Staying Competitive in Montana’s Evolving Self-Storage Market
Montana self-storage operators know that demand is high. But just as the waitlist for a unit grows, so does the strain on management and maintenance. And while operators are busy working to keep up with high volumes of calls now, planning for the future can take a back seat.
How can operators look ahead and position their facilities to meet future demand after the current boom? Sterling CRE self-storage expert, Claire Matten, CCIM, shares thoughts on where to invest time and resources for the highest ROI.
As more facilities come online, self-storage customers are becoming more discerning about their self-storage choices. Those facilities lacking in ‘market amenities’ are finding themselves at a disadvantage.
This includes things like security cameras and lighting, online billpay, 24/7 keycard or PIN access, and climate-controlled units in some markets. One-stop-shop amenities such as wash bays for RVs/boats, vacuums for cleaning vehicles, air compressors for tires, etc all scream convenience to customers and help pull customers from competitors.
Self-storage customers sometimes make their decisions about a specific site based on the initial look of the facility. A dirty, debris-laden parking lot and unkempt landscaping signal poor, uncaring management to a new customer surveying the market.
This is especially true in a climate like Montana’s, where snow and ice can quickly build up. At best, this creates an impediment – at worst, it’s a safety hazard. In summer, weeds can grow quickly and lackadaisical landscaping can be an eyesore.
Specials and Discounts.
While this may not be as much of a concern in the current market, it’s worth considering which units would be good candidates for a move-in special. We suggest considering it now so you can strategically work to make those available for discount rates later on.
One option is end-of-summer rates for RV/boat storage when customers are looking for a deal on stashing summer toys.
Most self-storage customers ‘shopping’ for storage end up renting storage. A critical question to ask when reviewing a self-storage facility is: why or why not would a potential customer rent here? It’s key to understand the marketplace, especially in regards to location, local demographics, and consumer habits.
Ad dollars in areas with a younger population are often better spent on digital advertising. If your local population skews older, they’re more likely to respond to print mailers. Are there lots of college students nearby, or are they homeowners with RVs? Knowing the market through statistics can maximize your ad spend.
“Montana self-storage operators have lots of options ahead: buy, sell, develop, hold. It’s a robust but challenging landscape,” says Matten. “There’s opportunity in the market for operators. We can help sus out the next steps for those folks.”
Contact Claire Matten to get a copy of Montana’s newest self-storage data.