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Gabfocus Session | Heating Up

Heating Up:
Dealing with competition and over-saturation in your market

Whether there's a big REIT in town or your market is feeling a little crowded, dealing with competition is tough. How do you set yourself apart? How do you make sure new customers are choosing you without dropping your prices? In this Session, we talk about strategies and tools you can use to stay competitive - no matter your market.

Featured Speakers: Stephanie Winfree & Jim Ross
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Marketing & Operations
Focus: Owners and Managers
Aired: February 18, 2021
Duration: 1:08:26

Highlights

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

  • At 7:00, Stephanie talks about how much has changed in her market since 2004 and the impact of more facilities opening in her city (and on her street).
  • At 10:11, Stephanie shares how she incorporated grassroots marketing back into her efforts to reach her community. "I shop at your grocery store."
  • At 11:05, Jim tells us that the way you grow you occupancy is simple: "Marketing, Marketing, Marketing" and to "quit being lazy." He insists that we've had it too good for too long, and that the operators that want to stand out need to focus and develop a plan.
  • At 14:30, Jim shares the secret of "competition alliances" and how competition means there's a demand in your market.
  • At 16:35, Tommy sums up the top strategies for dealing with your competition.
  • At 24:00, Stephanie talks about how a big competitor price drop made her rethink pricing strategy. “It’s one thing to hold out, it’s another thing to hold on too long.”
  • At 32:00, all our experts (and attendees) weigh in on what your "brand" really is and how much it matters. "Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room."
  • At 40:50, Jim breaks down what it means when the big REITs come to town and how you have to step up every dimension of your business and operations.
  • At 42:25, Melissa reminds us that there's a lot that a smaller operation can do better and faster than a bigger company or REIT
  • At 51:38, Jim and Stephanie discuss why they would or wouldn't pay for leads or use Sparefoot 
  • At 58:30, Stephanie talks about how growing competition and what different types of self storage entities mean for the industry. "Those who are hungriest will survive. It's becoming a market that's sink or swim."

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What’s the most important thing I can focus on to stay competitive in my market?

"Put yourself in the customer's shoes. Do exactly what a customer would do to rent a unit. Put your finger on the pulse of your market, and everything else will start to fall in place from there. If nothing else, know your market." - Jim Ross
"Focus on your facility. What's sad? What's tired? Does your landscaping need to be done? Is there fencing that needs to be repaired? If your place is sad to look at, they're not going to stop in. If it's warm and welcoming, they'll want to." -Stephanie Winfree
"Back up and take a big picture look at yourself. Is what you're presenting about your facility consistent wherever someone would find you? Have you been focusing one area too much and neglecting others? Take a step back and make sure everything is connected and going the same direction." - Melissa Huff

Gabfocus Takeaway

Self storage competition is growing everywhere, and if it hasn't started in your city, it will. But, this isn't something to be afraid of, if you're willing to put in the work. More facilities opening in your market means that there's demand for storage, so you need to get out there and be excellent. 

The good news? The tools and strategies you need are available. In fact, as a smaller operation, you can implement and adjust your tools and strategies way easier than a bigger company or REIT. Use this to your advantage!

The big two quotes of the Session were "don't be lazy" and "accept change." Operators who are willing to work hard can find success, even in a crowded market, if they are also willing to pay attention and adapt with the ebbs and flows that an ever-changing industry demands.

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. There seem to be a lot more facilities opening in my city? How will this impact me? What should I expect?
  2. What can I do to keep my occupancy up when there are so many other facilities around me?
  3. What can I do to stand out from my competition?
  4. Should I adjust my strategy or prices compared to what my competitors are doing?
  5. How do I optimize my local search?
  6. How much does my brand matter?
  7. What if my market gets overbuilt? Is there anything I should do to prepare?
  8. Big box brands seem to be coming into smaller and smaller markets. What does this mean for me and the industry?
  9. With so many locations selling to the big REITs, do the small operations stand a chance?
  10. Do I have to run ads and pay for leads on Sparefoot to compete with a REIT?
  11. How do you see the industry changing with the emergence of so many different kinds of storage entities (REITs, smaller operators, management companies, large operators, real estate companies, etc.)?
  12. What’s the most important thing I can focus on to stay competitive in my market?

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

poll-manager-skills

 

 

Meet your speakers

stephanie-winfree

Stephanie Winfree

Interstate Self Storage

Website: https://www.interstateself-storage.com/
Email: interstateselfstoragesc@gmail.com
jim=ross

Jim Mooney

3 Mile Storage

Website: https://3milestorage.com/
Email: jim@3milestorage.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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