If you’re new to the self-storage industry, or are looking to set-up your own facility, take a look at our expert tips below.
1.Find the Right Contractor
(a) Pre-screen. Make sure your contractor is licensed, bonded, insured and in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. You can check their standing with organisations such as Inside Self Storage. This will ensure you are dealing with competent contractors who won’t waste your money.
(b) Check out their references. The best way to understand your contractor’s skills is by visiting their previous projects, talking to previous customers and asking around about their work. Experience in self-storage projects is essential, especially if you are new to the industry.
(c) Compare prices. To make sure you’re getting a good price, educate yourself on the market prices, get a list of estimates from your contractor shortlist and make sure you understand what they’re offering. If you’re on a tight budget, full-service is the best way to go.
2. Climate Controlled Units
Climate controlled units have recently increased in popularity, as customers are demanding more care towards their stored items. The heavy insulation with climate-controlled units provides an extra layer of security against stray dust and unwelcome rodents, and the high quality ventilation ensures that the air quality is optimal. Despite the higher cost, climate controlled units are a great way to attract more customers and ensure stored items don’t get damaged.
Read more about climate-controlled storage here in our previous post here: What does climate controlled storage mean?
3. Provide Great Customer Service
Respond to any inquiries as fast as possible. Customers these days expect near-immediate responses and if they don’t get that, they are much more likely to shop around and go with the company that is most responsive. It is important to ensure that those answering the calls and inquiries don’t just have excellent communication skills, but are also informed on the most relevant information concerning the business. Identify ancillary services to provide either directly or through partners, thereby providing leads with a one-stop-shop solution and greatly improving your odds at converting them into paying customers.
Choosing the right location for your self-storage sites is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. Let's take a look at the most important factors to consider.
a) Market Conditions. Ideally, you want to set up in an area that has a high demand for your service, and low supply. If there are existing self-storage facilities in the area, you need to ensure that you can offer something different, or are in a position to market your facility more effectively than your competitors.
b) Zoning. Many areas require multiple permits to set up a self-storage facility. Make sure you take a look at municipal zoning maps and regulations to identify the zoning type required for self-storage.
c) Visibility and population density. The most common way to attract customers to a self-storage facility is by making it physically visible, with many successful self-storage businesses locating themselves by high traffic roads. More recently, proximity to residential areas is becoming more important as customers seek more convenience. Focus on your branding and signage to entice new customers to check out your facility.
Keeping your facility safe and clean is important, but so is providing tenancy privacy and security.
1. Give your tenants security they can see. Alarms, cameras and code access gates are a great start, and make sure your tenants know how to use the security measures put in place.
2. Protect their personal information. Not only do tenants trust you with their belongings, but they also trust you with their personal information. Keep data encrypted by investing in the right software and understanding how they, in turn, handle your data
3. Be clear about policies. Be clear with your tenants about what is and isn’t allowed to be stored in your facilities to avoid dangerous or illegal items being stored. Make it clear at the beginning that for security reasons, you may need to enter a storage unit if you suspect a dangerous or illegal item is being stored. As long as the policies are clearly laid out and communicated at the start, you shouldn’t have an issue.
Before launching into any market, research is key. So before developing your business plan, get to know the industry, your local market, and make sure the barriers to entry are high. The last thing you want is someone else coming in and doing the exact same thing as you next door. If you haven’t yet attended industry specific self-storage events, these can be a great way of getting the bulk of information and potential supplier names in one place. Inside Self Storage, for example, hold one of the largest expos every April in Las Vegas: ISS World Expo.
As everything moves online, create a marketing campaign that revolves around creating a strong online presence. This will drive traffic to your website and convert leads into customers.
1. Create a user-friendly website. Enhance your website for SEO, by focusing on content, backlinks and keywords.
2. Invest in PPC. Pay-per-click ads (also known as PPC) is a method of buying visits to your website. The best platforms for PPC marketing are Google, where you can pay to place your website at the top of its rankings, and Facebook, where you can target your ads at potential customers.
3. Create a social media strategy. Maintaining an active social media presence can be a great way to generate attention to your brand, increase traffic to your website and engage with customers.
4. Focus on customer reviews. Online customer reviews are a free and powerful marketing tool for your self-storage business to engage with current customers, and attract new ones. An effective way of bringing in new reviews is simply asking your tenants to leave a review (through integrated chat bots or emails). This is also a great opportunity to motivate you and your team to amp up your customer-service skills and ensure you are providing the best experience possible.
Read more about marketing your storage facility in our previous post here: Marketing your Storage Facility Online
As with setting up any business, it is important to understand the fundamentals before starting out. As well as the tips above, take a look at our other blog posts to have a better understanding of industry trends, what our clients are doing, and ways to improve your business.
Related Article: 10 Metrics Every Self-Storage Business Owner Should Be Tracking