Renovating self storage properties. It’s the California dream. Well, maybe it isn’t, but it should be. (No one’s ever gotten attacked by a shark while renovating a self storage property, right?) For the folks at Extra Self Storage, beautifying dilapidated spaces is a way of life. I recently got the chance to talk with Shelby Beck, President of Business Operations at Extra Self Storage. She manages the brand’s 11 locations on the West Coast, including nine facilities in California and two in Nevada. And there’s likely to be more growth on the horizon: for years, the brand has been gobbling up foreclosure properties and turning them into modern, high-tech grade-A facilities.
Beck’s family and self storage go way back. Her father, Dan Kennedy, started the business in the early 90s when she was still in high school. Beck was always involved, from working as a relief manager at the nearby Extra Self Storage locations in high school, to working and living on-site as manager of the Chico property while attending college at California State University in Chico, California. Fifteen years later, the brand has been dubbed the fastest growing provider of self storage in California and Nevada. With 11 locations and counting, and over 25 staff on the roster, Extra Self Storage shows no signs of slowing down. Beck herself is heavily involved in the industry, serving as Vice President of the Nevada Self Storage Association since 2014.
“My father has a very unique vision for self storage,” said Beck. “He finds properties that everyone else passes over, and he goes in with an idea for improving the space. He can really flip anything. It’s great to watch and fun to follow along with.”
Extra Self Storage’s thriving family-owned business began with just one facility in Magalia, California, about 15 minutes from Beck’s hometown of Paradise, California. The Magalia facility is a fenced and gated property, offering over 520 units of convenient drive-up accessible storage. The facility utilizes an on-site resident manager and an access control system for gated entry.
Since then, there have been many new builds, flips, and expansions, including flipping an old beef jerky factory into a climate controlled building in Marysville, California and turning the existing adjoining property into a fenced and gated facility with indoor RV parking and commercial storage, and a beautiful on-site manager residence, adding 625 units of climate controlled, interior storage space to the Red Bluff, California facility, where temps routinely reach 115 degrees during the summer season, and converting an orthodontics office in Paradise, California into an on-site residence and building over 536 units of self storage on the empty property behind it. Now, the Paradise facility also offers a modern workspace.
“We have a nice corporate office in Paradise connected to the facility. Dan has always worked from home, and when I started as general manager, I worked from home with little ones, so it’s refreshing to have a real office space. When I started as a general manager, I worked out of my living room on a Craigslist desk with file cabinets built out of a pile of Huggies boxes. It was a good day when I finally got a hardwood desk and a rolling chair.”
While the facilities vary slightly from one location to the next, one thing that all Extra Self Storage locations have in common is an on-site residence for facility managers. Beck says the company’s resident managers are incredibly valuable to streamlining business processes, especially as the company continues to grow.
“With all the technology that’s available, you don’t necessarily have to have an on-site, resident manager, but we’ve found that it’s really the best way to run a self storage property efficiently and securely, especially when you have over 10 facilities spread out across two states. There have been many times where, had we not had on-site managers, I would have had to drop everything to go out to a facility that is over three hours away from our Paradise office to resolve a problem on-site.”
Extra Self Storage’s latest undertaking is the expansion of both the Live Oak, California facility and the West Sacramento, California facility. The expansion at Live Oak will add over 115 units to the facility while maintaining existing sought-after amenities, such as drive-up access, online bill pay, large driveways, and coded gate access. The expansion at West Sacramento will add another multi-level building to the facility with more climate-controlled storage to add over 150 units to the high-tech facility, which features an on-site kiosk from OpenTech, door alarms from PTI Security, online bill payment, coded access, and an extensive 24/7 video surveillance security system.
All of that expansion spurred the need for new facility management software. For Beck, having fully-cloud based software was vital to manage the brand across state lines. There’s also the ‘goosebump’ factor.
“When we started looking to upgrade our software, the first thing I did was start talking to other operators. I didn’t even go to the vendors at first, because I figured, of course they’re going to say, ‘well, duh - my product is the best!’ Talking to other operators was key to finding what was going to work for us. I met with several different software vendors and narrowed it down to three before I finally had my district managers demo the programs. It was important to me to get the team involved, because, at the end of the day, if my facility managers can’t navigate the software, then our day-to-day operations suffer. When I finally got to see storEDGE, it blew me away. True story, it gave me goosebumps.”
“With all of the expansions we were doing, we will have seven hundred vacant units at the time of completion, so it was vital to me that we find a way to automate the process. With our previous software, there was just no way. The managers would’ve had to do it manually, and it would have been a snail process. Since switching to storEDGE, we’ve had great success with all of the automated tools, the SMS options, the invoicing options, and e-sign. We are saving a lot of money by using all e-sign and not printing our lease agreements. Plus, all of our delinquency processes have been cut in half, because the software automates emails as legal notifications for late tenants. In states like Nevada, where electronic mailing is allowed for any type of legal notification, that saves a ton of time and money.”
So what’s next for Extra Self Storage? You can certainly expect more growth, with continued expansions of multi-level, climate controlled storage buildings with high-tech features like advanced security and digital access control systems.
“We have three more locations that we are going to be adding on to in the next year, and that is going to put us at almost 6,000 units, which is really exciting,” said Beck. “We’re always on the lookout for our next flip or renovation project, and we’re thrilled to be expanding into Nevada and improving on our existing facilities.”
Thank you Extra Self Storage! At storEDGE, we are proud to work with clients who excel at what they do, care about their customers, and lead the industry in technology. If you liked this article, you may also like: Client Spotlight: Interstate Self Storage & Innovation Self Storage, Client Spotlight: The Self Storage Vault, and Client Spotlight: Rosewood Self Storage.