5 Ways to Keep Up With Self Storage Competition

September 26, 2023

self storage competition
7 min

Self Storage is a crowded industry, with more facilities across the country than any fast food chain, even more than Starbucks, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's combined in the states, there’s a lot of competition compared to the average market. 

So how do you keep up with such a saturated market? Odds are, your competition is only just down the street, or the next block over. 

Comparing yourself to your competitors is a great way to find out if your facility is as profitable as it can be, and to learn what they’re doing right that you’d never thought of, or even to learn that you’re the one doing something right!

Competition doesn’t have to be a contest, it can also be a measuring tool.

Defining the competition

Defining your competition, or who your competitors are, is the first step when measuring yourself against them. 

But who is your competition? Is it the mom-and-pop down the street, or is the U-Haul across town? The answer may vary!

The first thing to think about when you think of competition is proximity. Who’s closest to you? A lot of operators could be completely surrounded by other facilities, and weeding out competition is difficult. 

Remember, you’re not competing against the whole city.

One of the best ways to know who you’re competing with is to search “storage units near me” and see who pops up. Are you at the top of the search? Even if the answer is yes (congrats!) then your competition is still the people who are placing near you. The Google page is prime real estate.

It’s important to note, you should be searching online when you’re at your actual facility. Google uses a local search, and unless you’re stationed in Brooklyn, you’re probably not trying to compete with the facility on the other edge of town. Be sure that the people in your area are seeing your name when they’re looking for units!

Distance isn’t the only consideration, though, when it comes to pinpointing your competition. Amenities, facility condition, and prices are all factors that play into your competition. 

If your facility is solely drive-up units, you may not really be competing with the all-indoor facility just down the road. 

Or if your facility is brand new, and shining clean you may not be competing with the 40-year-old facility that has a mattress leaned up against the gate. 

Amenities are instrumental in finding your competition, because you may be the only close-by facility that offers document storage, but there’s another facility 8 miles down the road that’s offering it as well, that’s your competition.

Defining who you’re competing with is a sliding scale, and it depends on a lot of things.

Factors to define your competition:

  • Nearby facilities
  • Top Google rankers
  • Facilities with similar amenities
  • Others at your price point

Ways to measure your competition


Once you’ve defined who your competition is, it’s time to do a deep dive into their digital footprint. See what a future tenant sees, like their website, their Google Business Profile, or even their social media presence.

When you look at their website, is it easy to navigate? Put yourself in the shoes of a customer, and ask the question: “Is this website cleaner and easier to use than mine?” If the answer is yes, then it may be time to update your website.

For example, if you can see that another facility has clear, updated pictures but yours are a decade old, it may be time to hire a photographer. 

Make sure that all of your information is uniform across the internet, that your pictures are clear and updated, and that you make rentals as easy as possible for your future tenants. 

One way that your competitor may be ranking more highly over you is that they have better SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s both a very simple and frustratingly complex thing to measure, but essentially, does the content on your website let people know that you’re a local facility? 

SEO is about telling search engines who you are and what you offer. It’s really not rocket science, either. It can be as simple as mentioning self storage in your headlines, or mentioning your neighborhood and surrounding communities somewhere in the content. Just help engines like Google know who you are, where you are, and what you offer!

Branding is also worth noting. Your facility should have a color scheme, a logo, and a recognizable online presence. Not only does this help people who physically pass your facility get familiar with your brand, it makes your website set you apart in their minds when shopping around.

Keeping up with virtual appearances is equally essential to maintaining your curb appeal! 

My digital footprint should be:

  • User-friendly
  • Clean and updated
  • Accurate and uniform
  • Good SEO
  • Recognizably branded


One metric to measure yourself against the competition is amenities. If you’re the only facility within four miles that doesn’t offer digital locks, it may be time to switch to digital locks. 

Your competitors often invest in these uncommon amenities because they’ve found a market for them! Does this mean you should upgrade your facility to match the brand-new place down the street? Definitely not.

If your facility doesn’t have half of the amenities as the one down the road, then maybe they aren’t your competitors. 

If it’s close and you offer the same things, that’s the competitor. 

Just be sure you don’t miss out on a market you didn’t know was there! A unique amenity can be the difference between a click and a rental. 

Ways to highlight your amenities:

  • Online website video
  • Highlighting in SEO
  • Dedicated website pages
  • Pictures on Google Business Profile
New call-to-action


When your community thinks of self storage, who do they think of? If the answer isn’t you, it might be time to step up your marketing game.

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to marketing, but these quick essentials are a great starting point. 

Our biggest piece of advice is this: make sure your community sees you. That can mean a lot of things: make sure you have a strong website, good signage, or even local sponsorships. The odds are if you aren’t already doing these things, the facility a mile away is. 

It’s easy to get carried away when you hear “marketing,” conjuring images of commercials, radio spots, and billboards. For self storage, it’s a little bit different. Sure, a billboard might be a good idea if your facility is harder to find, but it’s certainly not essential.

Do something more practical, like sponsor the local little league team. You can hang your signs on the sidelines, and your community will start to associate you with self storage, and also with the community itself!

Marketing really has no limits, but start where you are, your hometown or city. 

Here are some of the ways your competition might be out-marketing you:

  • Updated, clean website
  • More signage/visibility
  • Hosting community events
  • Strong select social media presence (like Facebook)
  • Cause marketing efforts

Rates and Occupancy

How often do you check other facilities’ rates? If the answer is never, you could be missing out on some serious revenue! 

Knowing where you stand in comparison to those around you helps you know if you should be charging less, or in a lot of cases, more for your units. You may have loyal tenants, but if your competition is filling units at a much higher rate, then it’s time to charge more.

This doesn’t mean you have to hike up your prices on your tenants! But a small increase and a higher street rate will make your facility more profitable and more expensive to potential investors. 

One of the easiest ways to learn about local rates is by using rate-tracking software like StorTrack, which gives you live rate tracking from competitors in easy-to-use software. It shows you live prices of facilities nearby and gives you side-by-side comparisons. Not only does software like this show you rates, but it also shows you the occupancy of other facilities. It’s that easy!

Another simple way to check on competitors’ rates is to simply check their websites. With the rise of online rentals, it’s never been easier to check out what local street rates are. 

If you’re seeing a significant deficit between your rates and your competitors, and their units are just as occupied as yours, then it’s time to make a change. 

Not checking in on the competition can be a check left on the table.

Easiest ways to check on competitor’s rates:

  • Rate-tracking software
  • Checking their website
  • Following social media
  • Calling up asking

Building a relationship

If you really want to keep up with the competition, the easiest and most cost-effective way to do that is by getting to know your competitors!

They may be the competition, but self storage is a friendly industry, and in most cases, there are plenty of tenants to go around. Building relationships with neighboring facilities is a free, even enjoyable, way to keep up with industry trends, local shifts, and where you stand.

Not sure how to start a relationship with your competitors?

Breaking the ice can be intimidating, but there are some easy ways to get on their good side! For example, send a fruit basket, or even better, stop by in person with something like cookies or a small gift. Once you extend the olive branch, the odds are your competitors will accept, because you have to remember, they’re in the same boat as you.

Don’t want to do any of that? Then just call! 

The odds are, they want to talk to you too, the only way to initiate is by initiating. Improve your business, and make friends in the process. 

Not only could you make some new friendships, you could make a partnership. If you’ve got full capacity on your 5x5s, but that facility down the street you now know has availability, send the disappointed customer their way! 

One of the benefits of making friends with the facilities you’re competing with is that you can easily make an unofficial (or official) referral program. 

Benefits of building a relationship with competition:

  • Mutual referrals
  • Rental rates info
  • Occupancy info
  • Staying up on industry trends
  • Sharing operational tips

Being competitors doesn’t mean enemies!

Remember, we’re all in this together, and having close ties to other local stores will give you the edge you need to compete with the REITs.

Just because you have competitors doesn’t mean there’s a first prize, it just means that you’re just most likely not the only facility for miles. 

Be proactive about your market, learn what works for others, and adjust accordingly. Comparison may be the thief of joy, but it’s also the driver of progress!

For more self storage articles, take a look at:

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Customer Trends 2023 - Cover