Self-Storage Management Tips to Improve Operations
Running a self-storage facility is different from managing other types of real estate.
One big difference is the rate at which tenants move in and out. With apartments or offices, tenants are typically there for the long haul. With storage, tenants come and go much more frequently. If you find you have more tenants leaving than coming in, it may be time to rethink how you do things. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem at your storage facility—too many long-term tenants paying the same 2005-level rental rates.
Whatever specific situation you’re facing, don’t fret. From time to time, storage operations stagnate. This can be due to large macroeconomic forces beyond your control. It could also be true, given the rapid changes in technology, that the tactics that used to work just don’t work any more.
So if you’re looking to give your operations a much-needed boost, here are a few things to try:
Evaluate your customer service
Start by evaluating the quality of your customer service. With more options for storage available today than ever before, providing an exceptional guest experience can be a key differentiating factor for your business.
To get a handle on the state of your customer service, take a look at your online reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp. Too many negative reviews can hurt your business, and it is important to understand what is angering your customers. Read comments and see what things you can improve upon. Respond to reviews when appropriate.
Managing your reputation online is an unavoidable aspect of customer service these days. While you can’t always prevent a negative review, you can offset it by encouraging satisfied customers to leave you a review. Encouraging customers to leave reviews will also be a reminder for your team to always put their best foot forward.
Offer more features customers want
Another part of the customer service equation is to provide customers with more convenient options for renting a unit, paying their bill and communicating with you through text messages. The pandemic has ushered in “contactless” operations as the new normal across the country. Even beyond recent events, customers have increasingly shown a preference for conducting more transactions online or on their mobile device.
With a state-of-the-art facility website, the ability to run a contactless storage operation, and acceptance of online payments, you aren’t only improving your customer service—but you are also expanding your potential customer base by meeting them where they are shopping for services. Adding these technological upgrades to your facility could be just what your operations needs to achieve lift-off.
Upgrade your facility management software
When was the last time your facility upgraded its facility management software? The budget solution your facility implemented years ago might have worked well at the time, but if your software solution hasn’t advanced since then, there’s a good chance your operation has outgrown it.
To make sure your operation is running at optimal efficiency, take a moment to audit your software solution to make sure it can do all of the following (Spoiler alert: Software from Storable checks all the boxes):
- Create daily reminders for tasks related to lead follow-up and tenant management.
- Collect and organizes tenant data such as contact information, billing and demographic information.
- Include built-in revenue management tools to adjust unit rates based on market conditions.
- Manage and automate client communication through e-mail, SMS and phone.
- Generate data reports on all facets of your business from monthly move-ins to rental income.
These time-saving features make running a storage facility much more efficient, resulting in greater manager productivity, increased revenue and more satisfied customers.
Optimize rental rates
If you’re still calculating market rental rates the old fashioned way, you know how time intensive and laborious it can be. Time spent calculating rental rates manually creates a lag in your pricing with the actual market. Use a revenue management tool to automatically calculate rates based on market conditions and availability. Once you start, you’ll be confident you are commanding the best market rates for your units.
Remember to regularly raise rates on your existing customers. Set up increases of five to 10 percent at regular intervals. This is integral to growing revenue at your self-storage facility. Some of your existing tenants may move out, but your goal is to replace them with new tenants paying a higher rate. If you aren’t getting market rates for every unit, you aren’t maximizing the potential of your facility.
Selling tenant insurance is a smart way to generate extra revenue for your facility if your operations need a lift. If you already sell insurance, make sure you’re getting the most out of your relationship with the insurance company you have chosen to work with.
- Do they offer adequate sales training to your employees?
- Is the claims process a smooth one for your tenants?
- Do they provide effective marketing materials?
- Does your insurance offering integrate with your self-storage management software?
Depending on the answer to these questions, it might be time to reconsider your current arrangement. If you sell a superior insurance product backed by quality support, you will sell more policies and make more money for your facility.
Consider third party self-storage management
Self-storage management companies have all this stuff figured out. If you’re a facility owner trying to manage a self-storage facility on your own, the learning curve can be pretty steep. The convenience and reliable returns offered by self-storage management companies is pretty attractive. While they do collect a management fee, third party management companies can increase your overall profits with their expertise and economies of scale.
Drive more leads
In a competitive storage market, driving leads is an important part of growing and sustaining your storage business. If you find your facility occupancy rates are falling, you’ll need to develop a marketing plan to fill those empty units instead of just waiting (and hoping) for customers to see your facility and walk in the door.
If you have yet to jump into the realm of Google Adwords, social media ads, and listing your facility on an online storage marketplace like SpareFoot—there is no time like the present. If you are already doing all of these things, take the time to evaluate your efforts.
You should be tracking how much business comes from all of your various marketing channels. Then, direct spending towards the channels that give you the most bang for your buck. Go back to the drawing board when it comes to your other efforts and try a different approach. Overall, reshuffling your marketing approach is one smart card to play if your storage operation is underperforming.
Take a holistic approach to improving operations
If you find your operations aren’t up to par, taking a holistic approach covering the areas above is a good way to start. Technology allows storage operators to do more with their business when it comes to management, customer experience, optimizing rents and driving quality leads. Once you see how your facility measures up in these areas, you can start to focus on the parts of your business that need the most attention.
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