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Gabfocus Session | Optimizing Your Day-to-Day

Optimizing Your Day-to-Day

So much business success comes down to the daily choices you and your team make. What do you prioritize? What's working? What needs to be better? In this session, we'll take a magnifying glass to small tasks that make up managers' and operators' days and see how you can make them better.

Featured Speakers: Denise Bowley & Kevin Mullis
Moderators: Tommy NguyenMelissa Huff

Category: Operations
Focus: Owners, Operators & Managers
Aired: June 29, 2023
Duration: 1:21:54


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

  • At 8:00, our experts dig into ways that customers can rent units, along with highlighting their preference for online rentals.
  • 10:40, Denise discussed how you can still have a connection with your customers even with the prevalence of online rentals.
  • Starting at 16:50, Denise and Kevin covered best practices for getting tenants moved into units.
  • At 18:40, Kevin touched on the importance of giving information to your customers via text or email so it is readily available.
  • 24:20, our guests start to dig into best practices around customer move-outs.
  • Around 27:50, Denise notes that you'll always have to deal with some left-behind junk, but ensuring on-time move-outs is what matters.
  • At 30:00, both experts cover the importance of autopay for tenants and describe payment best practices.
  • 36:00, Denise touches on payment patterns being different depending on the facility and the market it is in.
  • 40:40, Kevin and Denise give advice on how to migrate customers onto autopay from other forms of payment.
  • Starting around 44:05, both guests discuss their best practices around facility walkthroughs.
  • 49:40, Denise and Kevin talk about the different forms of communication they use to contact customers.
  • Starting at 55:20, Kevin reveals how he encourages tenants to leave Google Reviews for his facilities.
  • At 1:01:10, our guests discuss technology offerings at their remote locations.
  • Around 1:05:40, Denise gives advice on how to find people to check on your remote properties.
  • At 1:07:50, both experts answered questions on routines in our lightning round.
  • Finally, at 1:15:30, both guests answered the question of the week!


Question of the Week

We asked our experts: When it comes to day-to-day operations, what sets an average operator apart from a great operator?

I would say following up and making sure all those boxes are checked. Making sure that everything is done once a quarter, every month, every day. Making sure those boxes are checked really gives a good impression to your customers. If your tenants are coming to the property and your gate is broken every time they are coming, that's not a good sign." - Kevin Mullis

"It's getting up and coming to work even though we don't have to. We want to. We want to take care of our properties. We want to support our staff. We want to be there for our customers. Those of us who have investors, we have an obligation to them. So it's showing up and doing the work every single day It's answering those midnight Google messages from someone who randomly wants to rent a 5x5 at midnight. It's those kinds of things." - Denise Bowley

Gabfocus Takeaway

When focusing on the success of your business, all the data, and the financials, it is almost too easy to forget about the day-to-day tasks that make your business successful. If you let these tasks slip through the cracks, then the customer experience of your tenants is going to slip as well. In the long run, that's going to start affecting the success of your business and the money going into the bank. Find manageable ways to stay on top of the day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month that keep your business humming, and, where appropriate, consider some form of automation to take some of the burden off your shoulders. If you keep your operations optimized, then your business will continue to run smoothly and your customer experience will keep tenants renting and happy.

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 Lighthouse Storage Solutions.

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

Questions asked about each of the below topics:

  • How do you do it the right way?
  • What are the pitfalls?
  • How do you track it?
  • How do you improve it and grow?

Topics covered:

  1. Following up with leads in-person, online, or over a call
  2. When a customer is moving in
  3. When a customer is moving out
  4. Getting customers to pay on-time
  5. Handling customers who are late on payments
  6. Facility walkthroughs including locks, cleanliness, maintenance, and security risks
  7. Processing payments
  8. Communicating with your tenants
  9. Google Reviews
  10. Remote facility technology solutions

Lightning Round: Building an hour-by-hour or day-by-day protocol

  1. What should happen every day?
  2. What should happen every week?
  3. What should happen every month?
  4. What should happen every quarter?

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




Meet Your Speakers

Denise Bowley

Denise Bowley

Self Storage Science

Website: https://www.selfstoragescience.com/
Email: denise@selfstoragescience.com
Kevin Mullis

Kevin Mullis

Bob White Self Storage

Website: https://www.bobwhitestorage.com/
Email: bobwhiteselfstorageoffice@gmail.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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