How did Copper Storage Solutions grow from managing one self storage facility to 70 in just one year? Tune in CallPotential’s “Own Your Ops” webinar, where Brett Copper, Director of Operations at Copper Storage Solutions, discusses the secrets to the company’s rapid growth:
A Self-Storage Industry Q&A – How Copper Storage Solutions Grew from 1 to 70 Stores in One Year.
After a year of explosive growth in automated, unmanned self-storage, we’re frequently asked: “How’d you do it?” Owner and Director of Operations for Copper Storage Solutions, Brett Copper, shared those insights in a recent webinar hosted by our call center technology partner, CallPotential. Check out the highlights.
Q. What makes automated, unmanned facilities such a big opportunity in the self-storage industry?
A. Over the last six to seven years, 75% of all money in self-storage for new builds has gone into only five cities because everyone chases the traditional model that only the biggest facilities (60,000+ square feet) can generate enough revenue to justify the staff to manage it. But, 80% of the facilities out there will never fit this model, not to mention the top money-making areas are saturated anyway. We saw a gap, especially in tertiary markets that people aren’t targeting; where there’s opportunity to make big gains if you can run these facilities well from any location thus removing the need for onsite staff. Yes, the industry was moving towards unmanned facilities to a certain point, but the biggest growth opportunity for us was to find a way to do this on scale and to do it cheaper than the rest.
Q. Is there a certain size self-storage facility that’s better to run manned versus unmanned?
A. We’ve tested from 15,000 to over 100,000 square foot facilities and have uncovered that being manned or unmanned isn’t dependent on a size scale. It has more to do with what how it functions; say if it’s a facility with a lot of moving parts or has a convoluted floor plan, for example.
Q. What’s the secret to your incredible growth in 2020, going from 1 to 70 self-storage locations?
A. Our goal was to develop a way to make money on buying self-storage facilities in tertiary markets and then scale that. For buyers looking for fast growth that don’t realize it can be turn-key to run these facilities we knew we had to:
- Create a low-cost, easy to implement solution that negates the need for a manager on site including:
- Call center technology for renting units, taking payments, handling customer service, maintenance, overlocks and collections.
- Simple, back-to-basics strategies for giving customers locks, managing overlocks and keeping units clean.
- Create pricing that made sense in that we could run the facility remotely cheaper than someone could pay a full-time manager to be there. Not only that but with our model you could save $25,000-$75,000 per year in operating expenses.
- Provide proof of the concept through case studies. For example, we bought a self-storage facility in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, made our changes and technology improvements so it’s now automated and unmanned, and the value went from $1.4 to $4.2 million in a year. Another example is that we built three new facilities, two of which were 50,000+ square feet and within the first month rented 63 united with no office and no kiosk. In fact, 70% of those were rented over the phone with an agent in our call center.
Q. In what states to you provide automated, unattended self-storage?
A. Throughout the Southeast, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, a handful of Midwest states as well as New York and Connecticut for now. But we are adding new facilities all the time, 70 new ones in 2020 alone! For our most up-to-date list, visit copperstoragesolutions.com.
Q. With such rapid growth, has Copper Storage had challenges with hiring?
A. Hiring has been a challenge for everyone over the last year. We’ve had to make sure that we’re paying enough and we try to overstaff in certain areas to help as well. Plus, we work remotely which is a big perk for potential employees so that certainly makes hiring easier for us.
Q. Who oversees overlocks, maintenance and other things that need to be taken care of onsite? And how do you oversee them?
A. For every facility, we have a 1099 employee responsible for doing walkthroughs, cleaning and putting out locks and overlocks. They are typically onsite one full day a week and provide our District Managers (DM) with weekly reports as well as photos. The DMs also do regular audits plus we receive feedback from customers. We do all we can to set the process up for efficiency and accountability.
Q. Do you focus on on-the-ground marketing for your self-storage facilities?
A. The self-storage industry has spent decades on on-the-ground (local) marketing and our research has shown the returns are not good in comparison with online marketing. The fact is, people check online first, regardless of what they’re looking for including self-storage. Not even so much pay-per-click advertising, but your website has to provide everything the client needs to know and have the ability to rent. So no, we don’t focus on on-the-ground marketing as we don’t believe it works well for facilities today. And quite frankly, having a strong online presence in tertiary markets puts you even further ahead, because most of you competition is from smaller shops who not only may not have a website themselves, but don’t even answer the phone in some cases!
Q. What’s your process from rental to using the self-storage unit?
A. First, you can rent online or over the phone in basically five minutes. Second, you sign a lease and we’ll give you a gate code that works right away. Then you can go straight to the unit, get your welcome box with the unit lock and keys along with a notecard on how to pay and the facility’s hours. Very simple.
Q. How often is the District Manager (DM) onsite?
A. Our DMs typically audit each facility in their area once or twice a month. Although if the facility is new or there is a problem, they will be onsite more frequently.
Check out our recent webinar “Explosive Growth – How Copper Storage Solutions Grew from 1 to 70 Stores in One Year” for even more insights on the questions above as well as Brett’s answers to additional questions on succeeding in the self-storage industry.
Or contact Copper Storage Solutions [link] to learn more about their fully automated, unattended self-storage management solutions today!