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Kliebenstein Presents 'How to Make Money in Self-Storage' Webinar

On April 8, self-storage industry expert RK Kliebenstein will present a free webinar titled, "How to Make Money in Self-Storage," a live, online event for self-storage owners, operators and managers who wish to increase rental rates, create greater facility value through equity growth and control expenses. Hosted by MiniCo Publishing, the webinar will take place at 2 p.m. ET.
 
Kliebenstein, president of Coast-To-Coast Storage, has more than 20 years of self-storage experience and is the co-author of How to Invest in Self-Storage, How to Make Money in Self-Storage, and "How to Make More Money in Self-Storage.

For details and to register for the webinar, visit www.ministoragemessenger.com/webinar/index.html.

Glasgow Self-Storage Facility Called to Assist Dunblane Museum

Kangaroo Self Storage of Glasgow, Scotland, has been asked to store precious artifacts while the Dunblane Museum undergoes a major refurbishment. The facility’s climate-controlled units and security system were tested in advance, and the self-storage staff assisted with the move-in. Chris Stevens, the storage company’s managing director, said was delighted to be chosen.
 
“Our exhibits are safe and secure with Kangaroo storage in Glasgow and will be in excellent condition when we collect them,” said Janice Ainslie, assistant curator with the museum.
 
Kangaroo Self Storage has locations in Dundee and Glasgow, Scotland.
 
The Dunblane Museum was established in 1943. The building in which it resides dates back to 1624 when it is recorded as being the house of the Dean of the Cathedral. It contains extensive genealogical information from the burial records of all Dunblane churches.

Perspective, Persistence and Patience Sustain Self-Storage in Trying Times

As I write this column, the United States is about to experience the transition of power to a new presidential administration. The future of tax codes remains in doubt, with calls from all points on the political compass for either higher or lower taxes. Newspapers and magazines across the country are closing. Manufacturing companies are in jeopardy. Vendors and operators within our industry continue to consolidate. The financial landscape for most of us has changed forever, while the word “billions” has replaced “millions,” and “trillions” is becoming part of our national lexicon.

These are clearly unchartered waters. I hear the uncertainly, concern and downright fear from some owners and their managers across the country. So I decided to write about the 3 Ps to keep us all on task in 2009.

Perspective

“The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance” is one definition of “perspective,” according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. We all need to step back from what looks like the edge of the cliff to put things into perspective and develop a new and honest view of today’s reality. As an owner, you need to look closely at what is happening in light of other real estate asset classes and returns on various financial investments. While we have seen an erosion of occupancies and our inability to maintain consistent increases in rental rates, the fundamentals of our industry remain sound.

Unlike the lodging industry, where hotel consultants like PKF Consulting of Atlanta expect lodging facilities to fill an average of just 58 percent of rooms in 2009, national self-storage REITS have been holding in the 80 percent occupancy range. We don’t have bankrupt big-box retailers like Circuit City as anchor tenants closing and putting the viability of others in jeopardy. Move-outs might exceed move-ins, but we are still renting units to new customers.

I realize this comparison doesn’t help those who opened a new facility a few months ago and are watching their working capital accounts dry up as overly optimistic lease-up projections are becoming just wishful thinking. Our perspective will need to digest what type of return a 65 or 70 percent financial occupancy will produce for us in 2009 instead of the 85 to 90 percent of prior years.

It is also vital that our outlook doesn’t overlook the critical contribution employees make to the success we are enjoying. Walt Disney said it best: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

Make sure your facility managers and everyone else involved in operations maintain an optimistic outlook. In some cases, we are loosing customers who have been tenants for years because of changes in their businesses and personal circumstances. However, we still have people stepping up to our rental counter to rent.

Persistence

I turn once again to Merriam-Webster to help me define “persistence.” All four of the definitions listed below fit the circumstances we find ourselves in today. There is literally a call to action within each of these definitions:

  1. Go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity or warning;
  2. Remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition or position;
  3. Be insistent in the repetition or pressing of an utterance (as a question or an opinion);
  4. To continue to exist especially past a usual, expected or normal time.

All of us must maintain persistence to get the job done: to work every telephone inquiry like it is our last; to find a way to rent a unit to everyone walking into our offices; and to look for every opportunity to talk, listen and support our existing customers.

We must resolutely insist the entire management team contributes to the site’s success. There isn’t the luxury, for example, to have a part-time employee whose work must be double checked at the end of every shift. The mantra must be: “Pull your fair share on the tug-of-rope of success or we will find someone who will.” I know it sounds cold, but some owners are talking about business survival.

Patience

Defining “patience” is, once again, my dear friend, Merriam-Webster:

  1. Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint;
  2. Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain;
  3. Not hasty or impetuous;
  4. Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

Everything in life goes through cycles and self-storage is not immune. No one working for a living or trying to make payroll can expect to come away without a few black-and-blue marks before this is all over. Patience will pay off in the long run. When coupled with a new perspective and a willingness to be persistent, 2009 will not become Armageddon for us like it already has for so many other businesses and families.

ISS EXPO in National’s Capital

During the Christmas Holidays, my wife and I took two of our grandchildren to the new Gaylord National Hotel in the Washington, D.C., area, which happens to be the site of the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, Nov. 3-6. The hotel is spectacular with a variety of restaurants and vistas to enjoy. It’s considered to be the largest non-gaming hotel and conference centers on the Eastern Seaboard.

November will be a great time of year to visit D.C. for the ISS Expo. Plus, you’ll enjoy shops and restaurants in and out of the hotel, as well as at National Harbor, where there’s something for everyone. See for yourself: www.nationalharbor.com. For the hotel, visit www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-national. Most important, plan now to attend the event: www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com. See you in November!

Jim Chiswell is the owner of Chiswell & Associates LLC. Since 1990, his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence and customized manager training for the self-storage industry. He has served for a number of years on the Inside Self-StorageEditorial Advisory Board, is a moderator of the Self-Storage Talk online community, and is a faculty member of the Self-Storage Training Institute. He can be reached at 434.589.4446; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.selfstorageconsulting.com.

Wall Street Marks Best Close of 2009

The stock market saw a small burst Tuesday after Citigroup Inc. announced the company made profit during the first two months of the year. The news energized financial stocks and, in turn, the entire stock market.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average is up 379 at 6,926. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 43 at 720. The Nasdaq composite index is up 90 at 1,358.
More than 15 stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 2.17 billion shares.

Analysts remain caustious, noting Wall Street has seen many blips higher since the credit crisis and recession began. 

Source:  Forbes.com,  U.S. Stocks Shoot Higher on Citigroup Profit News

Inside Self-Storage Humanitarian Service Award: Winner in the Spotlight

Hawaii Self Storage is one of four recipients of the Inside Self-Storage 2009 Humanitarian Service Award. The award recognizes self-storage companies and professionals who support charitable causes. A $2,000 grant was given to the nonprofit organizations, projects, events or programs endorsed by the winners.
 
Because Hawaii Self Storage is locally owned and operated, its owner and employees believe they have a responsibility to give back to and invest in their community. Their passion is so strong they adopted the motto “community pride” to represent their commitment to serving the people of the state.

Over the past five years, the company’s charitable efforts have blossomed into nine community programs that have given out more than $250,000 in financial scholarships, books, sponsorships and donations. The programs are designed to invest in children’s education, athletics and literacy.

The company has implemented book drives and coordinated family events to support local high schools, libraries and charities. With the current financial crisis, Hawaii Self Storage has also stepped in to help families in need and support other local charities and organizations. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Back
Hawaii Self Storage has five locations on the island of Oahu, with each facility averaging 1,700 units. The facilities feature state-of-the-art security, 24-hour access and staffing, loading docks, business centers and conference rooms.

As part of its community philanthropy, Hawaii Self Storage has four programs in its community-pride outreach initiative:

  • Rent to Charity invites new self-storage customers to donate their first month’s rent to the non-profit organization of their choice, with all 501(c)3 entities eligible to receive donations. “This is our way of encouraging our customers to follow our lead and get involved,” says Daniel Ho, company president. Hawaii Self Storage budgeted $10,000 for advertising to promote Rent to Charity and ensure Hawaii non-profit organizations reap the benefits of this program. “We hope this new program can make a difference, one locker at a time,” Ho says.
  • The Transition Assistance Program, launched nearly a year ago, assists residents experiencing financial difficulties with free storage for a minimum of four months.
  • Scholarships have provided more than $109,000 in $1,000 per year, renewable for graduating seniors to apply to their higher-education costs for up to four years.
  • Literacy Programs have annually collected books to benefit Hawaii Literacy’s Book Mobile by offering customers a $2 credit for every donation. More than 4,000 books and educational games were collected in 2007. “As a locally owned company, we’ve made it our mission to help the community, and we support programs aimed at enhancing literacy, education and teamwork among Hawaii’s youth,” Ho says.

Each Hawaii Self Storage location also sponsors youth athletic teams, donating approximately $4,000 per facility, and makes donations to other local charities.


 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Lead
Being named a recipient of the ISS Humanitarian Service Award was “truly an honor,” says Shaun Salvador, vice president of marketing and sales. “This is our first award that recognizes our effort in the community aside from our everyday business. It exemplifies a part of our culture, what we call the ‘aloha spirit in Hawaii—taking care of the people by providing the best storage services and reinvesting in the community through our outreach programs.”

Owner Mike Wood and the staff of Hawaii Self Storage lead by example and hope other companies will follow in their quest to help the Hawaiian community. “Giving back should not be an option, it is a responsibility,” Salvador says. “It is important that all companies realize this; we all depend on each other to survive and succeed.”

For more information about Hawaii Self Storage and its community programs, call 808.949.7233; visit www.hawaiiselfstorage.net.

ISS Blog

Customer Service CountsEspecially in a Recession

Are you spending more time standing in line at retail and grocery stores? How about on hold for customer support or waiting for your dinner to be served at your favorite local restaurant?

Employee layoffs—from department stores to nationwide real estate companies—means there are fewer employees to serve our needs. And as the employees scramble to cover a job once done by several people, customer service often goes out the window.
 
A recent article on MSN.com illustrates the importance of good customer service—no matter the state of the economy! The article names the 10 best companies for customer service. Some of these companies have suffered employee losses, but some have not.

At the top, of course, are luxury companies like Lexus and Jaguar. When you’re dropping some serious dough on a “luxury” automobile, you expect to be treated like royalty, right? No. 1, not surprisingly, is Amazon, the Web giant that has cornered the market in online shopping. Ace Hardware, always known for its customer-oriented style, rounds out the list.
 
These companies have learned that everyone has a choice. You don’t have to buy a Lexus; there are other luxury autos to choose from. And Amazon may have just about everything you can imagine, but there are a bazillion places to shop online. But by focusing on the customer, these companies keep them coming back.
 
Great customer service is even more important in today’s dire economy. Let’s face it, nearly everyone is angry, confused sad, in despair, upset or, at the very least, concerned about the recession. So tempers and feelings are on shorter leashes. I’m sure you see it every day: The couple forced to downsize after losing their home in a foreclosure. Or, the family who has to give up their unit because they can no longer afford it.
 
Take a cue from Amazon and Lexus. Your customers have a choice. They can just as easily travel a little farther down the road and walk through some other facility’s doors to rent a unit. Give them a reason to stay with you.

Here are some great articles from the ISS archives about improving customer service. 
 
Customer-Service Savvy for Self-Storage
Stabilizing Self-Storage Occupancies in an Unstable Economy
Being the Best We Can Be

More Americans Riding Buses, Subways and Commuter Rails

Budget-conscious Americans hopped on more buses, subways and commuter rails in 2008, according to industry figures released Monday.

Last summer's record-high gas prices and the falling economy has led more people to seek cheaper forms of transportation. Experts disagree whether the number of riders—the most since 1956—indicates Americans' travel habits are changing or if the shift away from cars is temporary.

People made 10.7 billion trips on public transit in 2008, a 4 percent increase over 2007, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Over the same time, Americans drove 3.6 percent less on the nation's highways. Gas prices peaked at more than $4 in July before falling, but ridership remained strong.

Source:  MSN.com,  Transit Ridership Up, Highway Travel Down

Arkansas Senate Passes Bill to Repeal Self-Storage Tax

The Arkansas Senate voted Monday to repeal the state's tax on mini-warehouses and self-storage services. By a 30-3 vote, the senators approved legislation that would repeal the tax beginning July 1, 2011.
 
The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said losing the tax would cost the state about $4.2 million a year. The warehouse tax was enacted in 2004 by lawmakers to help pay for an overhaul of the state's public school system. The proposal now heads to the House.
 
 
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XPS Services Changes Name to XPS Solutions

XPS Services. Ltd., a provider of self-storage call-center services, has changed its name to XPS Solutions Ltd.  The company also unveiled a new identity and website, www.xpsusa.com. The change is intended to reflect the company’s evolution and aim to provide complete business-development solutions to self-storage owners and managers.  
  
Following its acquisition by owner and CEO John Traver in 2004, the company has grown from a 15-seat, 1,200-square-foot call center into a 100-plus seat, 10,000-square-foot call center.

Store Self Storage Participates in Spring Dress Drive

Store Self Storage in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., helped a local charitable organization play fairy godmother last week. The facility's lobby was turned into a makeshift boutique Friday as part of a spring dress drive, which collects formal gowns for underprivileged teenagers. Coordinated by the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, the drive collected nearly 250 dresses this year.

Source: 12News.com,Dapper Dresses Light Up Local Teens' Prom Nights

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