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Storage Units Searched After 151 Chihuahuas Found Dead

After finding 151 dead Chihuahuas and more than 100 live dogs at a Dearborn, Mich.., resident’s home last month, police searched 14 self-storage units of various sizes that were rented to the 56-year-old James Lang. The units at Secured Self Storage contained more than 100 televisions, several lawnmowers, humidifiers, about 100 outdated computers and eight-track tape machines, but no animals or animal remains, according to an article in The Detroit News.
 
Wayne County prosecutors are weighing possible charges against Lang, including animal cruelty. Lang kept the dead animals in refrigerators and freezers around his home. The living animals were allowed burrow through the accumulated waste and filth.
 
A decision on the charges could come next week, said James Schmier, Lang’s attorney. 

Source: The Detroit News, Police raid storage lockers owned by Dearborn Chihuahua owner

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Great Britain Residents Use Self-Storage as 'Spare Rooms'

The lack of space in Great Britain’s homes has driven people to use self-storage units as extra rooms, according to an article on Times Online. Customers are renting self-storage to use as walk-in closets, game rooms, music rehearsal space and martial-arts practice areas. Neil Riding, chief operating officer of Safestore, one of the country’s largest self-storage operators, said people renting “spare rooms” is increasingly important to his business.
 
According to the Times article, there are approximately 750 self-storage sites nationwide, with 2 million square feet added in the past year alone. Facilities are marketed as convenient sites with 24-hour access.
 
Source: Times Online, My spare room is in storage

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A-1 Self Storage Donates to HIV/AIDS Relief Programs

Over the past three years, California self-storage operator A-1 Self Storage has donated $250,000 to programs that provide relief and prevention for HIV and AIDS worldwide. Much of the company’s support has been directed toward the Missionvale Care Center in South Africa. Support has also been given to groups in Central and West Africa as well as Haiti.
 
A-1 Self Storage has 17 facilities in the greater San Diego area and more than 40 locations across California. It is division of the Caster Cos., which specializes in the acquisition, development and management of self-storage and other commercial property. A family-owned business, its portfolio includes more than 4 million square feet of real estate.

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StorageOp Acquires Two MA Self-Storage Facilities

Storage Opportunity Partners LLC and Storage Pros Self Storage acquired two Massachusetts self-storage facilities, one in the Cape Cod town of Falmouth and the other in Fairhaven.
 
The Falmouth facility, on State Route 28, has 79,495 rentable square feet in five two-story buildings. Truck rental will be added to this facility.
 
The Fairhaven facility, with frontage on State Route 240, consists of 41,500 rentable square feet in six single-story buildings. The new ownership will update the site, including the complete renovation one building to add climate control.
 
The properties will be rebranded Storage Pros Self Storage and operated by Storage Pros Management LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of StorageOp that offers third-party property-management services. 
 
The acquisition brings StorageOp’s holdings to 13 properties totaling 780,000 rentable square feet, 6,800 units and more than 950 outdoor parking spaces. All properties are in the company’s target markets of New England and Southeast Michigan and were acquired over the past two and a half years.

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Boat and RV Storage: Marketing Secrets Revealed!

Marketing is the most important aspect of managing and owning a storage facility. It’s a misunderstood concept because, all too often, we see marketing as fliers, brochures, ads and gimmicks. The reality is marketing is everything we do to find, influence, motivate, service and retain customers.

With the current economic pressure on the marketplace, is it any wonder everyone is looking for creative and innovative marketing ideas? While growing up, my father would often say to me, "If it was any more obvious, it would jump up and bite you." The same adage holds true today. Most marketing ideas exist right under our noses.

There’s nothing secret about marketing―nothing sacred―and no one has a corner on brains when it comes to this skill. Ninety nine percent of the time, marketing any product or service simply involves discovering what customers want, offering more than they expect, and getting their attention.
 
Ring of Demand

The marketing of boat/RV storage has slightly different dynamics than the marketing of conventional self-storage space. For example, consultants will typically espouse that most self-storage customers live within a 5-mile radius of the subject property. While this analysis is accurate, boat/RV storage tends to attract customers from a much greater “ring of demand.”

Many renters will drive up to 15 miles for their storage needs. This is due primarily to the lack of boat and RV parking in most markets; therefore, the consumer must drive simply to find space. This information is useful because dollars spent on marketing for boat/RV storage can be justified in publications or mediums that reach a much greater viewing audience. Local cable-access commercials or newspaper advertising tends to produce better results for boat/RV renters.

These consumers also stay much longer than conventional storage renters. The average tenant stay for a boat/RV customer is well over 24 months. In other words, you can spend more to attract prospects because you have a much longer rental period to amortize your marketing costs. Moreover, outbound missionary marketing efforts, though expensive to implement, tend to yield a much higher return for these customers because of their tendency to stay longer.

Boat/RV customers tend to be influenced by amenities, security and conveniences, more so than conventional self-storage renters. This is due in large part to their commitment and desire to stay longer. In other words, once the boat/RV renter finds suitable storage space, he tends to stay, remain loyal and pay well.

This is especially true if the self-storage operator is selective in the types of vehicles allowed on the property. The typical renter will assess the quality and value of the other vehicles he sees on the site in determining his desire to rent. If there’s a visual, high-quality cadre of other vehicles, he will tend to favor a facility, even if the rents are higher than low-end properties, such as towing yards, marinas, etc.
 
Marketing Secrets

Are there any secrets to marketing boat/RV storage? The answer is right under our nose. Boat and RV renters want secure, hassle-free storage, and they want a long-term relationship. Here are some creative ideas to better market your facility:

The wash. Purchase a portable power washer, stepladder, squeegee and tire-dressing solutions and wash every boat, car, motorhome or other vehicle every month. Boat and RV customers absolutely love this service and will rave to their friends about it.

The power washer simply removes surface dirt, dust and accumulated grime. After spraying the vehicle down, immediately squeegee the windows so they remain waterspot-free. Lastly, swipe a tire dressing, such as Armor All, on the tires and dry any other remaining water accumulations. Most maintenance personnel can wash 50 vehicles per day, depending on the size of the vehicle. During the important summer months, this service is invaluable to customers.

When marketing and advertising boat/RV storage, be sure to emphasize that this service is included free with each rental. This information should be on your Yellow Pages ad, website and any fliers. 

More power. A few innovative boat/RV-storage marketers install electrical outlets to accommodate motorhomes. This allows them to offer trickle chargers free of charge or on a rental basis to motorhome renters. They love this service because, in many cases, especially during long periods of inactivity, the batteries run down and must be recharged. A facility in Gilroy, Calif., offers this feature and it rarely has a vacancy in its motorhome spaces.

Bigger space. Many of us fail to see that we all are in the boat/RV-storage business. Because of the current economic crisis, many facilities now have 10-by-25 and 10-by-30 storage spaces sitting empty. These idle units are producing no income as standard storage, but what about as covered boat/RV spaces? Some astute self-storage marketers are offering them as the ultimate in clean, safe and secure vehicle storage.

The spaces can be marketed this way by giving renters special pricing for a limited time, such as six months. New rental contracts can always be reviewed and renegotiated at the end of the term. This has strong appeal during the winter months when parking a boat or vehicle out of the elements is more desired by the consumer.
Get referrals. Self-storage facilities get phone calls every week inquiring about boat/RV parking. Approximately one in 10 self-storage facilities has purpose-built, boat and vehicle parking. The question is, are you cultivating a relationship with your competitors to send you these inquiries, and are you paying them for it?

If the answer is no, you’re overlooking a very important marketing tool: referrals. Self-storage facilities turn away these calls every day. The only way to get your competitors to keep sending you referrals is to actively cultivate these relationships.

Every time a competitor sends you a customer, you should reward, thank and encourage him to do it again! Be creative. Every new referral should become more lucrative. For example, if he sends one referral, send a $10 gift card or cash. On the second referral, send a $20 gift card or cash. On the third, send a gift certificate for dinner at Outback Steakhouse, etc. Referrals are valuable; don't waste them.

Marketing is hard work and must be coupled with innovation and sprinkled with creativity. Think outside the box and get busy renting storage spaces.
 
Tom Litton is the president of Lodi, Calif.-based Litton Property Management Inc., which specializes in self-storage and provides manager training, seminars, manuals, instructional guides, development, feasibility and management consulting. Litton is a well-known industry expert and professional seminar presenter. For more information, call 209.334.3800; visit www.littonmanagement.com. 

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ISS Blog

Get Your Market On ... and Win Some Dough

Did you know when you applied for the job you currently hold that your duties would include marketing? It doesn't matter what you do. Whether you're a self-storage manager, an editor, a real estate broker, a financier, a retailer or a circus clown, your job will involve marketing out of necessity. Because in a competitive business environment—and nothing ramps up competition for businesses more than an economy like this one—your relationship and communication with consumers is everything.

Here at ISS, we've been watching our readers grow into their new role as "marketer" in addition to all the other roles they fulfill, keeping an eye out for anything inventive we could share to help them along the way. For example, we published a press release highlighting some innovative billboards: Manhattan Mini Storage Launches Humorous Ad Campaign. We plugged a YouTube video for an Illinois facility called "Jones' Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage," a creative and gut-busting approach to facility marketing. We also gave a call out to U-Store-It for its TV commercial and accompanying campaign. We've offered kudos to many other operators in recent years for their outside-the-box approach to promotions.

Lately, we've been so impressed with some of the campaigns we've seen that we decided to create an incentive and see what comes out of the woodwork. We know there are facility owners and managers doing amazing marketing work out there, and we want to see it! So, we're offering some cash and running a brand-new initiative: the ISS "Best in Self-Storage Marketing" contest. First prize is 1,000 bucks!

The contest is open to all self-storage owners, operators and managers. We're looking for examples of your most creative, innovative, effective marketing pieces and campaigns: a print ad, a billboard, a video, a commercial ... whatever promotional work you feel proud of. For details, visit www.insideselfstorage.com/marketing_contest.

You can also jump into a discussion about the contest happening on Self-Storage Talk:  Marketing contest!

If you have questions about the contest, feel free to give me a shout at [email protected]. We just launched the contest on Wednesday, and I'm so far impressed with the enthusiasm and submissions I've received from participants. The application deadline is Aug. 28, so don't wait! Show us how much you rock at self-storage marketing!

Chandler, Ariz., Gets Super-Modern Self-Storage

A new high-tech self-storage facility recently opened in the Chandler, Ariz., Airpark. C3 Modern Storage―the Cs stand for “clean, cool and convenient”―offers upscale architecture, a wine vault secured by a retinal scanner, gun-storage lockers, safety-deposit boxes, individual unit alarms, a conference center, a copier, Internet access, and an entertainment center complete with a flat-screen TV and videogame console. The facility is managed by Judy and Greg Verkuilen.
 
The four-level, 114,000-square-foot facility is the brainchild of Phoenix-based Vivo Development Partners. It is part of the company’s planned 40-acre Watermark development, which currently houses an office building and will be expanded to include more offices, retail and restaurants. The firm chose Chandler for the city's high per-capita income, said Devan Wastchak, Vivo managing partner and a Chandler resident.
 
Source: East Valley Tribune, C3 brings new self-storage idea to Chandler

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Strategic Storage Trust Launches Retail Website

Strategic Storage Trust Inc. has launched a website enabling users to reserve and rent self-storage units from its entire nationwide portfolio. The new site, Strategicselfstorage.com, allows consumers to shop a directory of storage centers to find and reserve space. It also helps them calculate their storage needs, provides a moving checklist and planning timetable, and offers packing/storage tips and lists of supplies.
 
Strategic Storage Trust is a $1 billion, publicly registered, non-traded real estate investment trust. The company is sponsored by Strategic Capital Holdings LLC, which manages 42 self-storage facilities across 13 states and a growing portfolio of more than 5.5 million square feet of commercial property.
 
Source: Trading Markets, Strategic Storage Trust, Inc. and Strategic Capital Holdings, LLC Launch Self Storage Rental Website

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Pogoda Cos. Brokers Sale of Bristol Self Storage

Pogoda Cos., a Farmington Hills, Mich., self-storage operator and broker, facilitated the sale of the 33,550-square-foot Bristol Self Storage facility in Burton, Mich., for $1.3 million. The seller was Bristol Storage of Michigan LLC. The new owner is SJ Storage Properties LLC, a local private investment group, which intends to operate the facility under its existing name. Morry Greener represented both parties. Constructed in 1987 and expanded in 2004, the facility includes seven buildings with 234 units. 

Pogoda Cos. has approximately 3 million square feet of self-storage space under management in 38 facilities throughout Michigan and Ohio.

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Crime-Prevention Classes Now Available to Wichita Falls Self-Storage Businesses

The Crime-Free Program that is reducing criminal activity in Wichita Falls, Texas, apartment communities is now available to self-storage facility owners and managers. The three-hour class is provided free of charge by the Wichita Falls Police Department.
 
Last fall, WFPD joined more than 2,000 cities that are providing crime-free training around the world. To date, more than 120 people have taken the city’s class. Calls for emergency services in some businesses have been reduced by as much as 75 percent, according to a press release issued by the department.
 
According to WFPD, self-storage businesses provide a unique target for criminals because many items of valued are stored there. Additionally, criminal conduct can go unnoticed due to low traffic in the area. The new class provides solutions to many of these problems. The International Crime Free Association has found self-storage businesses can reduce their calls for service by as much as 60 percent, WFPD said.
 
Self-storage owners and managers interested in taking the class should call 940.720.5019. Upcoming classes are scheduled for Aug. 25 at 6 p.m., Aug. 26 at 8:30 a.m., and Aug. 27 at 1 p.m.

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