Why You Should Join the Self Storage Association

December 6, 2023

Hand holding the Self Storage Association business card
4 min

“Just join the SSA!”

This little nugget of advice can get repetitive, especially if you hear it every time you ask a question about self storage. 

The problem is, whoever’s giving you that advice might just be right.

Is joining the Self Storage Association going to solve all your problems? No. But almost every storage operator should join it anyways.

The SSA has decades of experience in the industry, and whatever problem you’re facing, they have no doubt seen it before - and know exactly how to address it.

It can provide members with legal advice, documents like a rental agreement, conferences for education and networking, and a place to go whenever you get stuck. 

The SSA also lobbies lawmakers for the self storage industry - think removing the requirement that storage unit auctions have to be posted in local newspapers.

If those aren’t reason enough to join, we’re going to go over the three biggest benefits self storage operators get from joining your Self Storage Association!

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Get a Legal Rental Agreement

Who wrote your rental agreement? For a lot of operators, the answer is I did!

Now, storage owners have to wear a lot of hats - but keep the lawyering hat in the cupboard.

Even if your rental agreement has worked so far, the danger presented by having an amateur agreement is pretty serious. You’d only need one tenant to take you to court over some circumstance you hadn’t considered for your self-made rental agreement to become a six-figure disaster.

We chatted with Joe Doherty, chief legal officer at the SSA, and one of the biggest legal problems he sees self storage operators running into is trying to save money on rental agreements.

Why You Should Join the Self Storage Association3

“Don’t go cheap. You have a multimillion-dollar investment - spend a few thousand dollars to make sure your rental agreement has what the state requires”

Lots of operators will ask a legal-minded acquaintance to draft a rental agreement, but Joe strongly recommends hiring a specialized self storage lawyer. The risks of getting it wrong are just too high to go with a cheap option.


Many state self storage associations will have a rental agreement that members can use for their business! That cost alone will outweigh the membership dues for a long, long time. 

Because states are so different, the national association can’t just give members a boilerplate agreement that works everywhere, but your state association knows the specifics for your area. 

Learn about industry and consumer trends and expectations! 

Get Advice from Your Fellow Operators

No one knows the industry like long-time owners. And, no matter how experienced you are, there’s always something new to learn!

The national and local storage associations are the best place to find people who have been where you are and solved the problems you’re facing.

They’re also a great resource for learning what not to do

You may be wondering if a particular gate company is worth the investment or if customers care enough about smart units to pay more for them. Rather than spending ten thousand dollars to find out, you can just ask someone who’s done it before!

One of the best things about being in self storage is that people are so happy to help one another. Even other operators in your city aren’t truly competition unless they’re within five or ten minutes of your facility.

Because of this (and because they’re all just nice folks), you can get honest answers from operators facing nearly identical conditions. Is demand dropping? Is the self storage industry headed for a recession? Should I get a website? (Yes). Is StoragePug the right website company for my business? (Not necessarily!)

Not all the advice will match your business - but it’s better than going into a new endeavor blind!

Self Storage Conferences

Conferences are the next level of getting advice from forums and fellow operators.

Lots of state associations put on big trade shows so you can see all the best and brightest new technologies, legal challenges, rental strategies, etc. etc. 

Of course, most people go to the conferences so they can hang out with these guys :IMG_9516

But there are solid business reasons to attend your local storage association conferences too. 

Industry experts give talks about challenges that operators face, businesses pitch their newest innovations, and you can build relationships with your fellow operators that will stick with you as long as you’re in the business.

The national SSA has two annual conferences - one in the fall and one in the spring. These change location (though there’s almost always one in Las Vegas), so attending could be difficult depending on how far away you are. But your state association conference, while smaller, will almost certainly be closer!

The benefit of these conferences to your business is mostly in information. You’ll learn how the industry is changing, what the new standard is, and what problems you’re going to be facing. 

Without good information, you can’t make good decisions, and if you’re not making good decisions, your business could be in trouble.

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These are just three of the big reasons you should join the SSA - and your state association, too. 

Many storage operators depend on the SSA as their biggest source for legal advice (and legal help) when it comes to their business. The SSA also works to improve the conditions in the industry by lobbying lawmakers.

The SSA is the reason many states no longer require you to post ads in the newspaper every time a customer defaults on their unit. They’re the reason some of you don’t have to send certified mail when an email works just as well.

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re required to notify a tenant of the lien process via certified mail… I recommend joining the SSA. They’ll be able to help you out!

Check out these posts if you’re interested in getting more out of your marketing:

Tips for Self Storage Rental Agreements
Customizable Lien Sale Form
Slow Market or Bad Marketing?

At StoragePug , we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

Want to know what your customers are looking for?

Check out our Customer Trends & Expectations!

Customer Trends 2023 - Cover