Intervention time at my self storage business!

By Gavin Shields on

Intervention time at my self storage business!

I own two self-storage sites in Portadown and Dungannon, and I'm currently facing a decline in occupancy rates at my Portadown location. Over the past six months, we've experienced a drop of over 1,000 square feet, and in the last six weeks, we've only had one booking. I recognize that I need to take immediate action to address this decline, so I've come up with several strategies to implement. Firstly, I plan to check for problems with bookings, remove the virtual receptionist, turn on Google ads, sponsor local teams, and invest in social media and TikTok ads. I also plan to invest in site upgrades, conduct direct mail campaigns, and monitor the sites regularly. My hope is that by sharing my experience, I can help other operators who may be facing similar challenges.

Video transcript:

Hi, this is Gavin here I am recording this because I wanted to share my experience at the moment for my facility business.

So I have two sites that you can see here, Portadown and Dungannon. I opened up Portadown three and a half years ago and it has done very well.

Through COVID, it really filled up really quickly, 12,000 square feet of growth space, full upgrade. We were at about 76, 77% occupancy about nine months ago and Dungannon opened about a year and a half ago.

And the reason I'm recording this video is I was looking at some data so we've just released some new reporting in Stora and looked at our Portadown site.

And this is Portadown over the last six months. So let me just remove this. This is Portadown over the last six months and we have gone down by over a thousand square feet.

Not only that, but the past six weeks we've had one booking. That was one person to book two hundred square feet.

We have done a single booking. Apart from that one, since the start of March. And, you know, this business has gone very well for a while.

We've all kind of almost completely hands off. We've really kind of outsourced almost everything. And that was fine in the boom times.

And it just looks like now some kind of intervention is needed. So, what I'm going to do over the next few weeks, maybe four weeks, maybe six weeks, maybe eight weeks, is I'm going to do a ton of stuff that.

That is designed to make sure that we're maximizing our chances of seeing this number here turn positive because we can't keep bleeding occupancy.

I'll show you my occupancy data. You can see here occupancy rates. So occupancy, I've poured it down. It's at 54.96%.

I mean, that is so down. So far down. It was 75% not long ago. And I've just, I've just been sort of not watching what's been going on.

This, or some of our new reporting has just shown kind of really what's happening and has helped me to identify this issue and it just can't continue.

Dungannon is similar. It's also down, but not quite as bad, but I really want to do something about Dungannon too.

We need to get that filled up. I think there are probably four or five or six things I can do over the next while to really make a big difference here.

And I'm going to, I'm going to share everything I do and we'll look at what happens. I'm going to do everything at once.

So I'm not going to, we're not going to make them one change and then watching to see what happens. We don't have enough.

Time. I also have enough data to really try and have some sort of scientific experiment. I'm going to do a bunch of stuff.

So some of the things I'm thinking about doing are, first of all, I'm going to check that there's no problem with our bookings.

I'm just going to make a, just going to make a book in myself and just make sure there's nothing like stuff.

I'm not dropping it. I don't think there is. We would know that. I would know from running store there's a problem.

So that won't be the case, but it's always the first place to check. Is there some problem with customers making a booking?

So if you have online bookings, go and make an online booking. If you do it, go and film. Film the phone number and see what happens whenever people ring the phone.

We have an outsourced call center and we have this kind of virtual receptionist thing. So it's press one for this, press two for that.

And I'm thinking we're getting rid of that. Just the virtual receptionist and just letting people ring and have somebody answer the phone.

I think that could be an issue. We're not really doing any Google ads. So I'm going to probably turn those on.

I'm going to start doing some sponsorship of some local teams. I want to try and get banners up around golf clubs and rugby clubs and stuff in those two towns.

I'm going to also try and get them to the local teams. I'm going to start doing some social media posting.

I'm going to probably create a few videos, just little promotional videos with people in them talking about the business and share those on Facebook.

Maybe throw a little bit of money behind some ads just to get them in front of people too. I might even look into TikTok ads.

I'm going to look into that a bit and see if that's something I should be doing. I'm also going to be running the sites and just check there's no big problems.

I have to admit I don't go to sites often at all. So I'm going to, I'm going to go see if we need to invest a bit of money there on, I don't know, painting, painting some stuff, changing the experience when people arrive to make sure there's nothing going wrong there.

And I'm probably also going to do some of the Royal Mail Direct to things door to door, day to, day to day deliveries.

I'm going to start doing those I think maybe have to do one of those every month for maybe six months. So that's going to be able to 1000 pounds for two sites will be 2000 pounds a month.

So it's gonna be a relatively big investment. But I need to try and grow awareness of this business in the local community a bit better. So I'm going to do all these things.

I'm going to talk through everything. I'm going to share my results. I'm going to share this chart as we progress Let's look at the last 12 months to see what's happened at Dungannon.

So and then Dungannon, actually, the last four months we are up, that's a pretty good time, over actually over what is normally quiet time over the winter. But Portadown let's bring up Portadown here.

Portadown is down 1,250 square feet, I mean, that's just too much, and we'd have to do something about it. So I'm gonna keep recording videos,

I'm going to share everything, please, if you are experiencing something similar, and I've a feeling there might be quite a few operators experiencing some similar stuff at the moment, reduced bookings, I think my feeling is that with interest rates a lot higher house moves probably are down a bit.

And that I bet you it does have an impact on my sites. But I'd love to hear what other people are doing. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And if you are experiencing a similar thing, then, you know, let's go through this together and try bits and pieces together.

Let me know what's working for you. And have any ideas on what I can do as well. Ultimately, this may lead to you know, us making some changes to Stora.

So you know, hopefully we can find some things maybe there's some services or whatever we can add, because we want to help other operators too.

But I'm gonna go through this myself because I have to get this fixed for my own business, so let's see how we get any comments.

Please let me know or give me a shout anytime. I'd love to hear what you're up to. And yeah, thanks so much.

Gavin Shields gavin.jpeg

Gavin Shields

Gavin Shields is the CEO at Stora, a provider of self storage automation software and services, as well as the MD & Owner of self storage operator, StoreStuff.

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