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Gabfocus Session | Storage Tech Summit

Storage Tech Summit

What technology is next for storage? What new tech are operators using? More than anything technology should help us run our businesses better and help our customers more! From hardware to software, we'll dive into the latest trends in storage technology, learn how operators are implementing new technology, and hear what's on the horizon in storage tech.

Featured Speakers: Chuck Gordon & Raheem Amer
Moderators: Tommy NguyenMelissa Huff

Category: Operations & Technology
Focus: Owners & Operators
Aired: May 25, 2023
Duration: 1:30:33


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

  • At 4:40, Chuck and Raheem start to talk about the current state of technology in the industry and how it has changed over 10+ years.
  • 11:15, Chuck covers the importance of online features for your tech stack and software since that's what younger generations prefer.
  • Starting at 14:00, Raheem highlights that to have a good foundation, you need to have a good website, good PMS system, and good access control.
  • At 19:00, our experts discuss the importance of going through your full customer experience process as a customer would to catch any issues.
  • 23:30, Chuck talks about ways that different size operators can handle customer communication, including ways to automate it.
  • Around 30:10, our experts start to discuss how they expect storage tech to change in the next 5 years.
  • At 34:15, Chuck covers what online rentals include and why they are so important to have for your business.
  • 42:00, Chuck covers the profile of good storage software and what it includes, including the basics it must cover.
  • Starting at 46:50, our experts discuss accounting software and what different size operators are using.
  • 48:30, Chuck chats about how revenue management is underutilized by smaller operators across the industry.
  • Starting around 56:00, Raheem highlights what access control looks like at a "state-of-the-art" facility.
  • 1:01:35, our experts discuss how different operators are currently using smart technologies at their businesses.
  • Starting at 1:03:00, Raheem talks about essential technology for keeping your facility secure.
  • At 1:05:00, our guests answer questions in the monthly lightning round.
  • Around 1:10:30, Chuck and Raheem both answer the question of the week.


Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What are the industry's biggest tech blindspots?

Revenue management and then just all the teachings and learnings that you will hear at different conferences. You have to take it back and go execute. Technology won't help you unless you go and execute it." - Raheem Amer

"The concept of experimentation. If you don't have an active mindset of constantly experimenting and optimizing then your blindspot is that you are leaving potential on the table." - Chuck Gordon

Gabfocus Takeaway

Storage technology has changed drastically in the last 10 years, and it doesn't show any signs of stopping. However, do you really need to adopt every new piece of tech that hits the market? It's unlikely, especially if you know who your customers are and what they want. For example, if the majority of your facilities are in secondary or tertiary markets, you may not need extensive smart tech for your facilities to keep up with the competition! As long as you have a solid foundation, comprised of a strong website, PMS system, and access control, you can pick and choose the extra additions to make to your tech stack based on the needs and wants of the customers in your market. Just because it's right for someone else doesn't mean it's right for you, and the same applies to your business. You should be utilizing tech where it can improve the experience of your customers or streamline your processes through automation!

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

  1. What is the state of technology? How does the industry utilize and interact with technology?
  2. What have been the big tech trends in storage over the last 5 years?
  3. What technology is necessary to have in place for effective automation?
  4. How do you determine when it's right to introduce more automation to your facility?
  5. How are successful operators handling their communication systems?
  6. How do you expect communication tech to change in storage in the next 5 years?
  7. What are ways you see successful operators use their websites better or differently?
  8. What's the role of software in your technology stack?
  9. What are ways you see owners and operators use their software better or differently?
  10. Describe access control at a "state-of-the-art" facility?
  11. How have you seen operators utilizing different smart technologies?
  12. What technology is essential to have in place to keep your facility secure?
  13. If you were building a new facility today, what's the essential tech stack you're choosing?
  14. If you had a facility for 10 years, what would be the first tech that you would update or improve?
  15. If someone is looking to buy a facility, what's the biggest tech "gotcha" to look out for?
  16. Is there any technology that the REITs use that independents should be using?
  17. What technology are you expecting or interested in seeing come into the storage industry?
  18. Is there any new or coming technology that you're not sold on?
  19. What are the industry's biggest tech blindspots?

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




Meet Your Speakers

Chuck Gordon

Chuck Gordon


Website: https://www.storable.com/
Email: chuck@storable.com
Raheem Amer

Raheem Amer

Mini Mall Storage

Website: https://www.minimallstorage.com/
Email: raheem@minimallstorage.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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