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ISS Expo: Providing the Knowledge You Need to Succeed in Self-Storage

Budgets are tight, and everyone is doing what they can to stretch their hard-earned dollar. If you own, operate or invest in self-storage, you may not have much to spend on construction, or facility upgrades, or promotional materials this year. But for a small sum, you can make an investment that always has a high rate of return: industry education.

During Oct. 5-8, the Inside Self-Storage World Expo will provide four full days of seminars, workshops, product/service exhibits, and networking opportunities. The ISS Education Package is not only extremely affordable, it gives you access to 27 classes, taught by the leading experts in the fields of self-storage management, marketing, legal issues, finance and much more. Join us at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C., and get the knowledge you need to succeed in a challenging economy.

The following is a sample of the seminars attendees will enjoy as part of three comprehensive education tracks: 

Track 1: Facility Marketing & Promotion

Derek Naylor of Storage Marketing Solutions will present "Seven Bold-Faced Lies You've Heard About Marketing (and the Facts Behind the Fiction)," in which he'll identify the most common marketing lies and myths, and provide you with real-world marketing solutions. You’ll learn how to get greater results from your existing budget, and how to be more effective in your local market (without spending more money).

Bob Copper of Self Storage 101 will discuss "Special Event Marketing: Low-Cost Ways to Build Business and Community," providing ideas for choosing, planning, organizing and executing a successful event that earns business in this challenging economy.

On Oct. 7, attendees can partake in an intensive, four-part series addressing Web-based marketing. Attend one or all―the knowledge you'll gain is invaluable. The seminars cover:

  • How to Use the Internet to Build Your Self-Storage Business: An Overview
  • Building Your Own Self-Storage Website and E-Mail Database
  • Marketing Your Self-Storage Business Online: Directories, Search Engines and More
  • Seeing the Web at Work for Self-Storage: Online Case Studies 

Track 2: Day-to-Day Marketing and Facility Management

Mel Holsinger of Professional Self Storage Management will address "Cutting Costs to Improve Self-Storage Efficiency, Property Value and the Bottom Line," providing you with hands-on, tried-and-true techniques to help save money, improve facility value, operate more efficiently and eliminate waste.

Brad North of Advantage Consulting & Management will present "Super Sales: Create Leads, Convert Prospects and Make More Money in Self-Storage," a seminar that teaches how to build value and trust with the customer and turn more callers into renters. You’ll get concrete techniques to reverse customer objections, outdo the competition, and turn your facility’s unique advantages into profit.

Shhhhh! Keep it on the down-low! John Roser of USA Storage Resources will share "Survival Tips for Today’s Self-Storage Manager―Insider Secrets!" This special session teaches you the questions you need to ask your facility owner to obtain―and understand―esential operational information. You'll get tips for unlocking your professional potential and discovering your facility's business priorities, financial status and goals.

Track 3: Construction, Development, Finance & Real Estate

The team from Beacon Realty Capital will speak on "Understanding the Self-Storage Finance Market and Getting the Money You Need," providing an overview of finance market conditions and current lending parameters. They’ll discuss how existing owners can maintain equity and the challenges new borrowers are facing. They also have good news to share!

On Oct. 6, ISS will present a panel on "Getting the Deal Done in Today’s Economic Environment: Appraisal, Finance and Real Estate." Join our professionals as they reveal details about the market including new loan-underwriting standards, the types of properties that are changing hands, and projections for when the market may change. If you’re interested in buying or selling self-storage, you don’t want to miss this!

Interested in green facility operation? Check out "Going Solar in Self-Storage: Products, Usage, Benefits and More," presented by Bob Hayworth of Baja Construction and representatives from iParkSolar. You'll learn how to minimize utility costs, take advantage of tax credits, improve the environment and create greater public appeal for your facility.

To view a complete expo agenda and read more about the event's educational lineup, including full seminar descriptions and speaker biographies, visit the website at www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.

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California Self Storage Association Raises $30K for Cancer Research

The California Self Storage Association raised $30,000 this month for the Kure It! Kidney Cancer Research Fund, a not-for-profit affiliate fund of the City of Hope National Medical Center. Donations were collected during the inaugural Kure It! Networking Cruise and Poker Run in Newport Beach, Calif., on July 16.
 
The fundraiser was attended by more than 100 industry professionals who participated earlier that day in the Self-Storage Owner’s Summit, hosted by the CSSA and Davies Ingersoll Capital Partners. During the event, boat captains cruised along Balboa Bay, stopping at designated locations to draw poker cards.  At the end, prizes were awarded those with the best five-card hand.
 
Kure It! was founded in 2007 by Barry Hoeven, president of US Storage Centers and Westport Properties Inc. The organization is dedicated to funding kidney-cancer research under the direction of Dr. Robert Figlin, Associate Director for Clinical Oncology at City of Hope in Los Angeles. In two years, Kure It! has raised more than $400,000, Hoeven said.
 
“Kidney cancer has unfortunately touched many within our association. We are dedicated to continuing our efforts to help find a cure,” said CSSA President Jim McNamee.
 
The Self-Storage Owner’s Summit, produced annually by the CSSA, highlights issues relevant to facility owners. This year’s event featured a state-of-the-industry address by Spencer Kirk, president and CEO of Extra Space Storage Inc., and a panel discussion about self-storage real estate.

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ISS Blog

Can Customer Service Go Too Far?

What constitutes off-duty time for a resident manager? When is too much customer interaction detrimental to business operations? 

A recent posting on the Self Storage Talk forum about managers offering their cell phone numbers for tenant emergencies has brought multiple responses.  One poster noted the topic "hit a hot button" for many.

So many owners and managers across the nation enjoy the team approach—everyone working for a common goal. However, one area manager recently took things a giant step backward. He went where no one wants to go back to ever again. This man sent notice to site managers stating they were to post their cell numbers on the exit and entry keypads and the office for after-hours use.

The affected resident managers believed asking them to post their personal cell phone numbers for tenants’ use was asking too much. It's a personal number for a reason.

Any resident manager can tell you stories of abuse by tenants after hours because, in their sometimes small-minded perception, “You live here so you must work 24 hours per day.”  It requires a polite, “Yes, I’m an onsite manager, but I do have a life as well.”

If you need to drive the point home, you can add, “Just like you, I go grocery shopping, out for dinner with friends, and visit my family so I am not here 24/7. Why do you ask?” It opens a dialogue so we can address any true concerns the tenant may have.  

A tenant forgetting his code is NOT an emergency. Neither is losing a key. Ringing the office phone incessantly at 3 a.m. because the fisherman forgot his $3 foam bait cooler is NOT an emergency. A true emergency situation necessitates dialing 9-1-1, and it’s really that simple.
 
Most resident managers will go that extra mile for the after-hours customer. Be it a customer with a loaded truck that shows up wanting to rent, a gate code not functioning, or heaven forbid, a mistake made by site staff not unlocking a unit or entering a gate code. We’re human, it happens, and most resident managers worth their salt will watch for these common occurrences and be proactive about avoiding any after-hours problems.

When something out of the norm does arise, a good customer service-oriented employee will step up and handle the situation and the owner will never even know. These same managers won’t toot their own horn for doing what they think is right, as they have vested themselves in the company they have chosen to work for.

The line of human compassion is crossed when business is ranked above people, as it is the people who truly make a business succeed. No downtime creates burnout, customer service can take a nosedive, and business can be impacted. Every human being needs a break from work and most get it by clocking out at 5 p.m., but a good resident manager can never truly clock out.
 
Determine the last time your staff took a couple days away for their own personal refreshment and enjoyment. I’m not referring to their normal days off when they run errands and catch up laundry, but real time away. Do you appreciate your employees who go that extra mile? Most managers appreciate the relationship with owners, but everyone loves a special treat. Could a dinner certificate, or a night away in a hotel a couple hours away or a simple handwritten note stating your appreciation be a good investment?

Odds are your staff will appreciate the compassion and you’ll get a better return on your investment in after-hours customer service than you will from demanding use of personal property to run your business. A well-rested, appreciated employee is a benefit every facility should strive to have, and it usually equates to a reciprocal relationship. 
 
There are a multitude of  after-hours notification solutions available. To get some ideas or add one of your own, check out this Self-Storage Talk thread.
 
 

Noah's Ark Self-Storage Opens Apopka, Fla., Location

Noah’s Ark Development has opened Noah’s Ark Self Storage Rock Springs in Apopka, Fla. The 79,000-square-foot, 556-unit facility has been renovated with the company’s architectural style and signage. It is the 13th in the Noah’s Ark chain and the fifth in the state of Florida.

The Rock Springs facility offers traditional, climate-controlled and humidity-controlled units. The projects suppliers are:

  • Roll-up doors and hallwau systems, Janus International Inc.
  • Digital video surveillance and security systems, Digitech International Inc.
  • Third-party facility management, Joshua Management
  • Management software, Centershift Inc.
  • Building components and erection, NDS Construction Inc. and Cross Metal Buildings

In its 20-year history, Noah’s Ark Development has completed more than 3.5 million square feet of self-storage and offers services including general consulting, market analysis, economic feasibility, site and unit-mix planning, third-party development, chain development and joint ventures.

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Self-Storage in the Southeast States: Real Estate Snapshot

Naylor Presents Free Webinar on Self-Storage Marketing

On Aug. 25, Derek Naylor, president of Storage Marketing Solutions, will present a free webinar for self-storage operators titled, "Three Pillars of Profitable Facility Marketing to Keep You Strong Through the Winter and 2010." Participants will learn about inexpensive, efficient marketing strategies as well as technology that can help self-storage owners and managers accurately measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Topics will include developing an effective marketing strategy and budget, three secrets of effective Internet marketing, attracting new tenants through social-media websites, and marketing misconceptions that could cost operators money.
 
The event will take place at 2 p.m. ET. Interested parties should register at Ministoragemessenger.com.

Related Articles:

Storage Marketing Solutions President Skydives for Charity

Weighing Risk and Reward in Self-Storage Marketing Messages (By Derek Naylor)

Art of Marketing: How to Start a Feeding Frenzy for Self-Storage (By Derek Naylor) 

7 Bold Face Lies You've Heard About Marketing (and the facts behind the fiction) [Self-Storage Talk]

Move 'N Store Adds Altoona Distribution Center

Move ‘N Store, a division of Phoenix-based Pioneer Packaging Inc., has opened a new distribution center in Altoona, Pa., to serve self-storage operators throughout the Northeast and Midwest. The center will offer the company’s full line of boxes, padlocks, packaging materials and moving supplies designed to meet the retail needs of self-storage operations.
 
Customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, D.C., can get custom delivery within three days. In addition, Move ‘N Store representatives are available to consult with self-storage operators and managers to identify products that will meet their customers’ needs and generate the most profit for their business.

Move ‘N Store provides moving and storage, packaging, and security products to the self-storage and self-move industries through a network of nationwide distribution centers. Pioneer Packaging is part of the Pioneer/Heritage Corporate Group.

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Choosing the Best Retail Boxes to Sell in Self-Storage

Retail Display Tips for Self-Storage

Pioneer Packaging Acquires Move 'N Store

Amazing Spaces Buys Plot for Self-Storage in Tanglewood

Self-storage operator Amazing Spaces has purchased a 2.3-acre parcel of land near the upscale neighborhood of Tanglewood in Houston, Texas, where it plans to build a 120,000-square-foot self-storage facility. The property was listed last year for $4.9 million, though the sales price was not disclosed.
 
Amazing Spaces was represented by David Marshall and Tim Dosch of Apartment Realty Advisors. Bill Blythe of Martha Turner Properties represented the seller, a California resident who inherited the property.
 
Based in The Woodlands, Texas, Amazing Spaces recently started selling self-storage franchises. In addition to climate control, its facilities include wine vaults, conference centers and reception areas. The Tanglewood facility will be landscaped with fountains and waterfalls.
 
Amazing Spaces is also under contract on a piece of land near the Texas Medical Center for what will become its fifth property.
 
Source: Houston Chronicle, Self-storage operator buys parcel near Tanglewood

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Menifee Self Storage Charity Drive Supports Local Schools, Charities

On Friday, Menifee (Calif.) Self Storage and Second Chance Textile hosted a charity drive to benefit local schools and charities. Residents were encouraged to contribute used clothes, shoes, small household appliances and books. Donations of school supplies such as notebooks and pencils were also accepted for distribution through Project School Bell.

Second Chance resells and recycles people's unwanted items, most of which are sold for distribution to thrift stores and Third-World countries. A portion of the proceeds goes to schools and charities such as Rancho Damacitas Children's Home in Temecula, Calif., and Project School Bell, which helps children who are unable to purchase their own school supplies.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, Closet-clearing charity event planned in Menifee

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Avoid the Top Five Mistakes of Social-Media Marketing

As a self-storage owner, you already know the importance of using traditional advertising outlets—print, radio, Yellow Pages and TV exposure—to keep your name circulating in the market. Now, however, there's a new avenue in which to become familiar. It's called social-media marketing (SMM), and when combined with your traditional PR efforts, it can help you penetrate the marketplace with your message quicker and easier than ever before.

With this type of marketing, you use various social-networking sites to enforce your brand and market your business. A social-networking site is simply an online meeting place. Think of it like an eHarmony or Match.com for business people. On such sites, people can post a profile with the hopes of meeting other like-minded professionals for business reasons.

According to the Nielsen Research Group, social networks and blogs have moved ahead of personal e-mail among the most popular online activities in which people engage. Additionally, USA Today reports the time spent on these sites is growing three times faster than the overall Internet rate. More than two-thirds of the world's online population now visits social-networking and blogging sites.

Knowing this, it's clear that if you haven't yet engaged in social-media marketing, the time to start is now. But before you do, you need to be aware of the top mistakes businesses make with this PR outlet so you can avoid them and get the biggest return for your marketing investment.
 
Mistake No. 1:Having More Than One Face on the Internet

When you're engaging in social-media marketing, you're really building your image from the ground up. The goal is to virally spread parts of your image across the Internet. The word “parts” is important.

Basically, you're starting with a holographic image of yourself in the virtual world. You then need to break that hologram apart and find the appropriate places on the Internet where you can frame certain pieces of that hologram.

When someone looks at all the pieces on the various sites, they should be able to put them together to see a cohesive whole. They should not see multiple images of who you are, as that would ruin your credibility. Therefore, if you have multiple Facebook accounts, for example, your personal one has to be hidden and by invitation only. You don't want that other image out there confusing people and possibly diminishing your reputation.
 
Mistake No. 2: Collecting Friends

Social-media marketing is how you create instant buzz on the Internet by getting the same message out over and over. It's spreading your message and getting your company branded so you can get more business. Social networking, on the other hand, is about making friends.

For example, you've likely seen someone on LinkedIn who has 25,000-plus contacts. That's great, but what do you do with all those associates? Remember, just because you have a phone book in your office doesn't mean you can open the book at random, pick a name and call it for business.

When you collect a contact, you're supposed to be opening the door to exchange information and build a relationship. Think of it as relationship marketing in the 21st century, and the same rules apply. The only difference is you're building the relationship online rather than over coffee.
 
Mistake No. 3: Putting Out the Wrong Messages

You've likely seen people on Twitter or Facebook post, “John Smith is watching a great movie and eating popcorn.” Such messages may be fine for personal networks, but for business ones, you need to put out messages that are useful to your readers. In other words, don't talk about yourself. You want to give valuable tips and advice so the people who read your posts want to repost them to their own sites. That's how your message spreads virally.

The key is to keep your messages consistent. Remember, people are subscribing to various feeds to get your information. They’re essentially saying your message has value. That's why you can't do a series of sales tips and then post a couple of your favorite omelet recipes. You have to stay on message, and your message has to be for your readers.

With that said, it’s OK to occasionally have a press release-type message that says, “John Smith is speaking at ABC Convention on employee productivity today.” This kind of message does two things: It tells people they might not get a tip today or tomorrow because you're busy, and it shows that other big-wigs out there think your message is important. It's a positive reinforcement that boosts your credibility, so long as you don't do it too frequently.
 
Mistake No. 4: Posting Inappropriate Information

Don't allow yourself or anyone on your site to post anything online that you don't want your most conservative client to see. You never know where something will end up, especially since the nature of the Internet is for things to spread virally.

For example, a CEO of a corporation had a picture of himself and his girlfriend on a topless beach in Mexico. For some reason, he decided to post the photo on his personal, invitation-only Facebook site. The man was married and his wife saw the photo. How? Someone on his invitation-only Facebook account thought it was a great picture and decided to repost it on the public Internet.

To top it off, his board of directors got wind of the photo and fired him. Now he's no longer employable in that field or position again. The moral of this story: Never post anything on any site you wouldn't personally show your own grandmother.
 
Mistake No. 5: Using Only One Internet Site

In the “old days” of the Internet, people believed they had to keep all their content on their own website. The theory was that spreading it out ruined your credibility and diminished your reputation as being a unique speaker. Not so today. In fact, with social-media marketing, the opposite is true. The more places you can get your message to appear simultaneously, the more effective it will be.

Think of it as constructing a funnel. You want to lay several trails of information, all of which lead to your main site. Therefore, no matter how someone stumbles upon you, as long as they “follow the trail,” they'll eventually find you. That's essentially what you're doing with social-media marketing messages: putting out kernels of information. If someone wants the next kernel, they have to follow the trail. Eventually it funnels them to one website, which is where you wanted them to be anyway.

You're creating an environment where people see your message everywhere. As a result, you now have their attention and have the opportunity to sell your product, services, or whatever you're selling at that point of distribution.

Here's an example of the power of funneling: Recently Aaron Chronister posted a message on Twitter. Someone saw his post and reposted it on a blog. CNN and The New York Times found the post interesting and reported on it. Because of that exposure, Chronister got a book deal from Simon and Schuster. So, what was his post about? Current events? Global warming? A tell-all celebrity biography? Nope. It was a Twitter post with a unique bacon recipe, as Chronister was trying to get publicity for a barbeque club he belonged to. That's how powerful funneling your message can be.
 
Get Noticed

The marketplace is changing, and you have to change with it. Your name has to be everywhere—in print, on radio and TV, and on social-networking sites. The more you get your name and message circulating in the various mediums, the higher the chance your clients will see your information. Thanks to social-media marketing you can get your message out to thousands of people in an instant. And the results are greater credibility, more exposure, and higher sales—all of which positively impact your bottom line.
 
Pam Lontos is president of PR/PR Public Relations and author of I See Your Name Everywhere. Maurice Ramirez is the chief strategist for social media for PR/PR, and speaker on the importance of social-media marketing. For more information, call 407.299.6128; e-mail [email protected].

Related Articles:

Six Must-Haves for Successful Social-Media Marketing

Using Social Media in Self-Storage: Does it Measure Up to the Hype?

ISS E-Book: Best Practices for Self-Storage Marketing

Self-Storage Talk: Social Marketing: Friend or Foe

 

 

ISS Blog

Six Degrees of Michael Jackson ... How Self-Storage Got Roped Into This Mess

Just when you thought there couldn't be any possible tie between the Michael-Jackson-controversial-death-mystery media frenzy and our industry ... Surprise! Police raid a self-storage unit belonging to one of Michael's doctors, one Dr. Conrad Murray, who is now officially a suspect for manslaughter in the investigation.

This week investigators removed evidence from Murray's unit at Eighteenth Street Self Storage in Houston, including computer hard drives, CDs and documents. You can read a summary of the story here: Police Raid Storage Unit of Michael Jackson’s Doctor. And if you've got the time, jump over to ABC News and watch the news report.

I don't share this for the sake of gossip. This new turn in the story brings to light an important fact of our business: You never know when a public sensation lies in wait. You must have a plan for addressing the media in the event that your facility is pulled unwittingly into the limelight thanks to the behavior, reputation or status of one of your tenants.

If you checked out the video, you'll see a very short clip of the self-storage facility manager, talking about items that were removed from Murray's unit by two women the day MJ died. From the look of things, I'd say the woman was completely unprepared to be thrust in front of the camera and had no real presence of mind. I don't know the facility's policies, but in my estimation, she had no business talking to the media or sharing details of the unit's contents or its renter's activities. Her husband also gave an interview to a reporter with The New York Times. That's not exactly "damage control."

But let's be fair: Anyone can be taken off guard by the descent of the media, and some even enjoy the attention. As a business operator, however, you should have in place a specific set of guidelines to follow during public-relations hiccups. For example, read these articles published in ISS:

How would you have handled this situation? What's your facility policy? I'd love to hear from both owners and managers. And if you feel an overwhelming urge to chat on the topic, hop over to Self-Storage Talk and join in on the thread where people giving their views on the doctor's role in MJ's demise.