05 Sep 2019

How Small Self Storage Operators Compete Against Big REITs

Laura Gattis

Marketing Specialist

We are all aware of the industry buzz about REITs, they’re doing great. However, are they equipped to handle the overflow of business demands? When is too good, not good enough? And when too good goes bad, who wins? When did small facility owners overtake the industry? Has it been this way all along? Let’s find out.

Small Facility Owner Takeover

In case you missed it, 73% of the self storage industry are small facility owners. Only 8% of the industry is comprised of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) provide examples so they understand who those are. Self Storage has been highly regarded as a reliable investment since the late ’90s, but if REITs have been buying what seems like almost every small facility owner you know...If everyone is selling to a REIT, wouldn’t the numbers reflect as such? And if REITs really have the majority of the market, why are they looking to buy your facility?

What If You Don’t Sell Your Facility

The promise of making a lot of money and having a comfortable life is one we all dream of. We prioritize it so much that it reflects heavily in our pop culture shows, movies, and music. We really do all want “the American dream.”

What if selling your facility meant giving up that dream? As previously stated small facility owners still own a large percentage of the self storage market, but without the huge marketing budgets of big-box companies, it can feel impossible to compete at times. In the digital age, it’s actually easier than ever.

If you don’t sell, there’s a chance your facility could go under, sure. But there’s a reason self storage is growing - it’s a stable industry that nearly 1 in every 10 American families use. Most facilities, even mom-and-pops, are succeeding, and with great financial benefits. According to BizFluent, Profit margins are around 11 percent! If you sell, you may have an immediate deposit to your bank account, but it’s more than likely that your year-over-year profits will outweigh what you make from selling your facility.

Naturally, if someone is trying to buy your facility, it’s because they think they can profit from it.

Why should they receive the profit, instead of you? If you want to keep your facility, but aren’t sure how to compete, keep reading.

How to Compete Against the REITS

You remember business back before the REITs took over and before everyone rented from the corporate big-box names. Are you unsure of how to get back your facility’s competitive edge?

Marketing used to require massive budgets to get billboards, phone book ads, and more. With the Internet, claiming and managing a Google My Business page is one of the most useful digital marketing strategies you use to help your facility create visibility online.

Beyond Google My Business, there’s social media, Search Engine Optimization, and redesigning your website to incorporate an online rental tool. Understanding and utilizing a variety of digital marketing practices can be the difference between flailing and sitting back while units fill themselves.

Concerned about the amount of time running a facility is taking up? Owning any business requires a lot of work, but with modern technology, you can combine a property management software, an online rental tool, and other automated processes (such as automatic gates and call centers) to create a facility that requires minimal hands-on work.

Understanding Your Power With Digital Marketing

The most effective action you can take to improve your competitive edge is to make your facility’s online presence as strong as possible. Take a deep dive into your website and search engine optimization by talking to a professional in-house search marketing team, and use that information to drive business decisions about how to allocate and spend your marketing budget.

Adopting SEO services, an online rental tool, and pay-per-click advertising campaigns can all increase overall occupancy. With high occupancy also comes the opportunity to take one step closer to achieving the American dream of small business success.