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Trackgard Door-Track Protectors

Wilddeck Inc. introduced a new line of Trackgard door-track protectors to protect overhead door rails from damage from forklifts, hand trucks and heavy carts. The door-track protectors feature a black safety stripe on a bright yellow polyurethane paint finish to reduce wear and increase visibility. When properly anchored, the structural steel protectors deflect impacts from the front and sides with equal resistance. Trackgard units are available in 24-inch or 36-inch heights.  

Based in Waukesha, Wis., Wildeck is a manufacturer of mezzanines, vertical lifts and safety guarding products.   

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Live Oak Storage Expands Community-Donation Program

Live Oak Storage, a new self-storage facility in Moultrie, Ga., has expanded its community-donation program to include Colquitt County Parent-Teacher Organizations and all Colquitt County churches. Through the end of 2009, new tenants to the facility can request to donate $25 of their first month’s rent to the Packer Booster Club, the PTO or a church of their choice.
 
Facility manager Frank Wright has a long association with the Colquitt County school system. He formerly oversaw the computer lab at a local elementary school, and his wife assists with first grade at Hamilton Elementary. Their two sons attend Colquitt County High School and Willie J Middle School. For information, e-mail [email protected].

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Self-Storage Permit Overturned, Withdrawal Claimed Invalid

A permit issued for a self-storage facility in Dorset, Vt., was overturned on Aug. 31, but the vote that revoked it was invalid, per the state statute.
 
Brad Tyler is attempting to build three 20-by-100-foot self-storage buildings on his Route 30 property. The Dorset Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) overturned his permit, but because two of the board’s nine members recused themselves from the vote due to conflict of interest, there was a lack of concurrence of the majority. In an e-mail, Dorset Town Manager said the result was technically a non-decision, and the permit is, therefore, still valid.
 
The outcome of the proceedings can be appealed to the Environmental Court within 30 days.
 
Source: Bennington Banner, Denial of Tyler permit invalid, state says

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Dallas-Forth Worth Self-Storage Market Holding Occupancy Levels

Self-storage real estate experts recently reported the Dallas-Fort Worth self-storage market is appealing to a new kind of tenant in today’s challenging economic climate. In addition, more investors are eyeing the area for future self-storage development.

Minker and Trahant Associates President Tyler Trahant said many of today’s self-storage renters are families downsizing. Because these renters are already struggling, many are looking for the best deal, causing more facilities to lower their rent and offer more concessions.  

Nationwide, occupancy rates are down 2 percent to 3 percent since the recession began, according to the Self Storage Association, a nonprofit trade group.  

According to research by Cushman and Wakefield, the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA has a supply 9.62 rentable square feet per person, but a demand of only 5.42 rentable square feet per person.  Affordable and available land makes the area favorable to self-storage development, real estate experts said.

In addition, population forecasts have also led more investors to consider the Dallas-Fort Worth area for self-storage development, said Richard Minker, CEO of Minker Trahant and Associates.

Source:  Fort Worth Business Press,  Self-Storage Receives Boost During Down Times

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Locks Cut at Perry Township Self-Storage Facility

Locks were cut from four units at Pleasant Hill Self Storage in Perry Township, Pa., sometime during Aug. 28 to 31, according to a report by state police. Nothing appeared to have been stolen. There was approximately $40 in damage done to locks.
 
Source: Ellwood City Ledger, Storage locks cut

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Proven Management Services Expands Self-Storage Focus

Proven Management Services, a company providing self-storage management, consulting, training and site-analysis services, has expanded to have a nationwide focus. The company has five offices: two in Texas and one each in Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina. Its professionals have more than 45 years of combined self-storage experience.
 
PMS offers a free mystery survey that includes an on-site shop and a phone shop to give owners a preview of their team’s performance and a comprehensive plan outlining what the company can do for them. For information, visit Selfstoragemanagement.org.

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Deco Line of Bollard Covers and Handrails

Ideal Shield has created a new line of decorative bollard covers and handrail systems. Deco by Ideal Shield includes customized handrail solutions; cable, glass and aluminum options; and decorative bollard covers. The product website, Decobyidealshield.com, features project photos and complete product details.
 
Detroit-based Ideal Shield has manufactured bumper post sleeves, guardrails and handrails since 1996.

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U-Store-It Jacksonville Exhibits at Crime Prevention Expo

U-Store-It self-storage of 645 Park Street in Jacksonville, Fla., will host a booth at the Resident Community News Crime Prevention Expo on Sept. 19th. The facility will showcase its storage options, share safety tips, demonstrate use of its locking systems, and run a brief presentation on how the facility can be used to keep personal belongings secure.

The expo will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace Church. It will feature presentations by the city's top security authorities including local law enforcement.  
 
U-Store-It has five Jacksonville locations. The Park Street facility is a four-story, climate-controlled building with 24-hour security and individual unit alarms.

U-Store-It is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust with 383 company-owned facilities and the U-Store-It Network, which consists of approximately 310 additional facilities.

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Alter Closes 100th Self-Storage Sale

Bill Alter of Rein & Grossoehme Commercial Real Estate recently negotiated the sale of AAA Fort Self Storage in Sierra Vista, Ariz., for $3.6 million. The property has 115,000 net-rentable square feet in 805 storage units and 92 parking spaces for RVs and boats. The total site is 13.5 acres.
 
This sale represents Alter’s 100th successful closing of a self-storage property in his 23 years as a specialist in this property type.
 
Rein & Grossoehme specializes in the sale of investment properties and commercial leasing.

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Self-Storage Retail: Become a Merchandise-Selling, Cash-Extracting Expert

Once you have a hard-earned customer, you want to generate as much revenue from that relationship as possible. Here’s a simple and repeatable process you can use to turn yourself or your employees into merchandise-selling, cash-extracting experts.

After reading the case study below, you’ll know how to measure sales progress and set goals for improvement. You’ll be able to create a system that makes it easy to really engage customers. You’ll also be equipped to systematically help customers shop more, consider and understand merchandise, and buy more.
 
Measuring Progress and Setting Goals

When my company wanted to see how its portfolio of storage properties was performing in the area of merchandise sales, we recognized that we needed a way to track our progress. We wanted a metric that would help us not only see the progress of individual stores, but to compare one store manager to another.

Gross sales volume was the obvious place to start. However, we found it wasn’t helpful to compare the gross sales of larger stores with smaller ones, or stores that rented trucks with stores that didn’t. Effectively evaluating the performance of onsite managers across stores requires a different metric. What worked was tracking the amount of merchandise sold per move-in. This helped us focus on the manager’s contribution by the level of traffic coming through the office.

To make comparisons among stores, we separated them into two peer groups: those with rental trucks and those without. What we discovered is stores without rental trucks were selling between $8 and $13 of merchandise per move-in. This was disappointing, because it meant that, on average, we were selling less than one disc lock per move-in. With this data in hand, we were determined to do better.

We began the improvement process by meeting with our store manager. Together we reviewed her historic merchandise sales and set a goal to do better. She was motivated to try harder because she knew her performance was tracked, and the clear metric provided a scoreboard that gave her instant feedback with every transaction. Her efforts were soon rewarded with a modest increase in overall and per-move-in sales. But despite the improvement, we hadn’t yet met our goal. There was still something missing.
 
Three Big Insights to Selling More Stuff

In his book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Paco Underhill, a consultant to major retailers around the world, outlines three simple insights on how to help people buy more merchandise. The first is there is a direct correlation between the amount of time people spend shopping and the amount of money they spend. Second, people only buy the merchandise they actually look at and consider. Third, people only buy things they think they understand. If they don’t “get it,” they don’t buy it.

Think for a moment about your own experience. When you shop, you tend to pick up things and look them over. If you’re shopping for clothes, for example, you feel the fabric and hold items up to yourself. You take them into the dressing room and try them on. The longer you linger, the more you consider. The more you consider, the more you buy.

Except you don’t consider or buy things you don’t understand. Take the Web service Twitter, for example. You’ve probably heard of it because it’s received a lot of press. However, if you’re one of the many who still don’t “get it,” you probably haven’t spent any time looking into it. If your brain doesn’t understand something that’s non-threatening, it considers the item irrelevant. The last thing you want is for your merchandise to be irrelevant to customers.
 
Making It Easy To Buy

The questions we must answer are now clear: How do we get people to spend more time shopping so they will look and consider more merchandise? How do we make the merchandise easy to understand?

Here’s the process that worked for us: First, we created a coupon for one free box with the purchase of any other merchandise. The coupon is effective not because it motivates people to buy, but because it gives you the opportunity to sell.

Here’s how it works for us: Once the manager has finished moving in a new customer, she stands up and says, “Let me walk you over here for a moment,” heading to the merchandise-display area. Because the customer is in the manager’s world and sees her as the authority on things related to storage, he never hesitates to follow her wherever she leads him.

She then engages the customer, using the coupon as a means to segue the conversation from the storage transaction to a consultation about boxes and moving supplies. She hands him the coupon, saying, “I have a coupon for you for a free box,” and follows with an open-ended question such as, “How many more boxes are you going to need before you’re ready for your move?”

Now the manager becomes a helpful consultant. She knows a fair amount about what the customer is moving and storing from the conversation that surrounded the sale of the storage space, and she’s able to leverage that understanding to help him look and consider relevant products. She’s in the perfect position to direct his attention to the items he’s likely to need and buy.

For example, if the manager knows the customer will be storing a mattress, she directs his attention to the mattress covers, possibly handing him one to consider, and explains how and why they are beneficial.

Because the manager is actively involved, she’s able to demonstrate the features and benefits of the different products a customer might not understand. For example, clean newsprint is a product many self-storage locations carry, but not all customers understand its use. The manager can describe how the clean newsprint helps pack fragile items safely without marring them with ink. Further, she can actually show the customer the difference between using newspaper and clean newsprint.
 
A Sales Tool

The free-box coupon gives you a tool to engage customers easily and tactfully. With practice, it becomes easier to steer the storage transaction toward a conversation and demonstration about moving supplies.

By actively selling the merchandise, you’re able to increase the amount of time the customer spends shopping. You’re also able to direct the customer’s attention to relevant products that are then noticed and considered. Finally, you’re able to suggest and explain products with which customers may not be familiar. All of these efforts combined ensure more merchandise is sold.

If you follow this process, you’ll have a goal and a scoreboard to track progress. You and your team will be empowered to have much more influence on the buying and sales process. If your results are like ours, you’ll be selling two to three times more merchandise than before.
 
Kenny Pratt is a (self-proclaimed) sales and marketing ninja at Sacramento, Calif.-based Crescendo Properties, a self-storage investment and fee-management firm operating 15 properties in the western United States. He shares his ideas about self-storage on his blog, www.kennypratt.net. For more information, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.cpinc.us.

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