The head of one of the big self-storage REITs has a message for smaller independent operators: You’re behind the curve when it comes to mobile traffic on the Internet.
In a Feb. 20 conference call with Wall Street analysts, Spencer Kirk, CEO of Extra Space Storage, said smaller operators have become sophisticated regarding websites that work well on desktop and laptop computers. But that’s not the case with mobile-ready websites, he said.
“The move to mobile has been so rapid that I think … many of the smaller operators are disadvantaged,” Kirk said, “because they can’t create platforms that optimize all of the different mobile applications and hardware platforms out there.”
Most of the time, if I come across someone who doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site, they are aware and looking to make the switch.
— Holly Ritchie-Fiorello, marketing director at The Storage Group
Given that situation, he said, Extra Space and the three other publicly traded REITs continue to wield an advantage over smaller operators in the mobile evolution. Kirk said it takes money and manpower to get up to speed on mobile, “and I generally don’t believe it’s something that you can just farm out to some smaller, less-well-capitalized group to optimize what is happening with the ascendancy of the mobile device.”
The shift to mobile
Holly Ritchie-Fiorello, marketing director at The Storage Group, disagrees with Kirk’s assertion. The Storage Group is an Internet marketing company whose customers are self-storage operators.
Ritchie-Fiorello said that when she entered the self-storage industry three years ago, smaller operators already were shifting to mobile-ready websites.
“There was a little lag time between educating them about the need,” she said, “but once the use of smartphones became more prominent, they got it.”
These days, website designs for self-storage operators normally incorporate mobile features, according to Ritchie-Fiorello. Mobile-enabled sites now are an industry standard, she said.
“Most of the time, if I come across someone who doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site, they are aware and looking to make the switch,” Ritchie-Fiorello said. “That is the power of the Internet—it is the great leveling playing field.”
For insights into the rise of mobile in the self-storage industry, visit blog.selfstorage.com/self-storage-marketing/self-storage-mobile-3196.