Gabfocus Episode 61 | The Good, Better, & Best in Storage Security

Gabfocus Episode 61 | The Good, Better, & Best in Storage Security

All the security hardware and tech options for your facility can quickly become overwhelming. Does your facility need all the latest security tech, or could you get away with the bare minimum? You can't take a one-size-fits-all approach to security. Join us as we dig into security basics and upgrades and show what facilities will benefit most from them.

Featured Speakers: Aaron Harwell
Moderators: Tommy Nguyen & Melissa Huff

Category: Operations & Security
Focus: Owners, Operators, & Managers
Aired: June 27, 2024
Duration: 1:01:47


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

  • At 7:21, our expert discussed why security matters, especially when it comes to the perception of potential customers.
  • 10:15, Aaron discussed the different security needs of a class A, B, and C facility, including what he things they should all have in common.
  • Starting at 12:15, Aaron covered the main basics he sees at most facilities, including gates, access control, and cameras.
  • At 13:30, our guest talked about security upgrades that you can make after having the basics, like unit alarms, motion detectors, and laser detection.
  • 15:45, our expert started discussing the issue of catalytic converters being stolen from RV & boat facilities, including how they've helped a facility mitigate this.
  • Around 19:40, Aaron talks about how individual unit alarms work, along with how they can be used as an upsell opportunity.
  • At 22:30, our guest covers what you should look for in a security vendor.
  • 28:05, Aaron touched on the importance of corner mirrors inside your facility and how they are helpful.
  • 32:00, our guest discussed whether or not he feels that 24/7 access makes a facility less secure and how you can use it as another upsell opportunity.
  • 39:40, Aaron highlighted whether security features actually deter break-ins or if they are more of a marketing tool.
  • At 42:40, our guest talked about how to know when it may be time for a security upgrade at your facility.
  • Starting at 45:20, Aaron discussed how sometimes security upgrades can just open you up to more issues when things break.
  • Around 46:35, our guest talked about new motion sensor technology that they are working on.
  • 54:30, Aaron discussed the issue of people tunneling into neighboring units and how that can be mitigated.
  • 55:50 Aaron answered the question of the week!


Gabfocus Takeaway

Not every facility needs all the security bells and whistles, but every facility should have certain basics. Fencing, a gate, access control, and cameras are pretty standard across most facilities, and if you don't have them, your potential customers are going to rent at the facility down the road that has these security amenities instead. When it comes to upgrading your security, you don't necessarily have to change anything at all if everything is working for you and your customers. However, if things are starting to break and you may not have a reliable replacement, it may be time to consider an upgrade. If you want to consider larger upgrades, like in-unit sensors and alarms, consider how these added security amenities can act as upsell opportunities to bring more revenue into your business!

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. Why does security matter?
  2. What are the different security needs for a class A, B, & C facility?
  3. What other differences about facilities impact security needs?
  4. How can you identify how much security you need at your facility?
  5. Which security features do you consider a bare minimum for every facility?
  6. Which vendors can you work with for these basics?
  7. Do you find that 24/7 access makes your facility less secure?
  8. To what extent are security features marketing tools vs actually deterring break-ins?
  9. How do you know it may be time for a security upgrade?
  10. What is brand new or top-tier in security amenities?
  11. Which security upgrade will give you the biggest return on your investment?

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




Meet Your Speakers

Aaron Harwell

Aaron Harwell



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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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