Texas Self Storage Association has served its self-storage industry members since 1986.  Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, TSSA is the leading expert in self storage in the state of Texas.  Whether you're an owner, operator, manager or employee,  TSSA's blog will provide you with the latest tips, advice and knowledge for running your self-storage business. 

Top Five Tips to Take Your Facility to New Heights in 2023

by Mallory Scott, TSSA

1. Embrace technology and automation.

There will be no backsliding when it comes to technology and automation in the self-storage industry—the new tech is here for the long haul, and it is now expected by customers. Call centers, chatbots, AI assistants, smart units and locks, one-touch access, impressive security software and more have taken the industry by storm. But you don’t necessarily need all the new bells and whistles to keep up with the competition. Do some research to figure out which technology can best help automate your processes without breaking the bank.

2. Evaluate your customer experience.

Take an inventory of your website to ensure that your customer experience (CX) is easy and intuitive. Can current and potential customers quickly locate what they are looking for online? Is your online rental process converting leads to customers or are you noticing people abandoning the process mid-way through? This is a major red flag alerting you that your customer experience is not what it should be, and some tweaks should be made in order to secure more paying tenants. Make sure that your online rental process is smooth and simple, and correct any bumps in the road that can potentially have a negative impact on the CX.

3. Keep up with facility upkeep.

There are many facets to this one. You want to make sure that your facility has curb appeal, but that it is well maintained in every sense of the phrase as well. Your facility should look great to passersby and to potential tenants, but you also want to create an environment that evokes a great sense of pride and security from tenants while storing their items at your facility. Keep up with security lighting on the outside of your buildings, but also keep an eye out to ensure there is adequate lighting inside your buildings as well. Walk your property often to monitor for any strange activity occurring onsite. Unit numbers and doors should be maintained as well. Your facility is a direct reflection of you, so make sure it is one you want to look at.

4. Get social with it.

Social media is a 100% free tool to use to help market your facility and boost visibility within your local community. Are you taking advantage of social media to engage with customers and promote specials and events? It’s fairly simple to start posting on social channels and maintaining your presence can be easy, too. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok...oh my! There are endless FREE opportunities to put your business out there and reach a much broader audience. Unless you are paying for Google ads, social media is the next best thing to help you reach your target market. #socialmediaforthewin

5. Customer service still matters.

No matter how much technology you adopt or how automated your facility is, personalized customer service is still a vital component in the self-storage industry. Even if you are renting online and have automated several processes for efficiency, you will notice that customers still need the personal touch—that tenant you know by name who comes to the facility often and gets a glimmer in their eye when you wave “hello” and address by name—you can’t replace that with technology. That tenant will be loyal to your company brand because of the human experience. Don’t let go of that.

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Top Five Tips to Take Your Facility to New Heights in 2023

Adopt the Kaizen Strategy; Pursue Continuous Improvement

by Don McMinn

Fifty years ago, when I first started traveling internationally, all luggage was heavy and carried by hand. Thirty years ago, a Delta pilot had the good idea of putting two wheels on luggage so it could we pulled. Travel Pro was the first company to produce the wheeled luggage. Twenty years ago, manufacturers started putting four wheels on luggage, making it easier to manipulate. Ten years ago, manufacturer’s started using lightweight materials. When empty, I can pick up my large suitcase with one finger.

What will be the next improvement in luggage? We don’t know, but it will happen because the luggage industry will continue to improve its prosaic, simple product. This continuous improvement is a good example of the Kaizen strategy.

Here’s the backstory.

In 1950, 21 of Japan’s most important business leaders attended a dinner party in Tokyo. American statistician W. Edwards Deming was the keynote speaker. Deming said that the key to restoring Japan’s post-war economy was to pursue a simple strategy of continuous improvement of all products and services. Collectively, and without regulatory or legislative involvement, these leaders adopted Deming’s recommendations, which eventually led to a manufacturing and economic renaissance.

In two decades, Japanese products, which had been referred to as “Jap scrap,” became synonymous with “quality” and “super-engineering.” These quality improvement methods took Japan, within one generation, from a country that had been completely destroyed in 1945 to the number two economic power in the world. The Japanese called the process “kaizen,” which means “continuous betterment” or “continuous improvement.”

How can we benefit from this simple concept?

Never be content with the way things are; continually strive to make things better. Adopt the mindset that everything is a work in progress and that incremental improvements can always be made. Continually ask, “How can this be improved?”

Apply the Kaizen strategy to your personal life. Make it part of your modus operandi.

  • Embrace the thought that everything – all products and systems – can be improved. How you make your coffee in the morning, your vacations, your library – everything can be improved. Even things that are mundane and simple – brushing your teeth – can be improved.
  • Look for small, incremental changes, not just large major changes.
  • Kaizen is continuous; don’t ever stop searching for ways to make something better.
  • Leaders, this is an important part of your job. Apply the Kaizen method to all processes, systems, services, events, and products. If your organization is large enough, create a position dedicated to Kaizen, someone who will constantly consider ways for every part of the organization to improve.


Don McMinn is an author who has written about a wide range of subjects from emotional health and wellbeing to a children's book on Proverbs. Don has a Ph.D. in classical music, is a frequent traveler, lover of art and wine and is continually seeking enrichment in his personal and professional life. Read more of Don's blog posts here.


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Adopt the Kaizen Strategy

How Communication Saved My Business After a Flood
by JoLea Conn, All*Star Storage

When our facility flooded several years ago, more than 300 units were affected. Although I had not been through this type of natural disaster, I knew that communicating with customers was the most important thing I could do, especially in the beginning. I contacted tenants through email, text, phone calls and even social media, and was available through all those channels as well. I sent updates regularly and answered any questions and concerns throughout the entire process.

We have web-based management software, so I was able to work offsite from anywhere I could get Internet access. I also carried our hard files in boxes around with me in my vehicle just in case customers needed any information while we were not able to have a physical presence in our office due to damage from the storm.

Everyone was extremely anxious and understandably on edge, and just being able to communicate with me in some form or fashion was a huge relief for most of my tenants. Only a portion of the facility flooded, so some tenants received good news that their belongings were high and dry. It was a nice to be able to sprinkle some good news in with all of the bad. I sent out mass communications about which units were affected, but some wanted that extra confirmation which I was able to provide in a private conversation.

Another huge project was contacting all those who needed to clear out their units but had not responded to the mass communications. In general, contact information changes all the time, so occasionally we had to call emergency contacts and access rights contacts to help track people down.

We also had to keep crystal clear documentation during this whole process—it would have been utter chaos if we had not taken the time to do this. We kept track of who came to clear out their unit, who was finished, who was still removing items, who had transferred and into a different unit, who would be returning and who would not be returning. We had to get our bills paid and take payments from those who were not affected, all while not being able to work in our office. We finally decided to set up a temporary office outside our front door so that we could be available to answer questions and give guidance.

We were completely cleaned up and damage-free within six weeks. We were extremely lucky to be able to move back into our office and return to normal fairly quickly. Just as with most things in life, communication was our saving grace, and it could be yours, too, especially during a crisis or natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, fire, tornado, etc. Put in the effort and do it right, and it will end up saving you time and money.

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How Communication Saved My Business After a Flood

Your Sales Tax Questions Answered
From Tax-Exempt Customers to Sales Tax Permits
by Connie Heyer, TSSA Legal Counsel

Some of the more frequently asked questions I receive are about sales tax, including sales tax on parking. To assist you in your sales tax dilemmas, I have included those FAQs below.

Why do I have to charge sales tax when a storage space is used for parking? 

The short answer is, “Because it’s the law.” Sales tax is not due on the rental of most self-storage units. However, sales tax must be collected if the rented space is used to park a vehicle. A vehicle includes most anything required to be registered—everything from passenger cars to trailers and RVs. The size of the vehicle does not matter—the tax treatment is the same.

What is the general rule?

Your facility has the duty to collect sales tax on all rents and charges received for vehicle or trailer parking or storage. Your facility needs to collect the monies from the customer and remit them to the state.

What if I just rent a whole area of my facility to one tenant for parking, and don’t know how many cars are parking in it?

You need to pay sales tax on the total rent received; it does not matter how many cars are parked in the field. If you rent an area of your parking lot for $100/month, then you simply pay sales tax on the basis of rent of $100/month.

What kinds of things do I have to collect this parking sales tax on?

In other words, what is a “motor vehicle” subject to tax? Namely, it is cars, trucks, RVs, motor homes, truck trailers, boat trailers (without a boat on them), travel trailers (but not mobile homes), pop-up trailers, golf cart trailers (but not golf carts), tow dollies, tractor trailers and motorcycle trailers. Just about anything that moves on a highway or is attached to something that moves on a highway qualifies.

What if I collect rent for parking but don’t collect the tax?

Your facility is liable for payment of the parking taxes if the customer pays the rent but not the tax.

What if the customer pays nothing, including rent?

If the customer pays nothing (defaults on rent payments), no tax is due. Your tax duties relate to rent collected.

There are always exceptions, what are they?

There is no duty to collect and remit tax on an occupied boat trailer (trailer with a boat on it), or golf cart trailer with a golf cart on it, or unlicensed off-road motorcycle trailers with an off-road motorcycle on it.

What if the car in the rented storage space comes and goes?

In my opinion it does not matter; you have rented the space for parking and sales tax is due on the rent.

Does it matter whether the vehicle is stored inside or outside?

No, sales tax is due no matter whether storage is indoor or outdoor.

What if a vehicle is stored in an enclosed unit, and there is other stuff stored in there, too?

Sales tax must be paid on the dollar amount of all rents actually received by the parking/storage facility operator for the service of parking or storage. If the car takes up half of the unit, and other stuff is stored in the other half, you could in the lease say $X rent attributable to parking storage, and $Y attributable to non-parking storage. But, that may be more trouble than it’s worth, and may cause confusion with the comptroller. It is a business decision for you, and you should consult your own lawyer or accountant, but it might make sense just to charge tax on the entire rent and not open the door to questions in that regard.

What if I don’t know a vehicle is stored inside a unit?

Once you find out, start collecting and remitting sales tax. The TSSA lease expressly prohibits storage of motor vehicles without your express consent, so legally there should not be vehicle storage that you don’t know about. If you do allow vehicle or boat storage, it is strongly recommended that you use the TSSA Vehicle Trailer and Boat Self-Storage Rental Agreement.

What about a large mobile barbecue pit?

Mobile barbeque pits are considered to be motor vehicles (and subject to storage tax) or not based on the following test: Barbeque pits that have been mounted on flatbed trailers are motor vehicles and the charge for storage are taxable. Barbeque pits that have had wheels and axels mounted on them are movable specialized equipment and charges for storage are not taxable.

What if my customer is tax exempt?

Exemptions from the sales tax include: (1) parking or storage charges paid by governmental entities, and (2) parking or storage charges paid by religious, educational, or charitable entities that sign an exemption certificate and give it to the parking facility operator. Such exemption certificates must be kept on file for Comptroller audit purposes in case the sales tax reports are ever questioned.

Can I pay the tenant’s tax? Do I have to note in my ads or my lease that tax is due?

Your lease can state (you could insert into TSSA lease paragraph 6, special provisions, for example) that the “rental price includes sales tax.” But your lease must contain this language if this is your practice. And if your price includes sales tax, obviously you must remit the sales tax to the comptroller. For example, say your rent is $50/month and your lease says that this includes sales tax. You must back out the 8.25% tax. So, your rent income is really $46.19, and you must remit $3.81 to the comptroller. If you’re passing the sales tax through to your tenant separate and apart from the rent, you don’t have to include special language in your lease. If you provide an invoice or receipt to tenants, then you must separately state the sales tax amount on the invoice or receipt unless it contains a statement that the price includes sales tax. Parking signs, parking advertisements and other promotional information for parking cannot say that the parking facility operator pays the sales tax. However, they can (a) be silent on the tax; (b) say the price includes sales tax; (c) say the price is “plus tax.”

How do I get a sales tax permit?

If you allow vehicle storage, you must obtain a Comptroller’s sales tax permit and begin to make monthly, quarterly or yearly sales tax payments to the Comptroller. As a general rule, if you have less than $1,500 in sales tax per quarter you may file quarterly. If you have less than $1,000 sales tax per year, you may file yearly “upon authorization from the comptroller.” Authorization will depend on historical sales tax filings. You may call the comptroller at (800) 252-5555 to discuss this.

If I have a sales tax permit, what if I don’t have any taxes to report for the reporting period?

Even if you don’t have any taxes to report for your reporting period, you must submit a return for that period to the comptroller.

What other parts of my business are taxable?

Boxes, tape, snack foods and other products for sale. Also, you must collect and remit sales tax on all proceeds from your Ch. 59 auctions (with the exception of sales of vehicles and boats, outboard motors and buyers with exemption certificates or resale certificates).

What about free rent or other “giveaways”?

If you occasionally give away free rent, a disk lock, boxes or other taxable items as part of a promotion, sales tax is still due. You must pay sales tax at one “end” of the transaction, regardless of whether you give the items away. In this instance you would pay sales tax on the items given away such as boxes and tape, based on their purchase price from the wholesaler. For free rent, you would remit sales tax for the full rent. The “giveaway” items should be categorized as a “taxable purchase” on your sales tax return, reportable on line three of your sales tax return.

Is sales tax due only on rent, or on late fees and other charges related to default under the lease?

The Texas Comptroller’s office appears to have recently changed its long-standing position on this matter. The Comptroller as TSSA understands it is now taking the position that sales tax must be paid on all fees of any kind collected under a lease that contemplates parking.

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Your Sales Tax Questions Answered

Preparing to Use Your New TSSA Rental Agreement 

by Kristy Breaux, TSSA Deputy Executive Director

One of the most important benefits of membership in TSSA is the right to use the renowned TSSA Rental Agreement. Having a basic understanding of the contract’s terms, as well as the decisions you as the business owner must make, is a great place to start. With this blog, we will focus on Page 1 of the lease, which includes all the items that are not simply defaults (in other words, things that will need to be filled in at the time of rental or decided in advance.) 

The TSSA Rental Agreement is a lease contract between you and the tenant outlining all fees and responsibilities. The agreement informs the tenant of your policies and protects you from damages, lack of payment, or other circumstance that may arise. If this is your first time using the printed TSSA Rental Agreement (or e-Lease if using electronically), this guide will help you get started. For a more detailed look at the terms of the lease you can read this blog or watch this short video
The first section, Tenant Information, collects the contact information for the tenant. The customer will need to identify who should have access to enter the unit and who should be notified in case of emergency.  That can be the same person or two different people. It’s important to note that the emergency contact (unless named as having access rights) is not authorized to enter the unit unless there is legal reason for such. Additionally, anyone listed as authorized to enter the unit may be given account information. If the person listed as authorized to enter does not have a key, facility staff may assist by cutting the lock. It’s helpful to explain these things to the tenant during the lease process. In either case, neither the person with access rights nor the emergency contact have a financial responsibility. This falls solely on the tenant listed.  

TSSA recommends that only one person or business be listed on Line 1. Spouses or significant others can be listed as having access rights. That way, you are only obligated to deal with one tenant, who makes all decisions regarding the contract.  


Paragraph 2 asks the important question about military service. (Special rules apply to foreclosures and evictions of military personnel because of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, so you need this answer.) Form ADD-4 may be used as an addendum for lease agreements with service members.  

This paragraph also explains the tenant’s obligation to keep information updated. If the tenant moves or is unreachable, the burden is on them to make you aware of current contact information so that any communication you send reaches them. 

Paragraph 3 is the space commitment. The minimum lease term is the minimum number of months the tenant is obligated to the terms of the contract. Most members use a default of one month, but you can use a longer minimum if your customer agrees to it. After that initial period, the tenant leases from you on a month-to-month basis. The obligation to pay rent stays in place until the tenant provides a 10-day move-out notice as outlined in paragraph 9 of the lease. 

You can use forms ADD-10 or ADD-11 if the tenant is storing a vehicle, boat, or RV, in addition to renting the unit. Or, TSSA does offer a rental agreement specifically designed for storage of vehicle, boat, trailer or RV when the tenant is renting a parking space or enclosure rather than a regular self-storage unit.  If your facility offers exclusively boat and RV storage, you’ll want to consider using the Vehicle, Boat and Trailer Rental Agreement.  


Paragraph 4 details the rental rates, late fees, and all charges for non-compliance. While the rental rate may change based on the unit size (if you offer a variety of unit sizes or amenities), the remainder of the fees are generally the same for all tenants.  Checking to see what neighboring facilities are specifying for each of these charges is usually a good place to start. Things like charges for the newspaper ads you must run in the event of a foreclosure requires a little research on your part, as you’ll want to cover your costs. Only fees outlined in the contract and accepted as terms by the tenant may be charged, so it’s always better to have these dollar amounts filled in, even if you don’t intend to charge them on a regular basis. There is not a guideline on setting these rates, but we can help you understand each line item so you can make an informed decision. 

A. This is the dollar amount the tenant is expected to pay in rent each month until the tenant notifies you of move-out and vacates the space. 

B. What date is the rent due? Some facilities have all customers pay rent on the 1st of the month while others use the anniversary date of the tenant’s move-in and collect rent throughout the month. The 1st of the month is the most common due date. Be sure to check your management software for your options on rental due dates. 

C. This is the date and the amount charged if the rent is not received. You will need to decide if you will give a grace period and then choose either a date or number of days. For instance, on the 5th of the month a late fee will apply, or 4 days after the 1st a late fee will apply. If you are using the e-Lease, it may be helpful to see what your management software offers as default process for late fees. Some require a specific day of the month and some use a sequential number of days before a late fee kicks in. 

D. In the same format as above, complete this if you will charge a second late fee if rent remains unpaid. 

When determining what fee, if any, to charge for E through O you will have to decide what pass-through costs may apply—staff time, and other required resources, etc. PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to apply a fee to these specific line items, but if you choose not to, you cannot charge the tenant later for these specifics.  If you never intend to charge a fee for an item, you should indicate $0 as to not have any empty blanks on the agreement.

Paragraph 5, Payments and Notices, allows you to indicate what payment methods—cash, check, or credit card—you will or will not accept.  Please note that you can change the method of acceptable payment in the future after giving notice to the tenant. 

Paragraph 6, Special Provisions, allows you to add any pertinent facility rules that may not be addressed in the lease. This may be guidelines for parking, notice of a required lock type, gate access rules, etc. 

If you have a lengthy list of rules, you will want to consider using an addendum, indicating that rules addendum in Paragraph 7. 

Paragraph 7 is the place you’ll indicate any addendum you use on an ongoing basis.  If you generate a particular addendum with every lease, you can have this hard-coded into your e-Lease so this remains checked and ensures your facility manager has communicated this to your tenant. Some software programs will require the addendum to be sent to the tenant separately from the lease. In any case, if any addendum is checked on the lease, the tenant is signing off that they have received and agreed to the terms, so you need to provide the tenant those documents.

Signature block—To e-sign or not? 
Lastly, the signature block completes the agreement between the lessee and the lessor. If you are using the e-Lease you will need to understand how your management software processes the electronic signature. Some will have a fully integrated system with a digital signature option and others will generate a PDF that may require the tenant to insert a signature and send back to you for completion. 

If you have further questions on setting up your new TSSA Rental Agreement, please contact us at 512-374-9089 or elease@txssa.org. 

Additional Resources:

Blog: Lease Essentials

Video: Rental Agreement Overview   

Additional Forms and Addenda (Requires Membership Log In)

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Natural Disasters and Casualty Events—Now What?

by TSSA Legal Counsel

Texas weather has always been a little unpredictable, but the in the last five years we have seen some devastating natural disasters and casualty events. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the coast, the ice storm of 2021 basically shut down the entire state for almost a week, sporadic hailstorms and most recently, tornadoes, devastating winds and flooding affected many parts of the state. It's important to create a natural disaster plan so that you and your onsite staff know exactly what to do before the unexpected happens. Click here to read an article on developing a disaster plan for your facility.

In this blog post, we will provide links to helpful Self-Storage News magazine articles written by members who have been impacted by casualty events, TSSA Goldbook© legal articles on natural disasters and TSSA forms that you may need if your facility is affected by severe weather events.

First Steps

The most important first step in the wake of a casualty event or natural disaster is communication—communication with your tenants, your insurance company and the appropriate authorities if necessary. Click here to read a Self-Storage News article on how communication can help save your business.

There is an article in the TSSA Goldbook© that details step-by-step instructions on how to handle a plethora of casualty events, including fire, windstorm (ripping roof off), flood/water penetration and more. Click here to read a legal article detailing emergency instructions for onsite managers after a casualty event has occurred. 

Many of the steps listed in the legal article above are appropriate for several different types of natural disasters, but depending on the damage your facility sustained, additional steps may be required—such as securing the scene to ensure no one is injured. It may be more than putting an overlock on an unsecured unit—it may also include bringing in a rented fence to help secure an area where a wall or roof has blown off (often insurance will pay for this). Some of the other challenging issues to address are:

How long should we wait before letting tenants in to look for their things?

The answer to this question depends on the extent of damage at the facility. If the facility has been so damaged that allowing tenants in would potentially be unsafe, check with the police department or fire department for their recommendations and follow them. If the police or fire department have no recommendations, use your own judgment, but if there is the potential for harm (any potential for structural compromise), you should try and have all tenants sign a release prior to entry. At the very minimum, you should have a sign at the facility so that when tenants who demand to enter will see it. The sign should be very conspicuous and should say something like: “Danger, enter at your own risk. Due to [Tornado, Flood, Structural Damage, etc.] this facility has sustained extensive damage, including extensive potential structural damage. Hardhats are available in the office, and you are encouraged to wear one.” Consider having a supply of hardhats on hand for tenants to borrow. Also, photograph the sign in place, and document the date it was posted.

How do we get the tenants out of our facility so that we can bulldoze the whole thing and rebuild?

Paragraph 9 of the TSSA lease gives you the right to terminate the lease if the space is “substantially damaged” by a casualty (in your sole judgment) by emailing, mailing or hand delivering five days advance written notice of termination to tenant. Click here to download TSSA Form BUS-22, Five Day Notice of Termination Due to Casualty. 

Also, if you are using a TSSA lease version dated 2006 or later, paragraph 26 of the lease provides that a unit will be “deemed abandoned” if, due to a casualty, the unit contains nothing of value to the ordinary person and the tenant fails to remove his or her items from the space within 10 days after you mail the tenant TSSA Form BUS-11, Notice of Abandonment Due to Casualty. This can greatly assist you if a casualty “wipes out” the facility or several units and it is clear that there is nothing of value left to retrieve from the unit(s). Having a unit be legally abandoned according to Paragraph 26 of the TSSA lease gives you the right to consider all of the tenant's rights to the space's contents terminated, and gives you the right to dispose of all contents. Click here to download TSSA Form BUS-11.

How long must we wait for a tenant’s response before we can bulldoze?

If the tenant’s contents are still identifiable (if the tenant’s unit still exists and it is feasible for them to come and retrieve the contents but they just haven't after you've made a request, you can send them TSSA Form E-1, 15-day Notice of Termination of Storage Space Rental Agreement. Click here to download TSSA Form E-1. It's always preferable to be understanding of the circumstances, but you will probably have to give a specific date for tenants to respond and to retrieve the items they want. If the tenant does not respond, then give the tenant a 15-day notice of lease termination. If in your judgment there is nothing that is potentially recoverable from the tenant’s space, then we recommend sending the tenant TSSA Form MISC-3, Notice of Abandonment, informing the tenants in question that new rent ceased as of the day of the weather event, that all of the contents of his unit are either lost or damaged beyond any potential use, and that within a certain number of days the contents will be deemed abandoned and disposed of unless the tenant can immediately come to the facility to look at and claim any contents that are wanted.

How should our facility handle delinquent tenants now that we don’t have any collateral due to the damage that a natural disaster caused?
If tenants were delinquent prior to the casualty and if any of their items are left behind, you can go through the standard Chapter 59 foreclosure process. If there are no items left behind, or if what is left behind has been destroyed to the point of having no value, you may either sue the tenant in small claims court for the delinquent balance or turn the tenant over to a collection agency after giving the tenant 10 days notice as required by paragraph 11 of the TSSA lease. Check your lease to make sure it has this language; some of the older versions of the lease do not. Click here to download TSSA Form BUS-10, Final Notice Before Collection Agency Fees Charged. Once you verify that your lease contains this language and you send this 10-day notice and receive no response, you may turn the matter over to a collection agency, which will collect the fees on your behalf, and the tenant will also be responsible for any charges the collection agency requires. For example, if the tenant owes you $500 and the collection agency charges you a 50% fee for collection, the tenant will then owe you $750.

Regardless of what you do and how you contact your tenant, document with photographs and video in as much detail as possible. This video will be your proof that items were damaged beyond any potential value.

Additionally, if you have items that are salvageable, but you do not hear from the tenant after your communications are sent, don’t forget that under paragraph 18 of the TSSA lease, you have the right to relocate the contents of a unit if relocation is needed to protect the contents or space from loss or damage from casualty or theft. Presumably all security at your facilities has been compromised, so theft or looting may be an issue. If this is your situation, I recommend relocating the contents to a more appropriate place. If you do relocate the contents, don’t forget that per paragraph 18 of the TSSA lease, the tenant is no longer liable for rent but is liable for reasonable storage charges only. Check your lease version (TSSA lease paragraph 18)—some of the older lease versions required different tenant notices after entry than the newer versions do. In closing, a little pre-planning for natural disasters and casualty events can greatly minimize potential hassles and liability exposure. Hopefully this has outlined some ideas for you to consider when determining the best protocol for your own needs.

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Natural Disasters and Casualty Events—Now What?

Everything You Need to Know About Online Auctions

by Sarah Cole, Oakcrest Management

As technology continues to advance, the self-storage industry is advancing with it. One of the most recent changes is with online auctions. Thanks to the hard work of TSSA, Matz & Co. and Connie Heyer pushing new legislation through, online auctions are now part of the Texas Property Code. Many companies started making this switch over the last few years, but the rest have been watching the industry to find out what is going to benefit their facilities the most. One of the best ways to figure out what will work for your facility is to weigh the pros and cons of both in-person and online auctions.

The concept of online auctions has been around for quite some time. Online auctions started with individuals selling and auctioning personal items on sites such as eBay. Now we have the ability to utilize online platforms to auction off the contents of storage units. 

Online auctions are not just another fad or trend.

When the TV show “Storage Wars” aired, self-storage auctions started get- ting some publicity and now the general public finally knows storage unit auctions are an actual thing. So why did the market start shifting to online auctions?

“Online auctions seem very interesting,” says Ashley Montessoro of Lockaway Self Storage. “It is something new, gets the property name out to a new group of people and seems like it may be easier on our managers.”

Lower attendance at more rural properties is the reason Ryan Rogers, managing partner at Store  Here Self Storage, started looking into online auctions. Online auctions open the door to more potential bidders, the bidders have more time to view the items in the unit and they have more time to bid.

Another reason is the amount of time it takes to conduct an in-person sale on auction day. “It is a disruption of the property’s normal business day,” says Rogers. “Especially if you have more than one location to visit, it takes up your entire day.”

April Young of Ultimate Properties says, “When traveling from property to property on auction day, the number of bidders dwindles and by the time you get to the last property, you’re lucky if you still have one or two people show up for the auction.”

Liability, liability, liability is what we hear at every legal session we go to when it comes to onsite auctions.

It is the overall liability of a group of people walking the property on auction day. What if someone trips and gets hurt?

“With online auctions,” Montessoro states, “There is also the bonus of not having a large crowd walking around the property once a month.”

Also, the worries we have about having to handle altercations are now gone when you use online auctions. “You also don’t have people coming onto the property and causing a stir with the customers,” notes Ann Parham of Joshua Management Corporation.

Buyer collusion can also be a problem with onsite auctions. “The people who follow the auctioneer know each other and they start to negotiate with one another before the unit is even up for auction. It causes price setting,” explains Parham.

Online auctions seem to solve a lot of potential concerns and issues we face every month, but still many of us are hesitant to make the switch.

“I’m not so sure it is hesitation that has kept us from switching as much as it is us wanting to keep those hands- on, face-to-face relationships with our bidders,” Young explains. “There is also a sort of comfort in knowing all of your paperwork is right and the auction was processed correctly.”

Even though they have only been doing online auctions a short time, Montesorro has noticed, “There is the potential to make simple mistakes when setting it up online. Your managers really need to pay close attention to detail or the auction may have to be cancelled.”

Some locations have a great auction crowd. Some of us like using an auctioneer who has their own following, which also gives us a second pair of eyes on our lien paperwork to ensure the sale is conducted properly. And some of us like to just get these auctions done and over with. Instead of waiting several days for online auctions to run, and then potentially another 24 to 48 hours for the highest bidder to come in and pay (unless they pay online); in-person auctions are all over in one day.

“Buyers not showing up to pay after bidding” is an issue Rogers has seen with online auctions. “With in-person auctions,” Rogers says, “We know right away if a buyer does not have the money and can sell it again quickly.”

Once you’ve weighed all the options and you’ve decided online auctions are the way to go, where do you begin to look to find the right online platform? When looking at all of the different options, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What is most important to you? Is it price or customer service that is the deciding factor? You want to know that the platform you use will back you up if there is a mix up or any issue with the auction. Here are a few of the platforms available to you (some of this information is taken directly from the company’s website).


According to their site, iBid4Storage. com has managed self-storage locations and been involved in the self-storage auction process in Canada and the United States for the past 22 years. “We continue to be innovators and leaders in the self-storage industry and have created a marketplace where both sellers and buyers of storage auction units can benefit and prosper.

“If you’re a storage unit owner or manager who is looking to recover your losses, online storage auctions are a great way to find bidders and to advertise your auction without the crowds and inconvenience that come along with having a physical storage auction at your facility. Research has shown that owners get three to five times more for foreclosed storage unit contents with an online sale.”

“We chose iBid4storage because they were friendly, acted like they were interested in gaining our business, were willing to negotiate rates and followed up consistently, even after gaining our business,” says Rindge Leaphart, COO of Oakcrest Management, Inc.


From the founder of Storage Battles, SelfStorageAuction.com is ready to revolutionize the storage industry. From their site: This new website for online and live self-storage auction listings is built to “provide the most safe, manageable and efficient platform for online self-storage auctions to be held.”

Most self-storage auctions are now being held online. “Our site not only speeds up the sales process, it completely eliminates the need for live, on-site auctions. Facilities can easily prepare auctions in advance and increase profits by expanding their customer base.”


Owned by Lonnie Bickford, StorageAuctions.com is a robust online auction site for foreclosed units. According to the StorageAuctions.com site, you can find the best storage unit auctions as a bidder and reach a faithful audience of bidders as a seller.

Storage facilities can also streamline their auction process by listing their inventory in one place for both live auctions and online auctions. Storageauctions.com reduces the hassle and you can list with confidence knowing your unit will be viewed by a much larger bidder base than those who might show up in person for a live auction.


According to their site, StorageStuff.Bid is made up of a combination of self- storage owners, licensed and experienced storage auctioneers and a team of technology partners who specialize in internet marketing and web design. “Together, we have more than 50 years of experience in the self-storage industry.

“We understand the needs and goals of storage owners and operators. We understand the consequences of accounts receivable and bad debt. We also know that storage operators are in the business of renting storage units, not selling them. We offer storage operators a quick and easy way to empty units that have gone through the lien and foreclosure process.”


StorageTreasures is a free, social site to find live onsite storage auctions or online auctions at any self-storage facility across the United States and Canada.

StorageTreasures.com was founded by SSA members and self-storage professionals who have more than 60 years of experience in the self-storage industry.

StorageTreasures has revolutionized the way in which the contents of self- storage units are marketed and publicly auctioned after the tenant has failed to pay rent. The site fills the gap between the operational systems that the industry currently utilizes and the public buyer who may be interested in the contents of a unit going to auction. The tools StorageTreasures provides allow the storage industry not only to comply with, but also exceed the intent of state laws governing the self-storage industry, protecting tenants and bidders alike.

“We use storagetreasures.com,” says Montesorro. “Another branch of our company has been using them for a couple of years now. Plus the customer service response, we have received from them is really nice.”


You’ve decided to give online auctions a try. You did your research and picked the online platform that suits your business. Now you ask yourself, how am I going to transition this new process?

What procedures should I follow to make sure I don’t miss selling a unit? Since several of us have been doing them for a while now, we have some suggestions. Remember everything up to your notice of sale and auction ad are the same:

1. Seize the unit

2. Send out the Notice of Claim

3. Inventory the unit for the auction ad

Now this is where the changes come into play.

4. When you publish the Notice of Public Sale in the newspaper, it must contain the following:

  • Statement that property is being sold to satisfy a landlord’s lien
  • Address of the facility (where the unit is located)
  • Website address for the auction
  • Start date/time and the end date/ time for bidding (and any other terms of sale)
  • Tenant’s name
  • General description of the property

5. Mailing a printed Notice of Public Sale to the Tenant is optional and not required by statute.

Next, list your units on the auction website. Most people take additional photos for the online auction in addition to the standard lock cut photos. Some supervisors find it easier to wait approximately five to 10 days before the auction starts to go back to the facility to get the additional photos they need.

“This is a great time to thoroughly review the auction file and make sure all of the notices were sent correctly,” says North Texas district  manager for Storage Depot Jay Hoger.  “The week before the auction starts is a great spot in the timeline to take the additional photos and upload them to the auction site because there are a lot of tenants who pay between lock cut and auction. Therefore, the closer you wait to the auction date to take the photos, the fewer units you will need to photograph.” Uploading the photos to the site a week before the auction is supposed to start will give prospective bidders the opportunity to preview the unit.

Double check… no… triple check that the photos match the unit you are listing. You don’t want to have an upset buyer come in and pay for a unit and then open the door to find out it does not contain the items pictured. Nor do you want to have to pull a unit from auction because you didn’t upload the photos or forgot to schedule a unit online for the auction.

When the auction ends, the auction site will notify you as well as the highest bidder with all of the pertinent information on the sale.

We have found it is best to wait until the buyer comes in to pay before closing out the sale. There is the occasional no-show and most of the auction sites will give you the second-place bidder’s information, so you can contact them to purchase the unit. However, TSSA legal counsel  Connie Heyer’s opinion is that the bidder is not required to pay at the facility—they can simply pay online. It is important for your auction rules to list all terms, including what will happen if the original bidder defaults on the sale. It is also important that the online auction site rules don’t conflict with your facility’s auction rules.

There are pros and cons with online auctions and a lot to consider when you are switching to a new procedure. As self-storage advances into the technological age, are you ready to advance with it by making the transition to online auctions?

Sarah Cole joined Storage Depot seven years ago as the audit manager. In addition to overseeing the audit process for the entire organization (32 stores and growing), she provides support to the management team regarding auctions, process improvements and general day-to-day operations. Sarah is also a degreed paralegal.

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Everything You Need to Know About Online Auctions

Winter Storm Provides Opportunity to Prove Grit, Help Tenants

by Holly Barr and Ginny Sutton, TSSA Staff
February 19, 2021

Texans are known for their grit. We pride ourselves on persevering through heat, drought, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.

And now we’ll add “ice and snow super storms” to the list. This 2021 weather event will be noted in our state history and will surely earn a footnote in future farmer’s almanacs. Heck, this storm even warranted a name—Uri. We aren’t used to having names for our little ice events.

Usually, our ice storms are short lived and for most of us, staying off the roads while they are happening is the only impact we experience. Snow is even rarer, but this event didn’t provide the fluffy white stuff of our dreams. Our typical ice storms don’t threaten the power grid for the state or leave thousands without power through rolling blackouts or even for three to four days. They also don’t leave the multitudes without water or scrambling to deal with water leaks from burst pipes. Those are typically isolated incidents, and sometimes we know one or two people who experienced that. This time, it’s all around us, or we are in the midst of it ourselves.

Experts are predicting that this event will break records for insurance claims totals, surpassing claims from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Events like this have at least one silver lining—they give all of us the chance to see what we’re made of and how tough we can be when it’s needed. Numerous times during the past week as our power was off—sometimes for more than 8-hour stretches—I found myself thinking, “Can you imagine what it was like to experience this kind of weather back when houses weren’t insulated, and electricity wasn’t in the picture?” Anytime I felt a bit whiny or was cold I would picture pioneer mothers with their children hunkered down inside of timber homes with gaps between the logs and my pity party would quickly dissipate.

In addition to being tough, our members are givers. A few of you have shared with us what you’re doing to help those in your communities, but we know there are countless others who’ve helped, too. Send us your stories, so we can continue to share and encourage each other. We sent out an email to members earlier this week with resources available on our website, in case you didn’t see it, you can go to our home page and you’ll find our link to disaster resources.

So, what’s next?

  • Busted pipes
  • Flooding
  • Clean up
  • Food and water needs
  • Drinking water
  • Waiting for plumbers or insurance adjustors
  • Communal contempt for ERCOT (kidding, kind of)…

Maybe you’re wondering how you can help your tenants during this time? Some ideas…

  • Do you have an extra case or two of water in storage? Can you share with your tenants when they come to the facility?
  • Be prepared for people bringing in potentially wet items and have a script planned for how to tell them they need to dry them out before storing. Help your managers with resources.
  • Do you have a plumber in your network? Can you ask them for advice to give your tenants while they are waiting for repairs? Anything to prevent further damage?
  • Have numbers on hand for your city’s water and electric emergency numbers to share with tenants if they seem unsure.
  • Homeowners and renters are encouraged to reach out to FEMA online at www.disasterassistance.gov or 800-621-3362 if they are in need.
  • If you have the capacity, can you become an information hub for tenant needs and resources? Even a bulletin board outside? (“I have” or “I need” labels with notes and pens for posting, or business cards for contractors can be helpful.)
Did your office experience water damage? If you lost your printed leases or Goldbook©, reach out, as we will replace those lost TSSA resources. If TSSA can help at this time, please call or email and let us know what you need. We are still answering the phones at 888-259-4902 during regular business hours, or you can email us at info@txssa.org. We also continue to post helpful items to our website and social media platforms.

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Winter Storm Provides Opportunity to Prove Grit, Help Tenants

When Storms Strike: Key Takeaways to Help You Prepare

by Taressa Dominguez

When disasters strike or hurdles arise, they can be unpredictable. And though you may not know the timing or extent of impact, you can prepare your facility and staff to tackle whatever comes at them by creating a plan of action that is precise enough for your staff and tenants know what to do and expect, but is also flexible enough to adapt to the situation. At the Bigger Ideas in Storage Conference, the Move It Self Storage team of Tim Springer, Tom Maxfield, Katie Cowen and Jesse Munoz shared their expertise on how to respond to disasters. With about half of their properties within 30 miles from the coast, preparing for a storm is a constant and top priority for Move It. Here are some key takeaways from their session for when a storm rolls in.

  • Plan ahead and prepare for the worst so you can make the best decisions possible while evaluating your risk.
  • Prioritize communication with your staff and tenants. If you have advanced warning of a storm, plan on frequent and regular communications so that staff and tenants are kept apprised of details and your disaster plan as the situation evolves.
  • Notify vendors/work crews before the storm that you may need help to get up and running after the storm.
  • If you have time when preparing for a storm, file a “notice only claim” with your insurance so that you have a claim number ready in case you need it.
  • Power down important mechanical features at your facility, like gates and elevators. This will help ensure a tenant does not get stuck in an elevator and that the gate doesn’t become a safety hazard.
  • Make sure to notify tenants via phone, text, email and website of your evolving plan so that they can make their own plans. Tenants may be storing their emergency supplies and need to know when they can access them.
  • If you anticipate an increase in demand after the storm, evaluate your marketing spend. You will likely be able to save money by decreasing your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) if you know your demand is about to increase organically.
  • Ensure that you can do business, even in a basic way, after the storm. Consider having an “office in a box” at hand with a hotspot and TSSA paper leases included.

There is a process to responding to each stage of the storm—before, during and after. Above, we’ve focused on preparing before the storm hits, but in every stage, communicating your plan to staff and tenants is vital. We thank the Move It team and invite you to watch their full presentation, “When Disaster Strikes: Will You Flounder or Float?” on the TSSA website. If you missed the annual conference and want access to this recording and many more, you're in luck.  With the Post-Conference Pass, you will have access to 12 conference session recordings for a full year, so you can dive deeper into disaster preparedness and so many additional self-storage topics.  

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When Storms Strike: Key Takeaways to Help You Prepare

Turning a Property Around

by Tom Maxfield, Move It Management

March 31, 2020

It is all too common to hear about a particular facility not succeeding in its market, or, perhaps the facility was once successful but has since declined. For an owner or manager concerned about falling performance, rehabilitating a facility can be a daunting and often perplexing undertaking. However, most of the time, the keys to a successful turnaround program are right under your nose. So, don’t panic about the situation. Instead, become purposeful about identifying the problems and implementing a turnaround plan.

The first step is to simply recognize doing “something new” requires you to stop doing “something old.” It can be difficult to organize.

Your priorities as an owner or manager after years of “we have always done this way” procedures.  The primary goal is to always increase NOI. A troubled facility is always failing in that goal, and as a result, alternative ideas, strategies, and processes are necessary to achieve the desired outcome. Any owner or manager, regardless of the size of their facility, can, and should provide a safe, clean, pleasant environment for tenants and employees. Doing so will almost always add value to the storage experience, generate additional income, and prolong the life of your asset.  Over time, some owners get these priorities out of order or take shortcuts causing poor customer satisfaction, declining staff morale, deferred maintenance, and underperforming financial results.

Consider Your Facility’s Appearance

“Curb appeal” is a frequently used term to describe the aesthetic appeal of your property when first seen by a drive-by customer. We know that term refers to a fresh-looking image including neat landscaping, quality signage, and exterior lighting.   However, imagine what prospective tenants are sensing when they enter the office, and they see dirty windows or flooring, stained ceiling tiles, faded painting, and a messy desk. And, if you show them a unit, what if they see litter around the property, filthy hallways, or rodent droppings in the unit? The solution is to roll up your sleeves or hire a cleaning team and clean up your property. Your property may not be fancy but it can be clean. Once done, you can proudly proclaim, “We are the cleanest facility in our market.” Customers will love and appreciate your hard work and commitment.

Assess Your Facility’s Security

Customers want to know you care about their safety and their stored property. That does not mean you assume responsibility, either real or implied.  Rather, in this area, the level of trust with your customers is proportionate to your maintenance of access and surveillance equipment.  A customer will quickly lose faith in you if half of the video cameras are not working or the manager has no training in operating the DVR. While modern systems for access, surveillance, alarms are recognized added value features for most customers, it is essential to maintain the functionality of the security systems in your facility, regardless of the sophistication of the equipment. Doing so will create peace of mind and goodwill with your customers.

Analyze Your Marketing Program

Troubled facilities are not keeping pace with the market.  The reason is generally due to complacency.  Getting out and visiting the competition provides immediate feedback as to your level of curb appeal, cleanliness, professionalism, and customer service compared to your competitors. Prospective customers already know the differences from their comparison shops. It would seem obvious managers would be knowledgeable and proactive to these differences, but generally, you will find they do not. Even if prospective customers drive by your facility, most of them seek additional information online. Having an informative website is important, of course, but having free listings on local search directories is one of the quickest, effective strategies for generating more inquiries from prospective tenants. Registering the facility on internet directory or aggregator sites (including TSSA’s Facility Locator) can also produce significant new traffic but recognize most of these prospective tenants are price oriented in their decision-making process. They are using an aggregator site to easily compare deals or prices.  If this strategy is used, be prepared to offer a rent discount to the new customer while paying a commission to the internet site.

Employ Revenue Management

Underperforming facilities generally do not change their asking rates on vacant inventory because of fear of losing a new rental or lack of knowledge of market rates.  If a unit category has not leased up over a period of time, it clearly indicates potential tenants don’t believe that unit type has value at the existing rent rate.   Correspondingly, if a unit category has a high occupancy for a period of time, it indicates potential tenants not only find the rent rate attractive but they might also pay a bit more due to the general demand.  Many companies use their management software to analyze these trends to decrease rent to stimulate sales or to increase rent to maximize income.  Similarly, satisfied existing tenants recognize moderate increases in rent from time to time. For the customer, the acceptance of the increase is tied to their perception of fairness.  If an owner or manager is providing a high level of service and maintenance of the facility, the customer is more tolerant and accepting. To be successful, it is advisable for owners to correct facility or personnel problems prior to implementing an aggressive rate increase program.

Review Processes and Procedures Commonly, troubled facilities have inadequate daily, weekly, and monthly operations.  As a result, management control is inconsistent.   Site related duties for the manager, including daily security checks or bank deposits, are often not defined. Importantly, many poor facilities have no defined procedures for collecting delinquent rent or conducting lien sales.  With their lease, TSSA has provided members with the most complete lien sale procedure in the nation, and there is no excuse for not using this statutory tool to collect past due rent and free non-productive inventory for new rentals.

Evaluate Your Property Manager

How “good” is that person for your property?   Even though there are a variety of assessment resources, it is rare for owners to make minimal investment in personality and skill profiles when hiring their employees. As a result, many facilities do not perform because the wrong hiring decision was made.  The majority of these managers did not receive adequate training when they were hired nor were they afforded training on an ongoing basis.  If the facility has deferred maintenance or a lack of organizational structure, it should not be a surprise that the manager has lost motivation and instead copes with just maintaining a job.  Often, these situations are not salvageable.  How- ever, high expectations of the owner carry the responsibility of providing a supportive atmosphere for the manager to succeed. A defined job description regarding duties, competitive compensation, benefits, working environment, and training are essential to developing great managers. In a relatively short period of time, a bad manager can ruin a good property, but conversely, a good manager can improve a bad property.

Turning around a troubled property requires a commitment to create a new atmosphere and experience for the customers and employees. It also requires capital and organization to implement a defined plan for improvement. It normally takes six months to complete the plan, but the improvement and pay-off can be inspiring.

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Turn Your Slow Season Around

by Tron Jordheim

The “slow season” is upon us. That time when the winter holidays are approaching and cool weather is blowing in is usually not the time when you see peak demand in self storage.

Slow Season Marketing Tips

Rent as many units as you can, however you have to rent them, so you start with maximum physical occupancy when the spring busy season comes. Maybe you are feeling pretty full and happy. That is great. Why not challenge yourself to see how much you can grow your net operating income next year?

Test Demand

You have only two factors to consider: demand and supply. Big surprise, right? So first, test demand. Don’t change your rental rates, but if things are slow, advertise aggressive move-in specials. First-month-free, or first-month-for-a-dollar specials are hard to beat.

These strategies have been proven over and over again to be successful. Run your special, in combination with market rates, for the first month of slow season. Advertise it with some gusto. Spend a few bucks getting it out to the marketplace.

Measure Your Success Rate

Was your pace of rentals better than last year for the same month after running the special, or about the same? Were your conversion rates 60 percent or better? If you got 10 inquiries, did you rent to at least six of them? If you did not rent to someone, was it because of something other than price?

Review Your Supply

How did it affect supply? Still plenty of units? Or, getting tight on supply? If you are tight on supply, repeat the same special for a second month. Repeat the analysis each month during the four or five months of slow season.

I know owners hate giving the first month free. But if you are giving a free month to people paying market rate, what are you complaining about? When you start month two, you’ll be large and in charge, so get aggressive with first month free. If your month-end tests show you are not getting tight on supply and have plenty of units still left to rent, and your conversion rates are not 60 percent or more, cut asking rates. Yes, I said it, cut asking rates.

However, you must make it plain to people when they rent at reduced rates that these rates will discontinue on March 1, April 1 or May 1, whichever day correlates best with the start of your demand season.

Bring Rates Back to Market

Present the reduced rate as 20 or 30 percent off market rates until March. This makes it easier to go back to market rates when it is time, and fewer tenants will move out when you take them to market rates in anticipation of strong demand.

Empty units don’t help you in the slow season. Any income is good income if the other option is no income from an empty unit. The more physical occupancy you have at the start of high demand, the better position you are in to move market rates up early in the season. Many of your discounted renters will accept the increase to market rate and will not move out because they are expecting it. Some will move out, which will give you more units to rent at market rate. If they do move out, they will do so without bitterness or remorse because you made it clear to them from the beginning when their rates would go up to market rate.

You may have local conditions that won’t allow you to implement this strategy or another situation that will make this the wrong strategy for your site. You’ll need to decide for yourself.

But in the vast majority of cases, this will result in additional income for the last month or two of the year, which is always helpful. It will also result in additional income for the first few months of next year. And most importantly, it will be like rocket fuel for your efforts to maximize the high demand next spring to build maximum income for each quarter in 2018. This all means a big gain in net operating income.

Advertise Your Specials

What are the best ways to advertise this? Put it on your website. Put it in your social media. Use Google Ad words. Put a yard sign in front of your site. Get a big teardrop banner and set it out front by the curb. Put it on your main sign. Say it in your on-hold messaging. Say it upfront on the phone. Put out fliers in the areas of your neighborhood that are most likely to bring you some attention.

Reassess in the Spring

You may adopt a completely different strategy for move-in specials come April or May. You may be full enough and may have raised rates enough that you don’t have to offer any move-in specials next summer. You may want to tweak the specials by unit type. See how things look in the spring and decide as you see what your local conditions look like as the season develops. In any case, I’d be glad to hear from you next spring regarding how this slow season strategy was a winner for you.

Tron Jordheim is the business development manager for Store Here Management/ RHW Capital Management Partners, and a consultant in sales, call center practices, marketing and management. Tron has writ- ten three books, is a frequent speaker, and is a contributor to industry trade journals. Tron was a pioneer in search engine optimization, digital marketing and social media. Tron’s clients and employers have gained billions of dollars in asset value from what one self-storage industry icon described as his “quirky brilliance.”


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Turn Your Slow Season Around

Turn Your Neighbors Into Loyal Customers
6 Tips to Earn the Business of Your Community

by Aytcha Katun-Williams

Do you know where your self-storage customers come from? Most of your customers are located within a seven mile radius of your facility. Given that the majority of your customers are local, you will need to know how to attract local businesses and residents to pick your local storage facility over your competition. Below are six quick tips on how to gain the business of the community that your facility is located within.

1. Get the Attention of Your Neighbors

Self-storage property owners and managers have been utilizing community involvement to create a working relationship within their neighborhoods for a long time. While charitable giving is not a new concept to the self-storage industry, let's look at some creative ways to take your community involvement to the next level:  

  • Many storage facilities allow a small percentage of their units to be used rent-free by local charities, churches, schools and alike. In return, these organizations spread the word by mentioning this charitable giving on their website, during their events, but most importantly by word of mouth.
  • A storage facility in North Bethesda, Maryland has each drive-up unit door painted with unique artwork. The facility owner hosts a community art day every few months where artists come and paint the storage doors with an art theme of community charitable events. The event is an open house, food and drinks are served while the residents and businesses of the area view the artwork created by local artists. Not only does the facility support local artists, but it also increases its curb appeal while bringing new traffic to the storage facility.
  • How about allowing your facility to be a collection point for a charity organization or for electronic recycling? You can opt to collect for your local Food Bank, the Salvation Army or another organization. Most charity organizations have containers that they deliver to your location and do pick-ups on request. They then advertise your facility through all their marketing channels as a drop of location. Electronic recycling companies will need you to allocate one 10’ x 10’ drive up storage unit but they will do the rest of the work to advertise your storage facility as a drop of location and will schedule pick ups at your request. All of these community activities bring further visibility and new customers to your facility.

2. Know Your Local Businesses

Some owners prefer business customers, as they stay longer and are less price conscious. And, all businesses from dental offices to insurance companies need storage. Understanding how and when each different business could utilize storage will allow you to cater your sales pitch to the needs of that business. Becoming a member of local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce or the local Rotary Chapter is one good way to get to know local business owners. Attending the weekly meetings of these organizations and asking the right questions is crucial in finding out how you can help these businesses. What are all the different types of local businesses in your neighborhood and how can you serve them? It’s important to be able to think outside of the box. Your facility may be near multiple retirement communities with new residents who will need storage. Building that relationship with their management may mean steady and long-term storage rentals for your business.

3. Support Your Local Businesses

Giving back to your business community is one of the best word-of-mouth marketing methods. Offering storage units to local businesses at a discount or renting storage units to use as a workshop, selecting a local moving-supplies vendor for your point-of-sale items are all great ways of showing your support. Have you considered selling locally made ancillary products at your storage facility? You can sell scented car fresheners and other locally made products to show that you keep everything local.

4. Cross Marketing to the Next Level

Cross marketing is a tested and proven method for local marketing. Your local restaurants, insurance and real estate brokers and other businesses will gladly exchange business cards and flyers for cross promotion efforts. How about combining your next community event as a networking opportunity for the local businesses? Consider inviting several of your local businesses to be present at your next community event to network with the community and to advertise. Local business involvement will be key to a successful property-hosted event, with the incentives being self-evident.

5. Let Your Managers Get Creative

Leaving some lead room and allocating a small “local marketing” budget for the managers are key. When visiting local apartment buildings or retirement communities, take a basket of muffins or cookies. People love treats, and treats will help you to stand out above your empty-handed competition.

6. Grass Roots Marketing Via Social Media

Are you utilizing social media channels as a form of grass roots marketing? Social media is a free way to reach your target market and take your community relationships to the next level. Consider using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels to announce new local business tenants, to publicize your support of your local businesses or your next community event. Data shows that the ever-increasing number of social media users are checking their accounts several times a day. What better way to announce your support of local businesses, discounts to local residents and more! If you think about it, when working within our communities we go back to the basics. Whether it is a person or an organization, having their best interest in mind and finding creative ways to help results in their appreciation of what you have to offer, and brings new business.

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Turn Your Neighbors Into Customers