6 Steps to More Freedom in Your Self Storage Business

Do you want more freedom in your self storage business? Do you find yourself working at your self-storage business more than you expected? If you have a manager, do you wonder if he or she is keeping you fully in the loop?

Do you want to be able to relax, knowing that your business is taken care of? Do you want the freedom to take extended trips and not worry?  

Here are a few ways to achieve more freedom in your self-storage business:

  1. Have procedures – You need company procedures on basic operations: answering the phone, start of day, end of day, how to show a unit, renting units, collecting payment, making deposits, cleaning schedule, policy on refunds, policy on waiving late fees, etc.
  2. Have a manual – If you don’t have the procedures documented and gathered in an organized way (like a manual), and then you are basically letting your employees guess how you want your business run.
  3. Hire Quality People – There is no replacement for a good manager....
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Revenue Management – Step 3: Rate increases

Few things worry a self storage owner more than rate increases. You worked so hard to get the tenants to sign the lease and move their stuff into your facility, and now you are worried that there will be mass exodus the second the rate increases hit their mailboxes. Did you know that most rate increases only yield a 1% move-out?

Most owners worry about the mass exodus that never happens, and while they are worrying, they aren’t increasing rates, which means they’re losing money. How much money can you afford to lose before you finally decide to increase rates?

Here are some tips if you are ready to increase your rates.

  1. Make a list

Most storage programs have automatic rate increases, which allows you to set a certain level of increase each month and not worry about it. Everything that I have ever read on rate increases preaches a standard increase across the board, no matter who the tenant is. I see the value in this recommendation because it removes the personal...

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Revenue Management - Step 2: Prospect Management

Revenue Management – Step 2: Prospect Management

Prospect Management involves pricing the customer along with the storage unit. This takes a great deal of salesmanship and may not be easy for all managers to accomplish, but if you can do it right, you can add a lot of money to your bottom line. To begin understanding prospect management, you need to answer the following questions:

Who – Who is the prospect?

Is the prospect a businessman who has a company account and can handle a higher price? Is he a college student on a budget?

When – When will they begin storing items, and how long will they stay? If the prospect is starting right away, urgency is high and she may tolerate a higher price. If she isn’t starting for 3 months, she may have some time to price shop and would be less likely to pay a premium.

What – What will they be storing? Is he storing Grandma’s antiques, and you have the only climate-controlled facility with great security?...

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Revenue Management - Step 1: Renting units for what they're worth

Revenue management is not just sending out rate increase letters when your bank account gets low.

Revenue management is the process of getting every dollar out of your storage facility that the market will allow. It’s an overall strategy of effectively managing potential and actual revenue to maximize return, encompassing competition review, market analysis, pricing, facility assessment, and staff participation.

The first step in proper revenue management is renting your storage units for what they are worth when the tenant first moves in. The price of each unit depends on availability of that size, demand for your units, urgency of the rental, and method of rental. Regarding method of rental, there are three touch points where customers will experience your facility before they become a tenant.

  1. Website

Most people will go online to check out your facility before they stop by or call. If you don’t have a website, get one. If you have a website, you have to decide...

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How to rent more storage units

What do you do if you need to rent more storage units? How do you get more move-ins?

Let say a self storage business owner, we’ll call him, “John,” built a self storage facility, thinking that it would fill up within a year. Two years later, he was stuck at 45% occupancy. His manager and weekend employee were nice enough, and the phone rang every time he was in the office, but John wasn’t seeing the results he wanted.

John decided to start tracking the number of phone calls his office received, compared to the number of his move-ins, and he realized that he was only converting 15% of his calls to move-ins. He didn’t know what the problem was. He had already cut rates, run ads, added specials, and put new banners in front of his facility. But how could he convert more phone calls to move-ins? How could he rent more storage units?

If John were my customer, I would coach him through implementing the 5 steps to a good self storage phone call. It’s...

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Revenue, Profit and Cash: Is my self storage business making any money?

Have you heard the saying, “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality”? Nearly all business owners have, but most aren’t entirely sure what it means, and that’s okay. Self Storage business owners need to understand the difference to make sure their facility is making money. Let’s break this down right now, and you’ll be wiser than most of your competition.

Revenue is Vanity: Revenue is the top line on your income statement. For a storage business, it is normally the cumulative amount of rent, inventory sales, and truck rentals. Rental income is usually the largest number in the revenue section, since that is your main business. Seeing a large monthly rental income number and a high occupancy rate can make you feel like your storage business is a success, since you are mostly full and the hard work of marketing and breaking even is over, but don’t let vanity block your view. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Are you charging...
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5 simple ways a self-storage manager can quickly rent more units

Do you need to increase your occupancy rate? Use these 5 easy tips to rent more self storage units.

1) Give the move-in price, not the monthly rate

When potential customers call your facility and ask for the price of your 10x10 unit, instead of simply answering, “The monthly rate is $99,” differentiate your facility by starting a conversation.

Manager: “When would you like to move in?”

Tenant: “Saturday”

Manager: “Your rent for this month would be $39, then $99 each month after that. What is your name and phone number so that I can hold a unit for you until you can sign the rental agreement?”

Most storage software has a pro-rate feature built in to easily calculate the pro-rated move-in rate. If your software doesn’t, simply use the move-in feature to get the rate, and then cancel the move-in.

2) Ask for tenants

Do you have a referral program? Offer your tenants a free month if they refer a friend. Referral programs are an easy...

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Why do I need a Self Storage Audit?

audits self storage audit Jan 10, 2018

Your self-storage facility is making money, your manager is nice and has been with you for years, your financial statements always look strong, so why do you need a self storage audit?

An operational audit is a deeper dive into your processes. In 100% of audits that I perform, I find ways to make the company run better.

Sometimes these are little tweaks, but sometimes they are massive overhauls. I once found an owner an extra $4,000/month!

Here are 5 reasons why your business needs a self storage audit:

  • Reassurance that all your money is going into your bank account
  • Confidence that all your units are being rented properly
  • Knowledge that all your processes are being followed correctly
  • To have your staff training assessed by a professional
  • To see your facility and management with a fresh pair of eyes
  • To empower your manager to be the best that she can be

Your self storage businesses may need an audit if

  • You, the owner, have never performed an audit, yourself
  • You always lets the...
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Top 5 Mistakes found in a Self Storage Audit

audits self storage audit Jan 10, 2018

To make sure your business is financially sound, you should have a random facility audit performed on a regular basis, ideally quarterly. Self Storage Audits should be performed by someone outside of daily management, either a professional consultant or an owner. Letting your manager audit her own work is the same as letting a student grade her own test. What are the chances she’d get less than an A+?

When I perform a self storage audit, here are the top 5 mistakes I find:

  1. Overlocks performed incorrectly

Every facility should have a policy on when overlocks are placed on late units. This usually happens on the 6th of the month. No matter what day you pick, late units should be overlocked on the same day of each month, and locks should be placed on all late units. When I perform a facility audit, I check that all late units are properly overlocked, to ensure late tenants can’t simply open their unit and move out of your facility without paying their rent. When I first...

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What should I expect during a self storage audit?

audits self storage audit Nov 23, 2017

“Audit” is a scary word. I am hesitant to even use it because it makes me feel like the IRS coming to get you. I promise, I’m not scary, but I am thorough. So what should you expect during a self storage audit?

I use audits as a tool to find the errors in your business and fix them.

The point of an audit is to make the manager’s job easier and to give the owner a sense of comfort that his multi-million dollar investment is being run properly.

An audit isn’t about beating managers over the head for little mistakes. It isn’t about telling managers how to do their job. It isn’t about coming into a business as the all-knowing diva and pouncing all over their hard work.

I was once a manager of a self storage business. I know how hard the job is, and I truly believe that most self storage employees are honest, hard-working people, who want to do a good job for their boss and make their tenants’ lives easier. It’s true that some people...

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