Storage Industry Facts and Figures is an ongoing survey designed to examine overall trends in self-storage. In this first part of the series, we’re serving up numbers based on the responses of more than 270 facility managers and owners, collected in three surveys from January to March 2013.
How long has your facility been open?
- Few facilities are young — Only 20.8% of the facilities surveyed said they were under 5 years old. This reflects the fact that few new facilities have been built since development peaked in 2005.
- Older facilities are common — More than half of the facilities said they’re more than 10 years old, with 18.8% indicating they’re over 20 years old. The self-storage industry wasn’t born until the late 1960s; this shows how much of the industry’s growth occurred early in its lifespan.
How does your current occupancy compare to that of this time last year?
- Occupancy grows year over year for most — The majority of respondents (70.1%) reported at least a slight increase in 2013 occupancy from the same time last year.
- Some facilities see a decrease — Although most responded that occupancy has improved since last year, 11.7% said their facility’s or facilities’ occupancy fell compared with the same time in 2012.
- Few facilities report a drastic decline — A positive sign for the self-storage rental market is that far fewer respondents said occupancy decreased significantly (1.1%) than increased significantly (23.4%).
What is your current occupancy rate?
- Few respondents have occupancy under 50% — Occupancy below 50% is a financial red flag for an established facility. About the same small number who reported their facility was less than 1 year old also reported occupancy under 50%.
- Few respondents have 100% occupancy — 100% occupancy presents a mixed bag for self-storage operators, and only 3.2% of respondents said they were completely full.
- 80%-89% is the most common occupancy rate — This is an upward trend. Other research indicates that average occupancy rates are nearing peak highs of about 85%-90%, a figure supported by our survey findings.
Which marketing channels send you the most tenants?
- Walk-ins and facility website top the list — People who were surveyed were asked to select as many as three marketing channels. Classic inbound channels like walk-ins and facility websites were the most popular choices (collectively representing 41.3% of responses). Both categories often serve as catch-alls for move-ins that aren’t attributed to other offline and online sources.
- Aggregators gain ground — Five years ago, the print and online editions of the Yellow Pages were some of the most popular advertising avenues for self-storage facilities. But this survey indicates that online directory listings are losing ground to more sophisticated, industry-specific aggregators like SpareFoot.com and SelfStorage.com.
- Traditional advertising not on the radar — Traditional offline media like radio ads, TV spots and billboards are not common sources of self-storage tenants, according to the survey. Why? Because traditional media tends to appeal to broad audiences, with few of those people actively seeking storage units. To achieve cost-effective marketing, facilities must turn to more focused marketing channels, such as PPC, directory listings and aggregators.