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Gabfocus | Gabfocus 2020 Review

Gabfocus |Ask Us Anything: Meet Your Hosts

2020 has been a wild year, but Gabfocus has been a huge highlight! This one was a little different. Instead of having our speakers focus on one topic, we brought in as many experts as we could to share about what they've learned this year and some good news from the industry.

Featured Speakers: Stephanie Tharpe, Jim Mooney, Denise Bowley, & Scott Zucker
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Marketing & Operations
Focus: Owners and Managers
Aired: December 10, 2020
Duration: 1:06:47


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

  • At 3:17, Stephanie talks about the biggest challenges her managers faced this year and the changes that they plan on sticking with
  • At 10:58, Stephanie gives us some good news from the industry - move outs are down, occupancy is up, and new builds aren't slowing down
  • At 14:00, Jim talks about the new tech his team used this year and reports that his online rentals jumped up to 39% of his total rentals this year
  • At 17:15, Jim talks about how his customers have react to the changes and limitations of this year
  • At 19:26, Jim reminds us the self storage is a stable industry and that the technological updates we've seen are here to stay
  • At 26:30, Denise shares the trends she found across her facilities and clients this past year
  • At 28:30, Denise reflects on how her responsibility to her employees has grown this year
  • At 32:00, Denise talks about how self storage has been recession-proof, pandemic-proof, and will be able to weather whatever changes come next
  • At 38:20, we bring all our experts out to answer Live Q&As about late payments during COVID, frozen gate reflectors, and collections
  •  At 45:45, our experts answer the Question of the Week about their priorities for 2021 (you can also read their answers below)
  • At 53:40, our favorite legal expert, Scott Zucker, shares his thoughts on what we've learned this year about our facilities, our customers, our industry, and ourselves

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What’s one of your biggest priorities for 2021?

"One of my biggest priorities is to focus on contactless leasing. This will in no way replace the manager, but we don't know what's going to happen over the next five years. I want all of our facilities to be able to rent units 100% contactless. To do that, we'll need manager training and that's going to take time." - Denise Bowley
"Our big goal is to expand and try to buy some more facilities. There's a lot of opportunity right now because a lot of smaller 'mom and pop' facilities weren't prepared for this year and are looking to get out of storage. So my biggest goal is to be in acquisition mode." - Jim Mooney
"We're just excited about growing! Our management company is taking on five new facilities and our storage company is wrapping up three builds in the first Quarter. So, focusing on growth but also on continuing to make our operations digital and online rentals as easy as possible." - Stephanie Tharpe

Gabfocus Takeaway

This Session was about more than self storage. It was a reminder that we're all human, that we need each other, and that we should cherish the moments and opportunities that we have. On a more practical side, we were reminded that self storage continues to be a robust, resilient industry and that embracing technology is a crucial way to be prepared for whatever the future brings. We're so thankful for an amazing 2020 Gabfocus Season, and we can't wait for more next year. Happy holidays to all!

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 MR 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 are the biggest changes you saw managers have to make this year?
  2. What are things that you have learned in working with your employees through a pandemic that you will carry into the future?
  3. Did you discover an area that you were weak in that you didn’t know about before? Or an area of strength that you didn’t realize was there?
  4. Did you use any creative tech or strategies to increase or maintain occupancy this year?
  5. Were you fully prepared for the tech necessary to navigate the 2020 shutdown?
  6. What areas did you find needed adjustments?
  7. How did you customer base react to changes that this year has brought about?
  8. How did the self storage industry perform this year? Was it hurt by COVID? Did it stay consistent?
  9. In your audits and reports this year were there any trends you saw? Any surprises?
  10. What's one of the biggest changes you made this year at the facilities you manage? Will you carry it into the future?
  11. What's the biggest lesson you learned this year?
  12. Do you have any good news to share from the self storage industry?
  13. What’s one of your biggest priorities for 2021?

These are just a few of the questions answered during this session! Get your pen and paper ready!

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




Meet your speakers


Stephanie Tharpe

A+ Management Group

Website: https://www.aplusmanagementgroup.com
Email: stharpe@aplusmanagementgroup.com

Jim Mooney

Freedom Storage Management

Website: https://freedomstoragemanagement.com
Email: jmooney@freedomstoragemanagement.com

Denise Bowley

Self Storage Science

Website: https://selfstoragescience.com
Email: denise@selfstoragescience.com

Scott Zucker


Website: https://www.wzlegal.com
Email: scott@wzlegal.com

Got questions or comments for the panelists?

Our panelists will be happy to answer any questions you have. We hope you enjoyed this Gabfest Session. Talk soon!

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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

Question of the Week

We asked our panelists: What’s the biggest hurdle to introducing value pricing to my facility?

““Manager buy-in is going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. ” - Jim Mooney
“Embracing the concepts and believing that this can really work. If you don't, you're going to find all sorts of reasons not to do it. After that, the next biggest hurdle is just ranking the units. You don't want to do it alone. Divide it amongst your team, and get help.” - Warren Lieberman

Gabfocus Takeaway

Traditional pricing for storage units has centered around size. A smaller unit costs less than a bigger unit. Right? In this Session, we learn how pricing can be dynamic and really depends on what matters most to a customer. Borrowing insights from other industries, Warren and Jim discuss how significant convenience and availability can be when pricing your units, as well as a whole host of other features and amenities.  In short, the value of your units isn't static. Introducing dynamic value pricing to your facility, can not only help you get more out of your units, but it lets your customers prioritize and choose the qualities about your units that matter to them most.

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