For more information, call 949.458.1234; e-mail [email protected]; visit http://www.oneilsoft.com/.

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New Food Labels Give Consumers More Information

Consumers now have more information about the foods they purchase as a long-awaited government policy on food labels kicks in this week. 
 
Labels on most fresh meats, some fruits, vegetables and other foods will now list where the food originated. In the case of meats, some labels will list where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The new rules make it eaiser for consumers to determine if food is imported or domestic.

The regulations, first enacted in September, had a six-month window for manufacturers and suppliers to meet compliance. Food safety groups lobbied for the policy, which was enacted by Congress as part of a wide-ranging farm bill last year.

Source:  MSNBC.com,  Long-Sought Food Labeling Law Takes Effect Today

Former Nursing Home Converts to Self-Storage in Wichita Falls

Mike Shallenberger and a group of investors acquired the former Wood Care Center nursing-home facility in Wichita Falls, Texas, for conversion to a Saf-T-Loc Self-Storage facility and other businesses. Shallenberger plans to renovate the multi-use property to include traditional and climate-controlled self-storage, retail stores, offices and possibly a restaurant. Approximately 40,000 square feet will be used for storage units. Shallenberger said he hopes to start work on the project in the next few months.
 
Source: TimesRecordNews.com, Group Acquires Facility

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