Gabfocus Session | Buying & Selling Your Facility

Buying & Selling Your Facility

Discover self storage market trends, learn how to navigate the crazy growth we are seeing, and determine when it may be time to get in, get out, or stay put!

The self storage market is hot! But how do you know where you and your facility, or potential facility fit into the market? In this GabFocus session, our experts provide insight on buying, selling, and even adding value to your facility as it is.

Featured Speakers: Kris Bennett, Jane Sauls, & Matt Van Horn
Moderator:  Tommy Nguyen

Category: Development
Focus: Owners & Investors
Aired: April 8, 2022
Duration: 1:24:06


If you don't have time to watch the whole Session, here are some of our favorite parts:

  • At 11:11, Kris gives a temperature check on the self storage industry and lists the trends they have seen over the past few years
  • At 15:03, Jane provides a broker's perspective on where all of the new buyers are coming from and what that means for the self storage market
  • At 20:23, Matt compares the industry from now to where it was 5 years ago and gives insight into the future of real estate in the self storage industry
  • At 23:37, our experts share where to start when looking at buying a facility
  • At 32:07, Matt breaks down the key components of a feasibility study
  • At 35:28, Jane discusses the extraordinarily high rates we are seeing in the self storage industry
  • At 39:25, Kris shares some of the pitfalls to look out for when purchasing a self storage facility
  • At 45:02, Jane talks about selling a facility and how to decide when the time is right
  • At 49:42, Matt discusses what pitfalls typically occur when a seller goes to market with their facility
  • At 52:14, Kris shares how his company mitigates high costs in the market and how you can get the most out of your investment in self storage
  • At 58:17, Jane encourages owners to call a broker if they are thinking about selling their facility
  • At 59:39, our experts provide an incredible list of ways to add value to your self storage facility
  • At 1:07:02, our experts share what you need to have in place before purchasing your second facility
  • At 01:12:21, our experts answer the Question of the Week!


Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What’s the first thing you look at when evaluating a facility?

"What is important when evaluating a facility is looking at the potential income. The potential being where their revenue is at the moment per the market rate, and then as well as that supply in the market and how likely more supply was coming. What that facility can do, could do, will do, that potential is really important." - Jane Sauls
"The first thing we look at in a deal is the market and where the deal is located. Do I feel comfortable with that market, and I look at the demographics and supply." - Kris Bennett
"Ask yourself, do I want to be in that market and what can I do with this facility?" - Matt Van Horn

Gabfocus Takeaway

Despite the crazy market trends we are seeing in the self storage industry, there is still hope for you to get in (or out)! When buying, our experts all agreed that knowing the market you are entering and also what style of management you want to employ are two key pieces of information to gather. If it is time for you to sell, get your facility in front of as many buyers as possible by calling a broker. They are incredible resources and will know what buyers are looking for in your area. But, it may be time just to stay put, and if so, there are numerous ways you can add value to your facility sooner rather than later!

What are Gabfocus Sessions?

Gabfocus Sessions are virtual workshops for self storage owners, managers, and operators. Brought to you by the team behind Gabfest: StoragePug and Affordable Storage Guys Management.

Each session features hand-picked industry pros who will dive deep into relevant topics surrounding our industry, share best practices, and explore trends in the market. It's our hope that these sessions help you navigate your self storage business better during these uncertain times.

Want to learn more about self storage? Join us on select Thursdays for Gabfocus.

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Questions Answered in this Session

  1. What trends can we expect to see over the next year?
  2. How are different markets changing (rural vs urban)? Regional? 
  3. How are national (and international) economics affecting the storage industry?
  4. “I want to buy a facility. Where do I start?”
  5. What do you look for when scouting potential purchases?
  6. What are the most important components for evaluating a facility purchase?
  7. What goes into a feasibility study? How do you make sure the numbers are correct?
  8. What are the biggest pitfalls when buying a facility?
  9. How do you know if you should sell your facility?
  10. What are the pros and cons of selling?
  11. What are the biggest mistakes owners make when selling facilities?
  12. How do I make sure I get the most out of my investment?
  13. What are ways you can find or add value to a facility?
  14. What should be in place before I buy a second facility?
  15. What makes a portfolio attractive to future sellers?
  16. Question of the Week: What’s the first thing you look at when evaluating a facility?

Live Poll Results: What tools are most important to provide to your employees?




Meet your speakers


Jane Sauls

Sauls Storage Group


Kris Bennett


Matt Van Horn

Black Swan Storage Advisors


Got questions or comments for the panelists?

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Resources from this session

Awesome Quotes

“Once your operation is in place, you can become more dynamic with your pricing, but that requires data. You need some method of being able to record the data that you need to know whether your price is in the right place - whether you need to move it up or start giving some concessions.” - Warren Lieberman
“I never want to downplay to what someone else is doing. I'm better than they are, then I'm going to be worth a higher price. That's what value is. If you go out to a restaurant and get really good service, would you go back? Yes! What if it was pricier? You'd still go back because you got better service and a better product.” - Jim Mooney
"It's good to be informed on your competition. I don't want to ignore them, but I don't want to respond too strongly to them either." - Warren Lieberman
"We did a survey of 10,000 facilities on their pricing. We found out that two-thirds of those operators didn't change the price of a single unit of the course of a month." - Warren Lieberman
“Rate increases and value pricing are the number one ways to grow your revenue.” - Jim Mooney
"Tenants in more convenient units tend to be less price sensitive." - Warren Lieberman
"The size of the unit is only one aspect of what people are willing to pay for." - Warren Lieberman


Foundational marketing strategies to have in place - whether leasing up or stabilized:

  • Website
  • Set up listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Apple Maps)
  • Social Media
  • Establish Local Partnerships

Lease up marketing strategies:

  • Lead Generating Strategies (like digital ads)
  • Aggregators (Sparefoot, Storagefront, etc.)
  • Awareness Campaigns (like billboards, flyers, and sponsorships)

Your average customer value
Find the average stay length of all tenants. Next take your economic occupancy and divide by how many units you have. That will tell you what the average customer pays.

Multiply the average length of stay by what the average customer pays, and that's the average value of a customer.

For example, if a customer stays for 12 months and pays $100 per month, then their value is $1,200.

Your average lead value

Figure out your closing rate (or conversion rate) i.e. how many leads do you turn into tenants? Multiply that by your average customer lifetime value to figure out what your leads are worth. 

Pro Tip: see which lead sources are converting the best. It may be that certain sources have a higher conversion rate, so those leads are worth more to you than a source that barely converts.

Typical Lease-up timeline

According to our panelists, it's typical to see a 3-4% increase each month, putting your facility at 36% after the first year, and 72% after the second.

Alternately, you can look at your lease up goals through the lens of your units, aiming for 20 units rented per month.

For Nick and StorageMax, they pro forma their economic occupancy at 85% with their sweet spot at 92%.

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