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Light Fixture Causes Fire at Paramount Self Storage

On Friday, firefighters from Stanhope and Netcong, N.J., extinguished an electrical fire at Paramount Self Storage. No damage was reported to any of the interior units. Police responded to a fire alarm at the site shortly before 8 p.m. and found the fire had begun in a ceiling light fixture.
 
Source: Daily Record, Stanhope fire traced to light

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ISS Launches Best in Self-Storage Marketing Contest

Marketing is more critical than ever in today’s self-storage market, and facility operators have had to become much more savvy and creative with their promotions and advertising. To recognize the marketing achievements of today’s storage operations, Inside Self-Storage has launched its first “Best in Self-Storage Marketing” contest, open to all facility owners, operators and managers. Participants can win up to $1,000.
 
To enter, contestants must complete a simple application form and submit examples of their operation’s best marketing pieces or campaigns. A marketing piece can be a TV commercial, radio commercial, billboard, print ad, direct-mail piece, flier, printed promotional item, a YouTube video or other video. Submissions can be made as hard-copy or digital files.
 
The deadline for submissions is Friday, Aug. 28, and winners will be notified via e-mail on Sept. 9. The first-place winner will receive $1,000; second place will receive $300; and third place will receive $200.
 
The contest is sponsored by Tucson, Ariz.-based Professional Self Storage Management, which provides third-party management and consulting services for self-storage operations, including due diligence, feasibility studies and development.
 
For contest details and to participate, visit www.insideselfstorage.com/marketing_contest.


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Risk-Proofing Your Boat/RV-Storage Operation: Insurance and More

Self-storage operators are always looking for better ways to use their valuable space and increase revenue. Many owners with land slated for additional storage units are now considering the boat/RV-storage storage trend. This type of expansion is usually much less expensive than the construction of traditional units, but adding boat and RV storage requires changes to many facets of your operation.

Before you implement a new offering, you need to determine the insurance exposures and risks involved and the requirements to protect your business. The best way to do this is to confer with your insurance agent and legal representative to ensure you have all your bases covered. Here are some items to keep in mind:
 
The lease. Your rental contract should be written specifically for the storage of moving vehicles and boats. It should contain wording that limits or restricts the storage of hazardous fluids, gases and tires.
Drip protection. This should be mandatory for all vehicles and written into the lease agreement.

Insurance and registration. All tenants should provide copies of the owner’s vehicle registration and insurance auto policy. Make sure both carry the same name as your tenant. Do not accept either if it is written to another individual or business. Also, establish a system to obtain copies of renewals to keep your files current.

Photographic evidence. Taking photographs of the boat or RV will be helpful in the event of a claim regarding the condition of a vehicle. Keep the photos in the tenant’s file.

Minimize facility damage. Install crash posts around building corners to protect the facility from damage. It’s important to make sure the aisles are wide enough for trucks and trailers to move in and out of assigned spaces.

Special gate sensors. Boats and RVs are much larger than cars, so you might need special gate sensors that allow the gate to stay open for a longer period.  

Number spaces and update software. Even for your outdoor storage, you should have distinct parking lines to avoid tenants crowding each other. Spaces should be numbered in sequential order and included in facility-management software.

Hazardous waste. This is separate from the different types of fuel sources. Cleanup costs and property damage for your or your neighbor’s property and tenants’ stored goods can be substantial from an ongoing fuel leak. Ask your insurance agent about pollution coverage.

Follow state lien laws. It’s just as important to follow state lien laws for RV and boat storage in the event of delinquency. Although it’s never easy to dispose of a vehicle, many states offer a way to re-title one. Your best line of defense is to consult an attorney. 
 
Stay Up-to-Date

If you’re already storing boats and RVs or want to add this service to your existing storage operation, these guidelines address some of the liability items you need to consider to keep your business as safe as possible. Your attorney and insurance agent will guide you through the process.

If you decide to provide additional services such as parking, fueling or washing, you assume care, custody and control of the vehicle. This could also affect your insurance coverage. Ask your insurance agent about increasing the limits on your customers’-goods and the sale-and-disposal legal liability coverages, particularly because RVs are valued higher than most items in a typical storage unit.

Remember to stay in touch with your insurance agent with any updates or changes to your facility or services.

Jenny Bortman is an account executive for Phoenix-based Universal Insurance Facilities Ltd. For more information, call 800.844.2101; visit www.universalinsuranceltd.com.

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ISS Blog

Internet Hijacking, Part 2

Last week, I blogged about the misuse of Internet information websites and the shady business practice called website hijacking. I wanted to follow up with a bit of good news.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an Inside Self-Storage webinar presented by David Wolf of National Yellow Pages Media. During his presentation, David explained many advertising topics along with the types of services his company provides.

Low and behold! Eureka! I’ve found it! A company that actually combats the underhanded Web tactics for you! They concentrate on keeping information on the World Wide Web up-to-date on your business and so much more.
 
Pleasantly surprised, I immediately added following up with David on my to-do list for the near future after some current fires are extinguished. Had I gone looking for a company to protect our interests online, I don’t even know what keywords I would have searched for to find someone to handle this chore. Luckily I didn’t even need to tire my fingers searching in vain, spending countless hours researching.

Here was David of National Yellow Pages Media and he not only told us about his company’s services, but he was very gracious in offering many helpful suggestions for the do-it-yourselfer. David’s webinar is one of the many featured under the heading “Webinars” ISS offers free of charge.

I advise everyone to take an hour every week and listen to a webinar that is pertinent to you and your facility. I learned something new when I logged on to the most recent webinar. There is a business service that can assist me in streamlining some of my tasks, which frees my time up to spend with our customers. Those customers, as we all know, are the lifeblood of our success, so anything that helps us concentrate on them is a good thing.
 
 

Office Developers Focus on Surprise Self-Storage

First-time self-storage developers Jeff and Sandi Hunter are happy to see the completion of their 100,000-square-foot Vault Self Storage facility in Surprise, Ariz., especially in this economy. As the owners of Hunter Engineering in Scottsdale, Ariz., the couple had purchased 5.5 acres with the intent of building office condos. When the office market started looking bleak, they decided to diversify, Sandi said, and began investigating the self-storage market.
 
Vault Self Storage, at 13360 W. Willow Ave., offers packing and moving supplies, video surveillance, unit alarms, online payment options and more.
 
Source: Phoenix Business Journal, Economy prompts developers to shift gears, open self-storage facility

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Police Seek Self-Storage Christmas Light Burglar

Deputies in Waverly, Neb., are looking for the thief who broke into seven units at Waverly Self Storage on Saturday, stealing $20 worth of Christmas lights. The facility owner called police on Sunday to report the burglary, stating that the padlocks on the units had been cut. The lights, however, were the only item found to be missing.
 
Source: The Lincoln Journal Star, Seven storage units, $20 in Christmas lights

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Memphis Developers Turn to Self-Storage Projects

Developers struggling to find successful projects to build in the Memphis, Tenn., area have turned to self-storage facilities and apartment complexes. In recent months, two large storage facilities and have been proposed in Shelby County. Developers site the mortgage and foreclosure crisis as having killed demand for residential building.
 
The Memphis City Council recently approved the Germantown Storage Planned Development, owned by Jack Johnson. In addition, the Land Use Control Board endorsed a self-storage project as part of the Cordova Ridge Planned Development.
 
Wesley Ashworth, vice president of Prime Development Group, said his company has not done a residential development in almost two years. He is working with Johnson on the Germantown project, which will have feature 340 interior units and 115 outdoor spaces.
 
Other self-storage projects could also be coming to the area.
 
Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal, Rentals thriving despite economy

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Public Storage Announces Second-Quarter 2009 Operating Results

Public Storage Inc., a self-storage real estate investment trust, released its operating results for the second quarter of 2009, ended on June 30.
 
Net income to shareholders was $199.2 million, compared to $133.8 million for the same period in 2008. The company attributed the increase to a $33.2 million foreign-exchange gain, a $25.4 million reduction in general and administrative expenses, and an $11 million reduction in depreciation and amortization. This gain was offset by a reduction in same-store operation and an impairment charge included in discontinued operation with respect to intangible assets.
 
Same-store revenue decreased 3.5 percent, or $12.6 million, compared to the same quarter in 2008, due to a 2.9 percent reduction in realized rent per occupied square foot, combined with a 1.1 percent reduction in average occupancy. The cost of same-store operation declined 3.4 percent, or $4.1 million, compared to the same period in 2008, largely due to a $2.6 million reduction in media advertising and a $1.5 million reduction in repairs and maintenance, offset by a 4.3 percent ($1.5 million) increase in property-tax expense.
 
Net income allocable to common shareholders (after allocations to preferred and equity shareholders) was $135.5 million, or $0.80 per common share, on a diluted basis compared to $68 million, or $0.40 per common share, for the same period in 2008.
 
Funds from operations for the quarter increased to $1.40 per common share on a diluted basis as compared to $1.10 per common share for the same period in 2008, representing an increase of $0.30 per common share, or 27.3 percent.
 
The same-store group of facilities represents 1,899 facilities the company has owned and operated on a stabilized basis since Jan. 1, 2007.
 
To view the company’s detailed second-quarter operating results, visit http://www.publicstorage.com/CorporateInformation/pdf/press2009_Aug06.pdf.

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FSSA Continues Free Education Sessions

The free education session hosted by the Florida Self Storage Association (FSSA) in Destin, Fla., last week filled to standing room only. This year, FSSA is presenting a total of five such sessions throughout the state, with the next to take place on Sept. 17 in Jacksonville, Fla.
 
On Aug. 7, FSSA members gathered to hear self-storage seminars such as “Turning Your Phone Calls into Rentals,” by Matt Van Horn of Cutting Edge Self Storage; “Catastrophe Planning: What to Do When a Hurricane Comes Calling,” by Dave Polson of Tower Hill Insurance Group; and “Catastrophe Aftermath―How to Begin Before It Ends,” by Travis Lawhorne of Accountable Management.
 
The FSSA is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals who have an interest in the self-storage industry in Florida. Members include facility owners, operators, developers, investors, managers and suppliers. For information about upcoming information sessions, visit www.floridassa.org.

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Free Webinar Addresses Abandoned Records in Self-Storage

Earlier this year, a self-storage operator in Maine caused quite a stir when he attempted to sell a unit full of records from a defunct mortgage company. The press and public were outraged, and the Maine legislature jumped into action with a bill to regulate self-storage auctions.
 
So what is a self-storage owner or manager supposed to do when he finds business records or other personally identifiable information in a unit that has been abandoned or gone into default? This question and others will be answered during a free webinar titled, “Addressing Abandoned Records in Self-Storage: What We Can Learn From Maine.” The live event will take place on Oct. 13 at 11:30 ET and is hosted by Inside Self-Storage.

Part of the ISS Legal Learning Series, the online seminar will be presented by industry legal expert Jeffrey Greenberger. He will discuss the current status of the law, the options  options as a facility owner or manager, and issues to consider when you auction a unit in this situation.

For more information and to register for the webinar, visit www.insideselfstorage.com/webinars.

Greenberger is a partner in the law firm of Katz, Greenberger & Norton LLP in Cincinnati, where he focuses his practice on commercial real estate, with a particular concentration in self-storage. In addition to assisting facility owners and operators through legal representation and consulting, he is the legal advisor to several state self-storage associations. He is also a frequent contributor to ISS magazine and expos.

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