Determining Demand: Finding The Forces That Drive The Need For Storage By Benjamin Burkhart

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    Are you thinking of building a new self-storage business? Have you lost market share in this recession? Is your facility new and navigating lease-up? Is your business well established? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you must get to know your market and your customer. As our industry becomes more competitive, owners, managers, and employees should have a solid understanding of who they serve, why they serve, and when they serve their tenants. What creates the demand for your facility and how do you meet that demand?

    As I study micro markets, I often ask local facility managers to tell me about their local self-storage market. Owners, as business people with millions on the line, the responses I get would blow you away. Most of the time, the answer is “It’s pretty good,” or maybe“It’s hard dealing with the public, but it’s a pretty good job.” I’m always amazed at how developers will spend millions on buildings, signage, and driveways, and then pay $10 an hour for a relatively incompetent manager who has no understanding of local demand or their customer. Even some of the big boys take this approach.

    Almost every market I visit has a different brand of competition. I don’t mean different names or different signs—it’s more than that. From the complacent market where everyone offers the same “commodity” of space for the same price, to those fierce with skilled competition, every micro market is unique. All markets are not created equal; to assess the needs of a particular one, we must dive into the forces that drive demand.

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