A little over four years ago, the Young Leaders Group (YLG) was nothing more than an idea tossed around among a few friends over a casual beer. Today, the YLG is the fastest growing group within the Self Storage Association, with more than 200 members. Our membership includes a broad scope of driven individuals from owners/operators with their own portfolios of properties to facility managers from their respective organizations, vendor professionals who provide consultative insight and services to operators, and many other young professionals vital to the evolution of the industry. With some of the brightest young[er] minds in the industry working together, it is evident that the YLG will continue to develop as a household name within the industry at large.
However, despite our continued success, the very generation that comprises the majority of the YLG still seems to be grossly misunderstood as a whole. Through my most recent speaking series, with none other than Ms. Natalie Bragg of Storelocal, “Millennials and Self-Storage”, we successfully addressed and debunked the hard-hitting myths about Generation Y. While it’s easy to form an opinion based on a bad experience with a lazy employee or a frustrating tenant, doing so could actually cost you in the long run. Not only do the 20 and 30-somethings account for a third of the workforce but also for what could be a huge percentage of your consumer base and the future of the self-storage industry. With that in mind, one of the most common myths I hear is that, “Your generation will fall in line”.
This myth always makes me chuckle, because you all forget that at one point in time you probably looked just like this:
That’s right; you too were told that one day you’ll “fall in line”, “grow up”, and join the “real world”. But guess what: You didn’t! Your generation, much like ours, shifted the entire American culture. Whether you realize it or not, while you all were hitting Woodstock, watching the World Trade Center be completed, catching the latest episode of *M*A*S*H*, or attempting to understand your first computer, you were defining cultural shifts that no other generation could really grasp. For Millennials, our computer is now our smartphone. We grew up only knowing the World Trade Center as a time of mourning and one of the largest losses in American history. Your *M*A*S*H* is our Kardashians (unfortunately). And, well, our generation still loves music festivals, so go figure! However, as we have shifted to having technology be an all-encompassing part of our lives, businesses (at least the ones that want to succeed) have followed suit.
Quick question: When was the last time you used Kodak? It was probably around 2011, because the company filed for bankruptcy in January of 2012. Why did they fail? Because they refused to pivot. They chose not to embrace the change that was right before their eyes; as a result, a company that had been in business for more than 100 years died right before America’s eyes.
Don’t be the Kodak of the self-storage industry. Look around and pay attention to what’s going on in the world today. Ask your kids what’s cool, download the latest app, read a blog, and familiarize yourself with the trends that are occurring before your very eyes both in and out of the self-storage industry.