With the new year nearly upon us, it’s time to pour through the sales data from the ISS Store to see which products resonated with you in 2016. Similar to last year, product sales during the last 12 months reflect the heavy development and investment activity that continues to propel the self-storage industry. As you peruse the Top 10 hottest sellers of 2016, the list will give you some insight as to the types of information and topics your colleagues and competitors are consuming.
For the last few years, we have video recorded every concurrent education session offered during the Inside Self-Storage World Expo and offered them in DVD and on-demand video format. While purchases of on-demand video continue to increase, DVDs are still the clear winner with customers, as DVD products from the most recent expo topped our sales list for the second consecutive year.
This year, we again offered 45 individual education sessions and 10 bundled packages that mirror the concurrent tracks held during the event. Two expanded discount packages designed specifically for operators and developers/investors, respectively, are available in addition to the Total Self-Storage Solutions 2016: Education 45-Pack, which includes all of the expo’s standard education content at a significant discount. The Total Self-Storage Solutions package was once again the top seller among all DVD products. Interestingly, the Self-Storage Pricing Workshop, a standalone session presented by guru Warren Lieberman in 2015, was the No. 2 best seller, which goes to show how important managing your rental rates has become in today’s competitive environment.
2. Your Self-Storage: Planning, Site Selection, Design, Build (by Marc Goodin)3. Creating Wealth Through Self-Storage (by Mark Helm)
Our second and third top sellers drive home the list’s development theme and are once again the store’s top two book titles, jumping from Nos. 6 and 7 last year. Marc Goodin’s digital book has been the store’s top-selling book three years in a row. It contains 150 ideas geared to ensure designing and planning success for self-storage projects.
After a strong debut on the list last year, “Creating Wealth” continued to draw strong interest from current self-storage operators as well as those interested in entering the business. Written by real estate agent and self-storage investor Mark Helm, the book is available in a softcover version and downloadable PDF, and provides tips on how to find desirable self-storage properties, analyze risk and compete against well-funded investors. The book works as a companion to Storage World Analyzer, a cloud-based, financial-analysis software designed by Helm to help self-storage operators and investors evaluate potential real estate acquisitions or development projects. The book includes information on how Helm uses the Analyzer software to enhance his buying analysis.
Released by ISS in March, the “Self-Storage Manager Compensation Survey” was the first of its kind for the industry. It features data collected from 471 facility managers and helps create industry benchmarks related to manager salaries, wages, benefits and other incentives. The package offered by the store includes a 69-page data report and a 15-page booklet focused on compensation and related topics.
Our annual fall release of the ISS Top-Operators List, which ranks by square-footage the Top 100 operators in self-storage, continues to resonate with investors, developers, owners and suppliers. Similar to the 2015 package, the 2016 Top-Operators List product includes an Excel spreadsheet featuring data on the Top 100, a PDF report examining movement within the rankings, and a full presentation of the list in an easy-to-read format. For the second consecutive year, we’ve included additional data on owned vs. managed self-storage facilities for each company, with breakouts for number of facilities, units and square footage for each.
The annual Guidebook Series continues to be very popular, offering critical information and tips on self-storage ownership, facility management, marketing, building, investing, and ancillary products and services. For the first time, the 2016 series included a choice between digital and softcover publications available individually or in discounted packages containing all three Guidebooks.
Last week, we released the 2017 Guidebook Series, which again includes a choice between digital or softcover publications. The new series contains two Guidebooks, consolidating management and ownership topics into a robust Facility-Operation Guidebook in addition to the very popular Building/Investing Guidebook. As always, the series focuses on critical aspects of self-storage ownership, management and development.
“Crush Your Competition” jumps three spots from last year and is the second book on the list written by civil engineer and self-storage owner Marc Goodin. Available in a softcover version as well as PDF format, the book explains how to optimize simple marketing tactics and ideas with minimal cost for maximum earnings. It contains tools for new startups that have more energy than money and was also written for established businesses looking for fresh ideas.
Released at the close of 2015, the Self-Storage Maintenance Package was designed specifically for facility managers and includes detailed, customizable monthly calendars outlining tasks by day, week and season. It also includes a 41-page digital booklet with expert advice on industry-related maintenance.
Now available, the 2017 package continues with the customizable monthly calendars and an expanded, 50-page booklet. Since many of the articles in the booklet repeat from last year, we’ve also released a special Self-Storage Monthly Maintenance Task Calendars 2017 offering, which contains just the 12 individual task calendars for 2017 in PDF format and customizable monthly templates in Microsoft Word. Similar to last year, the customizable Word templates allow managers to alter the calendars to fit their particular maintenance schedule and needs.
9. Self-Storage Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Reports
Cushman & Wakefield’s (C&W) quarterly MSA reports were among our most popular items from the moment we launched the ISS Store. Though C&W ceased selling its industry-performance reports in February, strong sales through the first two months of the year were enough to land its MSA reports in the Top 10 again this year. We have received many customer inquiries asking about a possible replacement, and we have continued to speak with potential partners throughout the year. We have made significant progress in recent weeks and hope to have an announcement regarding a new slate of market-data offerings shortly after the New Year.
Rounding out the Top 10, this special DVD package is an immersive program featuring insider tips and insight to self-storage development. Designed for investors and developers interested in entering the industry as well as existing operators planning expansion, the package contains six DVDs offering 6.5 hours on feasibility, financing, new construction, conversions, renovations and boat/RV storage. Though recorded in 2014, the content remains viable and offers essential, expert advice for anyone interested in self-storage building and investment.
Product Spotlight: Self Storage [Horror Fiction Novel]
This year also saw us release our first fictional work, a chilling tale by author Jay Bonansinga, best known for penning the official “The Walking Dead” novel series. Published this year by Magnetik Ink, the book centers on Johnny Fitzgerald, a lonely, divorced graphic illustrator with a major heroin habit. When Johnny accidentally gets trapped inside a deserted self-storage facility with his 6-year-old son, he’s forced to face demons both real and imagined.
We plan to add to our mix of fun products in 2017, so stay tuned for an upcoming announcement regarding another fictional work that we expect to release in January.
As always, we’re constantly looking to develop new educational products that will help operators run their businesses more effectively and profitably. If there’s a type of product you’d like to see added to the ISS Store or a business topic you’d like to see addressed within our content offerings, please let us know in the comment section below.
For all of us at ISS, I wish you a healthy, exciting and prosperous New Year.