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Gabfocus Session | Get Smart

Get Smart: Technology, tools, and processes to keep your operations running smoothly

Technology should make your life easier, not harder, right? In this Session, we'll hear which tools and technology owners and operators are using to improve their processes, run their facilities, and grow their businesses.

Featured Speakers: Chad Lundberg & Victor Diaz
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Operations
Focus: Owners & Managers
Aired: October 21, 2021
Duration: 1:13:55


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

  • At 6:45, Chad and Victor talk about the major differences between automated and manned facilities 
  • At 11:45, Melissa reminds us how important education is for our teams. "If you don’t make sure that your team is properly educated, they’ll try to find answers on their own."
  • At 14:25, Victor talks about the importance of an audit and why it should entail more than just looking at your numbers
  • At 16:00, Chad and Melissa talk about how to keep up with your facility when it's automated and no one is actively on-site
  • At 24:50, our panelists talk about how they handle payroll for their employees
  • At 28:30, Chad and Victor break down their billing and collections procedures, day by day, and which tools they use to implement their follow-ups 
  • At 33:45, our panelists overview their collections and lien law processes and why it's so important to be diligent about your checklists
  • At 46:40, Chad and Victor talk about how they onboard new customers, get their leases signed and set expectations as their customers move in 
  • At 1:05:40, our experts answer the Question of the Week!

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What is your operations philosophy?

"Treat the tenants as you'd want to be treating. You've got to be fair, you've got to be very transparnet and honest with tenants. Especially with their belongings, if you're locking them out or selling their things, you need to be fully tansparent what can occur and what is going to happen if they don't pay."  - Victor Diaz
"If it's worth storing, it's worth storing right." - Melissa Huff


Gabfocus Takeaway

The road from idea to implementation is paved with practicality. All operators, big or small, need to have their processes and procedures defined. Technology and tools can help you execute smart operational processes, but in the end, you and your team have to be committed to them. Your processes aren't about going "the extra mile," their essential to the health, longevity, and even legality of your business. And, like many things, your processes and procedures require maintenance and upkeep. Regular auditing and reviewing are essential. It's not always the most fun part of self storage, but it's the backbone of your business. Here's the good news: sorting out your operational procedures actually saves you headaches in the long run. As you continue to grow in the industry, you'll develop your own playbook of how to handle most situations and create guardrails to protect you and your team from the tough situations you especially want to avoid.

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 are some of the major pros and cons of automated vs manual facilities? Can you talk about your experiences with both?
  2. How do you communicate and coordinate with your team?
  3. What tools do you use for payroll?
  4. How do you manage facility upkeep? What about for an automated facility?
  5. How do you handle billing? Do you send reminders?
  6. What’s your process for following up with late or overdue payments? Do you send to collections?
  7. What are your lease signing and onboarding processes?
  8. What are the things you and your team do to ensure the customer has a positive experience with you?
  9. How do you get more reviews?
  10. What are your processes and tools for making the rental experience seamless? Online vs in-person?
  11. What kind of communication (email, texting, etc.) do you use to contact leads and tenants? What specific tools do you use?
  12. What is your operations philosophy?

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




Meet your speakers

chad lundberg

Chad Lundberg

The Storage Group

Website: https://www.superstoragegroup.com/
Email: chad.thestoragegroup@gmail.com
Victor Diaz Mugshot

Victor Diaz


Website: https://www.stor365.com/
Email: victor@stor365.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


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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