Welcome to Florida, home of Walt Disney World, the country’s freshest orange juice, and the never-ending summer. For Tony Casarez, owner of E-Z Mini Storage in western Florida, the state’s thriving self storage market has been an entrepreneur's dream, offering tons of room for growth and family-friendly flexibility.
“As much as I tried to self-educate, learn, and absorb ideas prior to getting into self storage, it’s nothing compared to actually doing it,” said Casarez. “I was motivated to be my own boss, I wanted the entrepreneurial career. Now, I’m able to work flexible hours to coach my boys’ sports teams, drop them off at school, and be at home with them in the evenings, all while meeting my occupancy and revenue goals.”
Only two short years ago, Casarez switched from his career in big box retail management to the self storage biz. Since then, he’s been working hard to put his mark on the property, adding more rentable space to the facility and improving on existing structures.
Casarez’s Hudson, Florida facility spans 10 acres and offers close to 30,000 sq ft of rentable space with 200 interior units and a mix of 180 covered and uncovered parking spaces, ideal for RVs, boats, campers, or large vehicles. The spacious facility is clean and well-maintained, double-fenced with gated entry, and also offers convenient amenities like drive-up access, security monitoring, online bill pay, and a free washing area for boats and campers.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, E-Z Mini Storage had no major property damage or flooding, but did lose power during the height of the storm. Although they were able to still take online reservations and online payments through their website, their gate was temporarily without power, so access was limited. Within just a few days, Casarez and his team regained power and had the property functioning back at 100%.
“Living here in Florida, I’ve been through multiple hurricanes. It’s just something you live with. That’s why one of the first things I addressed when evaluating the property was the structural integrity of the buildings. Our facility is concrete block, the roof is in great shape, and we can weather a lot (no pun intended). We keep the maintenance up on the facility, and the buildings in particular, in hopes that we’ll be able to handle whatever Florida throws at us. We give our customers plenty of notice and use all our communication methods to inform them of weather emergencies,” said Casarez.
Hurricane or no hurricane, Casarez won’t let anything slow down E-Z Mini Storage’s progress.
“I set goals when I first took over the facility, and I’ve already hit my occupancy goals on my inside units. I hit those within two months after getting on the storEDGE software. They were year-end goals, and I hit them by June. Now, I’m getting ready for our busy season, the outdoor storage season, with incoming snowbird and seasonal traffic,” said Casarez.
When Casarez took over the property, the facility was running a desktop-based facility management software and utilizing a storEDGE marketing website. He knew immediately that the facility’s software was due for an upgrade. After checking out a storEDGE webinar prior to purchasing, Casarez decided to upgrade his outdated system to cloud-based facility management software so he’d be able to take online reservations and be able to work from home or on-the-go.
“I started calling storEDGE for information on the website and it naturally led to talking about gates, software, and everything in between. Since we already had the website set up with storEDGE, I felt like the partnership was meant to be. So that integration was just seamless, and the price point was pretty great for me as a new, just-starting-out type of guy, as well. It’s a great system that’s user-friendly and fulfilling my needs really well as a new owner. It’s been a great match for us.”
“Within two months of purchasing, we were on the brand new storEDGE system. I didn’t have remote accessibility before. My set-up wasn’t a web-based system and you had to literally be in the office at the facility to view reports. Now, I’m able to log on in the evenings once the boys are settled and home from school without having to go back into the office. I can manage my business from anywhere. It’s just helped out on so many fronts.”
High-tech improvements aside, Casarez is quick to thank his team for the facility’s recent success.
“As much technology as we have, my team is still my biggest asset. They really allow me to focus on growing the business. I don’t have to worry so much about the day-to-day operations when I’m not there. They’re experts at customer service, and they know the business. I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished in just six months.”
So what’s next for Casarez? He’s currently updating his outdoor parking space options to add about 40 more parking spots for RVs, boats, and vehicles. Being in a heavy traffic area near U.S. Highway 19, Casarez is also looking at expanding the facility’s indoor storage options in the future. But he’s not about to limit himself to a single self storage property.
“I’ve always got my eye out looking for other properties. I’m open to anything - it could be elsewhere in Florida or anywhere in the country. It just depends on the buy. Because of storEDGE, I could operate a facility remotely where everything is done online. Before I start managing remotely, I’d like to know the business a little better first. But it’s great to know that storEDGE enables me to go a few hours away here in the state of Florida, or a few states away, if it’s the right opportunity.”
Thank you E-Z Mini 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: Secure Pack Storage, Client Spotlight: Extra Self Storage, and Client Spotlight: Interstate Self Storage & Innovation Self Storage.