The self-storage industry has grown at an annual rate of 7.7% over the past five years, and with rising consumer spending and population growth, is expected to continue to expand.
That’s good news for investors, but if you already own one or more self-storage facilities, it also means you’re likely to face stiff competition from both individual investors and large companies, seeking to make their mark in self-storage.
Don’t throw into the towel, however. As with any asset type, the best way to beat the competition is to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
In self-storage, a niche which is increasingly become more sophisticated, investors have begun offering a variety of amenities in order to attract and retain customers.
Below are several popular amenities to consider adding to your facility.
One of the main concerns of customers is whether they and their valuables will be safe in your facility. There are several steps you can take in order to ensure the safety of stored items.
Add Interior and Exterior Lighting
Indoor and outdoor lighting is the bare minimum for a self-storage facility. Lighting should cover parking areas, walkways, and door entrances and exits, and should preferably turn on automatically when it becomes dark outside.
Pay attention to the type of light used as well. Yellow lights outdoors provide a softer light than you might need, while inside you’ll want areas to be well-lit without seeming too harsh.
Outside, make sure lighting is evenly spaced throughout the area, and that it can’t be easily vandalized. Indoors, make it easy for customers to turn on the lights without needing to enter the building, and be sure to provide ample lighting in stairways and hallways.
Get a 24-hour video surveillance
24-hour video surveillance is an essential component of a well-planned security system. The enhanced visibility you gain will not only allow you to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but it will also deter opportunistic criminals.
Use Tamper-Proof Locks
Upgrade doors and locks to disc locks, which were specifically created for storage facilities and are the industry standard. Unlike padlocks or keylocks, this type of lock cannot be removed with bolt cutters, since the hasp is designed to be hard to reach. You can’t hit it with a hammer, either.
You can’t pick a disc lock either and in fact, the only way to remove a disc lock is to grind it off, which requires special tools, makes a lot of noise, and is a pain in the neck to do. Plus, because the lock is stainless steel, it won’t rust.
As a bonus, some insurance companies offer low premiums to self-storage facilities that use this type of lock, so they are well worth the cost of installation.
Install a Passcode Protected Fence With a Gate
Although a determined thief will climb a fence, a fence surrounding the property will prevent vandalism and reduce theft, as well as ensure only tenants and employees have access to the facility.
In the self-storage world, the terms climate controlled and temperature-regulated are often used interchangeably.
In reality, they are not the same thing, the main difference being that temperature controlled units do not control humidity. Both temperature and humidity affect the level of moisture in a room since high humidity levels heat up a room faster, and lower humidity levels keep the temperature down.
In order to keep both temperature and humidity down, climate controlled facilities employ sophisticated HVAC systems, customizable thermostats, and dehumidifiers.
However, you should note that climate controlled units may not be the best option for all tenants. Because HVAC units work by adjusting the temperature, tenants that need pure temperature control should not use this type of unit, since temperatures will fluctuate too frequently for the items stored within.
Climate controlled units are useful for storage of electronic equipment like printers, cameras, or computers; to store sensitive documents, protect wooden furniture, and prevent metal appliances or equipment from rusting.
Although expensive to install, these units are not only popular but come at a 20%-70% premium, making them worth the consideration.
Vehicle storage allows tenants to free up more space at their home by parking their cars, boats, RV’s and trucks when they aren’t being used. If you plan on including this amenity, it’s worth it to offer space for both cars and larger vehicles.
Some owners have begun targeting niche populations in order to boost profits.
Businesses needing to store extra inventory and supplies, free up office space, and archive important documents often utilize storage units. By adding conference rooms with computer access, printers, phones, and a WiFi connection, owners hope to attract more business owners.
These owners are tapping into the trend of virtual workspaces. Employees of this type of business often work out of the home and lack space to meet with clients and prospects. Other businesses may lack the space to host larger events; these conference spaces are meant to offer them an alternative to expensive conference rooms at a hotel.
And here’s a bonus amenity:
In-Home Pickup And Delivery Of Items
Although a fairly new service, a small number of owners have begun to offer concierge services. For a fee, the facility will send someone to pick up your items, pack them, and store them in the facility. They also offer item retrieval and delivery of stored items.
When deciding what type of amenity to include in your facility, there are several factors you’ll need to take into consideration. First, ask yourself is the amenity you’re considering suits your tenant base. Some amenities, like increased security, will be appreciated by any tenant, but others are unique to a specific location and tenant type.
If you’re unsure, you can always check what your competitors offer, or ask tenants what features they’d be willing to pay for if they were instituted. In order to ensure that tenants will actually be willing to pay if these changes are instituted, offer to place interested tenants on a waiting list for a small, refundable fee; this will help gauge their willingness and give you some idea of the viability of that amenity.