ISS BLOG – As Wise as an Owl: Expert Advice for All Self-Storage Operators From the ISS World Expo

We can all use some inspiration from time to time. The following offers some “wise” advice from the Women In Storage Education event at this week’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas.

Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

April 5, 2024

4 Min Read

This week was the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas. The annual event attracts thousands of self-storage professionals including property and district managers, owner-operators, new and established investors, developers, and an array of vendors. One of the most fascinating aspects of the show to me is that everyone is on their own unique journey. I spoke with dozens of people over the last few days and heard some amazing stories. Some were new to self-storage while others had been in it for decades. A common theme, however, is there’s always something new to learn, so that’s why they made the trip.

In addition to education, a packed exhibit hall and tons of networking opportunities, ISS hosted Women In Storage Education, nicknamed WISE, on Tuesday. We first introduced this new program last year, and it was a smash, so we invited a new batch of wonderful women to share their stories and advice. Although WISE is only for women, some of what was said can really apply to anyone. Consider this “wise” advice from our moderator and panelists, who collectively have more than 150 years of self-storage experience, that resonated with me.

You must work hard. This might seem like a given, but there are many, many entitled people who simply think any amount of effort should be enough. It isn’t. I’m not pointing fingers at any generation as we can find examples in all age groups.

The fact is if you want to be successful at anything, you have to work for it. This means learning it, practicing and refining your skills. Read books, listen to podcasts and watch webinars. Find resources that can help you enhance your abilities such as the expo seminars that are available in the ISS Store.

You need a mentor. Call it your role model, trainer … whatever. We all need to learn from someone or, sometimes, many people. There’s always going to be someone in the room who’s smarter or has more experience. Rather than be offput by this, what can you learn from them?

Finding a mentor is even more critical when you’re new to the self-storage industry. Whether you’re building or buying, hoping to become a property manager or move up the corporate ladder, find someone who can guide you and be your cheerleader. We all need support.

You need to network. This is a tough one for some people who simply aren’t adept at making connections. Even if you’re a social person, creating a network of allies can be a challenge. So, start small. If you’re a property manager, try attending a local chamber or other community event. Find a group for business professionals. Facebook has tons! Join the ISS Self-Storage Talk online community and meet others in the industry. Attend a state association event or the next ISS World Expo!

If you’re an investor, find like-minded people or peruse online social discussion groups. If you’re an owner-operator, visit some of your competitors or even facilities a bit further away from your site and introduce yourself. One of our WISE panelists said to “seek people who are doing what you want to do.” You never know from where your next opportunity will come.

Celebrate your successes. This includes both the big and small ones. It’s so easy to ruminate on our failures or mistakes, but most of us have wins every day. Perhaps you were able to resolve a problem with a customer. Maybe you refinanced your loan and received a good rate because you established a great relationship with your lender. Or you had an idea on how to save money on a development. Not every accomplishment will deserve a gold medal, but a bronze one is noteworthy, too. (By the way, I’m giving myself a gold star for writing this blog after a long show week!)

Face your challenges. We live in a world where it’s often easier to give up rather than persevere. One of my favorite words is fortitude. It means “strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.” We each face an abundance of challenges every day. I know people who’d rather whine about them, and I know those who say, “OK, I can do this.” Which one are you? Hopefully, you’re the kind who doesn’t give up and figures it out. In the words of one panelist, “Take a step. Take a deep breath and go.”

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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