The 4 Ds of Self Storage Demand 

The 4 Ds of self storage combine to be the most stable and reliable customer markets for the self storage businesses. In this article, we outline and dissect what they are.

self storage demand

Customer Markets For Storage Business

Self storage has seen a rise in demand over the past few years and is needed now more than ever. However, it’s also important to remember what some self storage experts call the 4Ds of self storage: death, displacement, and divorce. These four combine to be the most stable and reliable customer markets for self-storage businesses. While an important driver of new business, these four factors are stressful, and often painful experiences for your customers, so it’s important to give your customers the best service. We’ll outline the main ways for your business to help your tenants who are going through a difficult time.

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A tenant going through a divorce can lead to many logistical challenges. As it often leads to a splitting of the household, there will be disputes as to who has claim over items in a shared storage unit. You might even encounter spouses attempting to steal items from one another within their unit. Divorce is filled with negativity, so while you can’t ease your customer’s hardship, the least you can do is to make sure your processes protect the tenant, as well as making your services accessible and simple, minimising your customers’ frustration.

The most important consideration legally is to have an up-to-date and accurate lease that is compliant with the relevant laws and regulations. Make sure you know who’s name is on the lease and are clear on who is able to access the unit. As mentioned, spouses may sometimes attempt to clear or take items from the unit with ill intentions. A clear line of communication between both sides will ensure you have the proper procedures to protect your tenant’s belongings, as well as making the process as simple and stress-free as possible.


The death of a family member or close friend is devastating. Many people approach self storage services to ease the strain on dealing with the aftermath of a loved one passing away, mostly needing to store their possessions while their estate is dealt with. In handling a customer going through a loss, be sure that your customer service is extra compassionate and that your actions express empathy. The little things definitely make a difference, so a card expressing condolences on move-in or a similar gesture will go a long way in making the process easier for your customer.

On the legal side of things, there are several things to consider. Again, it’s vitally important your lease is up to date. You must know who is able to access the unit and who can terminate the lease. Their possessions may sometimes include items that are worth a lot to the customer, so make sure your units are well-equipped to ensure their items are stored correctly.


The third main driver of self storage demand is downsizing, where the customer is voluntarily moving into a smaller space. While this is perhaps less traumatic of a time for the customer, compared to the rest of the factors, moving is still a stressful process. A large part of this demand are students moving away for the summer, or families downsizing their homes.

To cater to their needs, create moving packages in your storefront so customers can easily come in, bring what they need to pack, and have it stored. As well as discount deals and special price packages, you could also include moving supplies with your unit rentals. Offering moving trucks is also another way to increase convenience.

Read more about offering moving trucks


The final driver is displacement, which is similar to downsizing but with a key difference, the customer is not choosing to move to a smaller place, and it is involuntary. While the services you offer for a customer that’s been displaced will be similar to those you offer customers that are downsizing, from a customer service perspective, it’s vital that you and your staff treat the customer with more care and kindness. Displacement for whatever reason will mean your customer is going through extreme stress as well as an emotional time, so ensure that your company is prepared to help them get through this tough time by eliminating one aspect that’s giving them stress.

While the 4Ds of self storage can make up a large portion of the demand for your company’s services, it’s important to remember that the customer is going through something terrible and also extremely stressful. Make sure your staff is well-trained to handle these situations, and your service makes the experience as stress-free as possible. All of this will make your business run better, but more importantly, give your customers a positive experience which they are likely to share with other potential renters.

self storage checklist

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