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Gabfocus | Real Problems New Owners Face

Gabfocus |Real Problems New Owners Face

So, you're a new self storage owner. Now what? Lucky for you, there are plenty of resources to help! Hear from storage veterans what problems to expect and how to handle them like a pro.

Featured Speakers: Denise Bowley & Jane Sauls
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Operations
Focus: Owners and Managers
Aired: October 22, 2020
Duration: 1:05:58


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

  • At 3:52 - Denise and Jane tell us how to pick the best location for a new facility and how to read your market
  • At 6:15 - Jane talks about how your management style should effect what you're looking for when buying an existing facility
  • At 17:21 - Jane weighs the pros and cons of manned versus unmanned facilities and reminds us that "an unmanned site doesn’t mean it’s unmanaged"
  • At 21:37 - Denise and Jane tell us what they're looking for in a new hire, how to support them, and how to incentivize them
  • At 25:35 - Denise tells us how new owners can choose the right tools, and we it's so important to talk to other owners when you're trying to choose what's best for your facility
  • At 36:03 - Jane explains why your website is your most important marketing strategy and why your website should be built by an industry expert
  • At 41:10 - Denise talks about the importance of your state's self storage association and the connections, partnerships, and knowledge that they will provide
  • At 53:37 - Jane talks about customer relations and reminds us that "just because someone needs storage, doesn’t make them a good customer for you"

Question of the Week

We asked our panelists: What’s the biggest blind spot that new owners have?

“It's lack of experience. Something bad is going to happen - in development, in construction, with the purchase. I've never had something bad not happen. And if you don't have the experience, it can be overwhelming.” - Denise Bowley
“You don't know what you don't know. If we could tell you your blind spot, it wouldn't be a blind spot. But, I can tell you when you'll know when you're finally doing it right. Right now, as a new owner, you're thinking that a move-out is the worst thing that can happen. I think that mindset is your blind spot. You know you're doing self storage right when you're excited about your move-outs. Because if you're doing it right, you're pushing your rates like you need to. You know that you're about to add move revenue because you're doing your marketing like you're supposed to, and you have folks ready to move in and pay more for the unit. So, you know you're doing it right when you're excited about your move-outs and you're more focused on the money you're putting in the bank than your occupancy." - Jane Sauls

Gabfocus Takeaway

As you'd expect, there's no quick route to "figure out self storage." If you're a new owner (or you want to be), connect with other owners who are running similar facilities. One of the best places to connect with other owners and any other kind of partner, expert, or vendor you'd need is your state association. They'll have a wealth of information, resources, and connections to offer.

Beyond that, our panelists reminded us to reach for partners who have experience in self storage. Bankers, lawyers, insurance, marketing and website groups - it's better to reach for experts who know your industry. Like all things, it takes time to understand and gain experience. But, there are plenty of resources, tools, people, and associations willing to help.

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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Top Questions Answered in this session

  1. How do I choose the best location for a new facility?
  2. What do I look for when buying an already established facility?
  3. How much capital do I need to become a new owner?
  4. What are the major expenses when becoming an owner? Are there any surprises?
  5. What are the pros and cons of having a manned facility versus hiring staff remotely?
  6. When hiring new staff, what are some things to look out for?
  7. There are so many different products and tools out there. What do I really need?
  8. Are there specialized insurance policies or legal agreements I need to have in place?
  9. What are the most important marketing strategies for a new facility?
  10. Should I join my state association?
  11. What are some ways to grow my facility? How aggressive should I be about trying to grow?
  12. What should my relationship with my customers be like?
  13. How involved do I need to be in the day-to-day of my facility?

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


Denise Bowley

Owner, Self Storage Science

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

Jane Sauls

Broker, Sauls Storage Group

Website: https://saulsstoragegroup.com
Email: jane@saulsstoragegroup.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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