By Michael Baillargeon, Senior Vice President, Operations, Store Space
By now, all of us in the self-storage industry have been practicing due diligence against COVID-19 for months. We’ve put down strict sanitizing protocols and implemented social distancing at our properties. We’ve rethought the approach to our business and even honed our online rental process to be totally touchless, all in the name of safe operations. What’s next?
Our evolving world has ramifications for everyone. And while the outcome remains to be seen, we must tentatively plan for a future that may have been forever altered. Store Space is fortunate to have previously executed online rentals and self-serve kiosks in our locations to make life easier for our customers and our staff. Having a world-class call center trained to guide our customers and turn leads into sales in the midst of a pandemic has also allowed us to forge ahead. It’s not exactly business as usual, but it has allowed us to seamlessly integrate into the business of the foreseeable future. And there is still much to consider.
We may be in a dull spot historically, but our unique real estate niche generally owns a lower tenant turnover that will keep the self-storage industry in a healthy position. While many businesses fall flat in downtimes, our industry will stay afloat due to its very nature of providing space to store property that needs a place to go when life’s catalysts of demand strike—downsizing, divorce, death, and relocation. As such, people and companies are still renting units during this downturn, so let’s look forward.
No entity is exempt from the oversupply that exists in some markets, but opportunities remain for those of us in the business of acquiring and refurbishing storage properties. Not everyone is cut out for the long haul. The ongoing COVID-19 situation and market saturation will prompt some owners to cash out and shed their investments—likely at valuations that tempt acquirers. It may take some legwork, but the right deal is always out there to be had and this may be the time to consider it, especially when assisted by the fallen cost of capital.
One silver lining that has come to light during this world crisis is the value of having a third-party manager like Store Space to guide an owner and their investment through troubled waters. It was already our responsibility to uphold the task of increased routine disinfection and maintenance for their property. It was already our job to notify current and potential customers of the new social distancing procedures and remind them that they can pay their bills online and even rent a unit without the human interaction in which viruses thrive. And it was already our business to market accordingly on their behalf in this unprecedented environment. We operate storage facilities at the highest caliber, not just because it’s our obligation but a pledge we seek to uphold despite whatever circumstances the world may hand us.
Regardless of the global economic uncertainty around us, we believe in the stability of the industry as a whole. There will still be difficult decisions and conditions may truly be different for quite some time, but a sense of calmness is called for nonetheless. As trying as it can be, adapting to life’s wavering and sometimes stark business realities is a process in which we stand firm, and we will continue to make informed choices and act with grace and purpose toward all short- and long-term trends and occurrences that confront us.
We will endure.Sorry, there was a problem loading this page