As another year comes to a close, it presents an ideal time for self-storage operators to reflect on their businesses and consider which processes are working well and what can be improved over the next 12 months.
The current environment of high inflation and interest rates has created significant headwinds for growth-oriented self-storage operators. Rates have declined from pandemic highs, and occupancy has also fallen as demand has waned amidst the sluggishness of the U.S. housing market. Now, many construction projects no longer pencil out, and owners are holding off on selling, awaiting better days. Growing through acquisitions or development in the current economic climate is challenging.
For many operators, that means focusing on their existing operations and improving them as much as possible. The following checklist is intended to walk through various opportunities that exist to streamline operations, maximize revenue per tenant, and drive demand. Consider each one to determine if you are doing everything you can in that area or if there is room for improvement in 2024.
Wasted time is wasted money. Utilizing technology to reduce the administrative load at your facilities can not only cut labor costs but also free up employees to spend more time providing quality customer service, maintaining the facility, and performing marketing tasks.
- Collections: Chasing down customers for payment is a time-intensive drain on your facility resources. Evaluate the amount of time your staff spends on such tasks and consider whether an automated collections tool like Storable’s Collection Manager Pro would benefit your operation. Automating collections not only saves time but can also help reduce overall delinquency while boosting retention.
- Management Workflows: Many repetitive and time-consuming workflows can be automated using facility management software. Now is a good time to evaluate your existing workflows, whether manual or automated, and make sure you are leveraging every feature of your management software to get the most value.
- Rental Process: If you are still exclusively handling rentals over the counter, you may be missing a tremendous opportunity to attract the growing tide of consumers that prefer digital forms of engagement. Offering online move-ins via your website can help you seal the deal with customers before they shop around elsewhere.
- Access Control: Evaluate if your access control system is up to par. Many access solutions still require managers to manually make adjustments and troubleshoot issues as they arise. And outdated systems are prone to errors, which can consume the time of your staff when they constantly have to correct them. Having a seamless access control that integrates with your FMS ensures a high-quality customer experience while enabling you to offer contactless move-ins.
Maximize Revenue Per Tenant
With rates down more than 15% from a year ago, it is wise for self-storage operators to seek ways to maximize revenue per tenant.
- Insurance: Offering tenant insurance is a good way to ensure your tenants are protected against unexpected losses while adding another line of revenue to your balance sheet. Evaluate the effectiveness of your current insurance program by assessing how well you compensate and protect tenants, and review your attach rate throughout the year. Technology–based automated solutions can even help you achieve 65%+ enrollment rates without having to lift a finger.
- Revenue Management: With street rates declining, rate optimization is more important than ever. Revenue management ensures you are commanding strong market rate rents while implementing appropriate and effective increases on your existing tenants without any manual effort. It also allows you to strategically lower rates to drive demand and fill units fast. (Storable Software now offers built-in revenue management)
- Additional Revenue Sources: There are many opportunities to create additional revenue streams often overlooked when business is booming. Beyond retail sales of moving supplies, operators can generate additional income by converting existing units into specialty units for band rehearsal, wine storage, or as a business center.
Time to diversify your marketing approach for as many at-bats as possible.
- Website Check-up: Is your current website optimized to drive online rentals? Audit the effectiveness of your website and invest in making it better. Pay particular attention to page load speed and any broken pages.
- Online Move-Ins: Enabling online move-ins will allow you to close and convert visitor traffic to your website into more paying tenants at your facility.
- SEO and PPC: Implement strategies for search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to enhance your online visibility. Dive into Google Analytics and Search Console to see what is working well, and how you might approve.
- Diversify Marketing: Activate facility listings on the Storable Marketplace to reach more customers. An omni-channel marketing approach increases your virtual shelf space online and gives potential tenants more opportunities to discover your facility (instead of those of your competitor).
- Cultivating Business Customers: Explore opportunities to attract business customers, such as offering tailored storage solutions for businesses.
- Local Partnerships: Build strategic partnerships with local businesses to increase your facility’s visibility and attract more customers.
Another important area to consider is cybersecurity. As more of the storage industry turns to digital engagement, the risk and exposure to cyberattacks grow. A successful cyberattack on your business could be extremely costly, so preventing one should be top of mind for your organization.
- Invest in Cybersecurity Training: Ensure that your staff is well-trained in cybersecurity best practices.
- Use 2-Factor Authentication: Implement two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your digital systems.
- Review and Update Your Incident Response Plan: Regularly review and update your incident response plan to ensure that your team is well-prepared to handle any cybersecurity threats.
By addressing these key areas, self-storage operators can position themselves for success in the coming year, navigating challenges and capitalizing on opportunities for growth. Need a little help? Storable is here. Explore our products and services, or reach out to your rep to see how we can help you achieve your goals in 2024.
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