Rising rent levels, more digital tools & a positive outlook – self storage in Europe in 2021
Where does your self storage stand in comparison to your European and national competition? Let’s have a look at the results from the FEDESSA European Self Storage Annual Survey 2021.
Rent is the primary source of income for self storage, so understanding where one is in relation to the competition is vital to maximising profits. Rent levels for self storage vary across Europe to no surprise: The weighted average rent per square meter per annum in Europe lies at 268.74 EUR. This is an all-time high recorded by the survey. In comparison, the weighted average annual rent last year was 7.4% lower at 250.21 EUR. Initially, rents dipped due to the pandemic, but even at the height of the lockdowns, never by more than 3%. This once again supports the observation that self storage is an attractive and very disaster-proof investment. Italy, Portugal, and the Netherlands recorded the highest rent growths.
The distribution of rent levels across Europe is not surprising. Switzerland and the United Kingdom lead the lot. At the same time, countries with little space scarcity and lower overall rent like Poland and the Czech Republic have the cheapest self storage rental rate per square meter on the continent.
Equipment & Facilities
A few interesting trends emerge when looking at the equipment and services that self storage operators provide for their customers. Across the range, CCTV equipment is present in almost 100% of facilities. Similarly, fire detection alarms, customers’ goods insurance, and fixed electronic access control are widespread. In other words, providing these services is industry standard at this point.
To differentiate yourself from the competition and offer something unique to the customers, you will have to go further. Individual unit alarms and sprinkler systems are declining in popularity, with fewer and fewer operators offering them. This is partly because fire detection alarms are growing. 24-hour access is also falling, however, with a caveat:
More and more facilities started to offer mobile-based access systems. In other words, smart locks with Bluetooth, WiFi, or NFC unlocking mechanisms. At the same time, operators are becoming selective about their 24-hour access service. Rather than offering this as a standard feature, it is a premium service for business customers or those willing to pay for it.
In addition, several operators offer facilities and amenities to cater to their business customers - for example, meeting rooms, courier services, WiFi access, and mailboxes.
The marketing landscape of self storage is also transforming, and traditional advertising methods – directories, signs, and referrals are consistently falling. The vast majority of inquiries come from the company website. A professional digital appearance is more important than ever. Greater online functionality and sophisticated platforms were rising, but the pandemic gave the technology a big boost.
Price transparency is also on the rise. 82% of operators provide pricing information on their website. In most self storage markets, all operators show prices on their websites, with only a few upcoming markets pulling down the average. Similarly, users can reserve units on the website at an overwhelming majority of operators across Europe.
Some operators encourage customers to call or visit the facility for an in-person tour. But many are embracing novel technologies and have size calculators or virtual tours. Other popular solutions are customer service tools, like live chats or AI-powered chatbots. Because of the pandemic, all customer groups are becoming more comfortable with online tools, especially older age groups.
When it comes to booking and paying for units online or completing the contract, the picture is more divided. The mature markets have a high rate of adoption of the technology. By newer markets lag behind. It is also worth noting that operators in Poland, Portugal Italy, and Spain overall have significantly lower adoption rates of any of the technologies – less than 20%.
Last year operators considered the pandemic as the biggest threat to their business. But in 2021, the situation is different. Only 13% consider corona a significant threat to the company. In its place come oversupply, rising land costs, and planning permission difficulties in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. But overall, operators have a positive outlook on the future of self storage. 86% of self storage operators expect increased profitability and occupancy in the next 12 months.
The industry did very well in the pandemic, and the future looks optimistic. But change is on the horizon. With this information, how is your self storage performing compared to your competition? Managing self storage does not have to be complicated. With Storeganise, you can bring the newest trends to your customers today. Book a demo and find out.
Related Article: The state of the European self storage industry in 2021