Calling all new self storage owners and investors! You’ve been researching everything you need to know as a new storage business owner - making sure your facility meets city codes, writing your lease agreement to meet legal standards in your state, pouring over market data, and secret shopping competitors. To make it easy to find all of our resources for your research, we’ve compiled our top ten most popular blog posts for new self storage owners and investors below. Check them out now!

#1: Top 7 facts about building a self storage facility

If you’re a new owner thinking about getting into self storage, or you currently own a storage property and you’re looking to expand, this blog post is for you. There is more than 2.35 billion square feet of self storage space in the U.S. - three times the size of Manhattan Island. When you’re building, there are several factors that can affect your build, including population growth, solar power, city guidelines and codes, and self storage organizations.

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Read this post if:

  • Industry statistics and market research interest you.

  • You’re building a new storage facility or expanding a current facility.

  • You’re thinking about working with a property management company.

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As a new construction project, your facility has an advantage over established properties. Storage operators have become increasingly interested in green energy sources such as solar power and many are considering how they can implement it at their property. You have the ability to add them from the very beginning.

Though you’ll need to consider factors like how much sunlight your facility will receive, what kind of system you need, local and federal incentives, and how it will affect the image of your business, one of the most important considerations for solar power is cost. If photovoltaic cells cost an average of $40,000 to install on a single-family home, you can expect prices to go up from there, depending on the size and needs of your facility.

#2: How to build credibility as a new storage business in your community

Ready to open your doors to the public? Check out this post first. Even though you’ve worked your tail off to start a stellar new business, you still have to give customers a reason to choose you over your competitors. Building credibility is hard as a new business with no word of mouth customers and zero online reviews. This article goes over how new storage businesses can build credibility in their community using classic philosophical principles.

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Read this post if:

  • You want to know how to gain the trust of your community.

  • You want to test your business model against Aristotle’s principles.

  • You’re curious how you start community outreach as a new business.

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What can your business do to demonstrate good will? And why will this help you build credibility? Someone who is involved in charity or giving back to the community is seen as a good person, right? A business who gives something away can be seen as a good business. This can be as easy as giving a hefty discount to your customers for their first month of rent. Your customer gets something for nothing, and you gain their trust, and in turn, their loyalty. You could also sponsor a canned food drive or toy drive around the holidays, or find another way to give back to your community, showing that your business is concerned with good will.

#3: How to optimize your tenant’s rental experience

If you’re still in the process of figuring out your business model and choosing your website services, check out this post. The stats show that storage customers far and away prefer self service tools. In a recent consumer survey, 67% of respondents said they prefer using online self service tools over human contact when interacting with companies. Even more, 91% said they would prefer using an online knowledge base (like a FAQ page) over speaking with a representative on the phone. But consumers don’t just prefer online self service: 7 out of 10 consumers expect company websites to offer self service tools.

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Read this post if:

  • Visuals and data help you understand big picture ideas.

  • User experience (UX) studies interest you.

  • You’re looking to set up online rental tools for your customers.

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This morning I was buttering a slice of banana bread when suddenly I realized I forgot to pick up a Christmas gift for my father-in-law with only three days until Christmas. Cue instant panic over my otherwise relaxing breakfast.

I immediately opened up the Target app on my iPhone and started looking for something. Since I was so late to the game, shipping wasn’t an option, so I only looked at items available for purchase online and pickup in-store. I found something perfect for him - a book for Bourbon lovers - that was available for pickup in the Target nearby the storEDGE office. I completed the purchase online while waiting for my Keurig to brew my coffee to go. I swung by Target on my commute to the office and picked up the book, which was ready and waiting for me. Crisis averted. ‘Twas truly a Christmas miracle.

What does my over-dramatic Christmas shopping story have to do with self storage tenants? It’s all about self-service technology, the umbrella term for online tools like autopay, e-sign, online Rental Center™, and login portals for account management. Consumers expect online convenience, regardless of industry. Because of self-service convenience, I was able to easily fix my Christmas shopping mistake. I did some quick research and found exactly what I needed, all without ever leaving my kitchen.

#4: When is the perfect time to open a storage facility

All storage industry owners and managers know that self storage is seasonal. But how does that affect your facility if you live in a state with consistent weather like Arizona or California? This post analyzes seasonal storage unit rentals and helps you decide what time of year is best for opening a brand new storage facility to the public.

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Read this post if:

  • You’re curious about seasonal storage trends.

  • You’re opening a new self storage facility during the off-season.

  • You’re looking to smooth out the seasonal swing at your facility.

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Summer seems like it would be the most stressful time to open your storage facility, which may be the biggest reason to keep you from doing so. Keep in mind that, by this point in the year, your competitors have probably snagged up the majority of interested renters. At the same time, it could be worth the gamble and may not be too late to get in on the action.

If you open early enough in the summer and your property is located near a university, you could attract a ton of college student customers. I’d recommend offering month-to-month leasing terms, student specials, and convenient features like extended access and online bill pay to attract this market. Once the summer rush ends, you can immediately begin gearing up marketing for your self storage facility to attract the college student market next year.

#5: 7 ways to boost the value of your RV and boat storage facility

Think RV, boat, and vehicle storage is the same as regular self storage? Think again. Because of the higher price tag, RV and boat storage customers have a totally different mindset than traditional self storage customers - they expect more and they’ll pay more for it. Check out this blog post if you’re opening a specialty storage facility to make sure you’re offering the right services to niche storage customers.

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Read this post if:

  • You’re curious about the difference between specialty storage customers and traditional self storage customers.

  • Your property is nearby a popular recreational or waterfront area.

  • You’re thinking about getting into a niche storage market.

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When you have millions of dollars parked on your property, it’s important to keep a close eye on them at all times. If you’re in the RV and boat storage market, security is one place you should definitely not cut corners. One of the first questions many RV, boat, and vintage vehicle owners will ask you is, “what kind of security do you have?” Make it an easy question to answer by getting top of the market security features for your facility.

  • Gated access
  • 24-hour video monitoring
  • Partnerships with local police
  • Secure property fencing
  • Personalized key fobs
  • Individual unit alarms
  • Fire sprinklers

Advanced security features can be expensive to implement. But in specialty storage, the extra expense can set you apart from other facilities in the market and allow you to charge a premium rate. The more security features you have to offer, the more peace of mind you can give your customers.

#6: How to tap into the wine storage market at your facility

Another niche storage blog post? Of course! Specialty storage is becoming more and more popular, so we’ve been putting out more resources for storage owners and investors who are interested in niche and specialty storage. If you’re in the right market, wine storage can help you gain a lot of new business at a premium rate. Check out this post to learn the ins and outs of wine storage and the unique challenges that come with this niche market.

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Read this post if:

  • Your facility offers climate controlled units.

  • You’re thinking about getting into a niche storage market.

  • The market you’re in supports class A storage facilities (scroll down this post to find out the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) guidelines for class A facilities).

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If you have climate-controlled units at your facility, guess what? You might already have the capabilities of creating the perfect atmosphere for storing wine, and you could soon be storing valuable collections for sommeliers and wine collectors as quickly as you can adjust the temperature on your climate controlled units’ thermostat. But keep in mind, having temperature control doesn’t mean you’re controlling humidity, too. If you advertise wine storage, you need to make sure that you can control the humidity in your units, or you might have a lot of angry winos on your hands, and it won’t be pretty. Furthermore, your climate controlled units must be interior units, and you must be diligent about ensuring that your tenants do not prop open the outer door. If the door is open too long or too often, it can significantly offset the humidity and temperature inside your building, and it can happen more quickly than you think. It’s best for the entire climate-controlled interior area of a building to be set aside for wine storage to keep these conditions constant.

#7: The 7 biggest misconceptions about unmanned facilities

It seems like everywhere you look, new facilities are opening that are running automated and completely unmanned. In this post, we dig into this trend and explore how and why more storage owners are choosing to run their self storage properties without managers on-site.

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Read this post if:

  • You’re curious how unmanned properties run their day-to-day business operations.

  • You’re looking to buy an on-site kiosk for your facility.

  • Real-world examples interest you.

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When I spoke with unmanned facility owner Mike Castleman for a recent client spotlight, he noted plans to get rid of the on-site kiosk at one of his automated properties.

“To me, the kiosk is just more hardware. In my opinion, the modern day version of the kiosk is the smartphone. It’s the ‘kiosk in a pocket’ idea. The only thing smartphones can’t do is spit out a lock. It’s just like when you go to take a flight. You book your flight from home and you get your ticket through your phone. You can do it all from your house and you don’t have to wait in line to talk to a person or use an airport kiosk.” Mike Castleman Castlerock Interests, LLC

#8: How (and why) to prevent live-in renters

An essential read for any new self storage owner, this article is our most popular blog post of all time. Before you open your business doors to the public, read this article to look into one of the biggest problems faced by the self storage industry and how storage owners can handle this tricky situation compassionately and legally.

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Read this post if:

  • Visuals and data help you understand big picture ideas.

  • You’re reading up on the legal issues of owning a storage facility.

  • You’ve had personal experience dealing with economic hardship.

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Keith Morelli’s article in The Tampa Tribune explores the increasing trend of homeless turning to self storage units for shelter. Lesa Weikel, with the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, explains why storage units are a viable option for those who are living off extremely sparse incomes or no incomes at all: “People are just trying to find some place safe that they can afford.”

With the number of security features that many storage facilities promote, it’s understandable why a unit would seem like a safe alternative to a pricey apartment.

If you search for homelessness in your area, you’ll find that a number of different news stories, statistics, and helpful resources populate the search results page. For my own search, Synergy Services, established right here in KC, educates users about its integrated programs and how they have positively affected more than 40,000 people in 2012 alone. I’m betting you can find similar information for your area. When you look at the numbers and facts for your city and truly put yourself in the mindset of an individual or family facing dangerous economic times, a storage unit doesn’t seem like such a bad place to turn.

#9: Understanding solar energy, its cost, and how to efficiently plan for its use

Building an energy efficient facility? It’s important to understand solar energy before buying solar panels or investing in solar technology for your facility. Read this post to find out the pros and cons of solar energy for storage owners, and learn how your business can start running off the grid to save money long-term.

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Read this post if:

  • Visuals and data help you understand big picture ideas.

  • You’re investing in an energy efficient facility.

  • You’re curious about solar energy in your state.

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It’s clear that solar energy, having been around for years, is now far more efficient and cost effective than it has ever been. But what about the initial investment? How can you make an educated decision about converting? Here are some things to keep in mind when setting out to implement your solar energy conversion plan:

  • Solar energy is not practical in all regions. Consider your location. Some cities make it illegal to disconnect from the grid. Other regions don’t support the products. Also, remember that the weather is important as well. Storage facilities have lots of roof space, but if you live in a place that gets little to no sun throughout the year, then solar energy may not be viable.

  • Photovoltaic cells are expensive to install. In fact, average upfront expense for installation on a single-family home is somewhere in the region of $40,000. Your facility is probably larger and uses more electricity, so expect the price to be doubled or tripled. You will immediately begin to save money, but you’ll have to make the investment in time and money before you’ll see returns.

  • Federal and state government incentives are available. Despite the fact that installation of a solar energy grid is not cheap, there are programs designed to help you out. While it isn’t clear how long the money will last, government funding can help those that convert to renewable energy. This could be enough to help you make the shift.

#10: What 'climate controlled' storage actually means

Before you advertise your facility’s units as climate controlled, read this post to find out if your units are actually meeting climate control standards and learn how to avoid liability from advertising your units as such. Find out what tenants expect and what you need to do to get your units to meet climate control standards.

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Read this post if:

  • You offer interior, temperature-regulated storage.

  • You’re curious about best practices for storing household items like art, paper, and electronics.

  • Learning how stuff works and reading about science interests you.

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Pro tip: train employees to avoid making guarantees around temperature or humidity when talking to customers about climate controlled units. (I.e. - “Your unit should always be at X temperature.") Why? Because these oral representations could be used by an dissatisfied tenant to claim fraud or deceptive trade practices. The good news is, by having something in writing stating your facility’s definition of climate controlled, it will make it much more difficult for a tenant to make a legal claim against you. If you have climate controlled units, it is always a good idea to double check with your legal counsel and insurance provider to make sure that your advertising and lease agreements do not impose increased liability on your facility.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: How to Manage Facility Reviews: 10 of the Best Resources to Bookmark, Top 10 Blogs That Will Help You Understand SEO, and Top 10 Blogs That Will Make You a Better Marketer.