While parking may not be at a premium in secondary markets, many US cities suffer from a serious lack of space for an increasing number of vehicles, with the situation only getting worse in most places. San Francisco is one of these places, where parking is not a given - and can really cost a lot. Indoor and outdoor parking storage is a vital part of the Bay Area traffic flowA recent article entitled “How much is parking in downtown San Francisco?,” writer Celine Jerly reminds readers that “The demand for parking garages in downtown San Francisco rarely sees a dip, and the same is true for parking lot rates.”
This sounds a lot like the self storage industry, which has widely proven to be a historically recession resilient, low maintenance asset with a stable cash-flow. Competitive financing and short-term leases are additional reasons the self storage industry has been really taking off with entrepreneurs across the country. We can learn a lot about how to make the most of your self storage facility, by examining the indoor and outdoor parking storage industry in cities like San Francisco and New York, through the lens of the self storage industry.
Spacer Technologies’ CEO Jeremy Zuker set out to identify unused parking spaces and untapped revenue in San Francisco, a city famous for its difficult parking problem. In his article, $250 Million+ of Untapped Annual Parking Revenue Found in San Francisco, Creating New Revenue Opportunities for Residents and Local Businesses, Zuker says, “We wanted to figure out what the value of all of those spaces is, and we were shocked by just how much available inventory is out there. Every unused space represents a lost revenue opportunity for homeowners and businesses who could be renting it out to people who need to park. It’s also inefficient and wasteful when we have technology to increase utilization.”
We’ve touched on the opportunity to make use of all your different resources as a self storage facility owner to make more money in previous articles. Since we all know it’s possible and smart to diversify as a self storage business owner or operator, let’s delve into the different tactics used in the parking and storage industries to capitalize on the opportunity for passive income!
In 2011 the city of San Francisco implemented a new “smart parking” storage strategy called SF Park. This system takes into account the time of day, number of empty spaces, traffic flow, special events, and days of the week to dynamically adjust parking meter prices.
24/7 parking attendants are becoming difficult to find in 2023, as most of these jobs have been usurped by credit card machines and automatic gates, making the process of parking storage more streamlined and faster. Take a lesson from the parking industry and ensure that you offer a range of payment methods including on your website, via an app, checks and more traditional forms of payment, credit card kiosks, etc.
Safety is a major consideration in places like San Francisco, but is just as important to secondary markets and smaller cities. Everyone will pay for security. As a child of working class parents, arguably, it’s even more important to protect the items and vehicles of those who can’t afford to replace them if they are stolen or damaged. Scanning the data on the biggest-selling security features, it’s easy to see why customers would appreciate a storage (or parking) facility with an emphasis on safety and security.
The human element of employing security guards is one of the best selling points for a business hoping to sell both parking and self storage security.
Motion sensor and security lighting on ceilings, floors and even elevators and stairwells signals to customers that you care about their safety, by ensuring they can safely move their things (or cars) into your facility, while simultaneously making sure they are able to see their surroundings, even in the dark.
Did you know that there is an average of 47% reduction in crime when CCTV for surveillance cameras are visible at a business or home? surveillance cameras (or cameras in general) have become a “must” for security minded individuals and entrepreneurs in both the parking and storage industries. Video surveillance has become a must for every business owner and is often used in legal disputes about injury, theft, trespass or any number of other issues.
Having multiple levels is a great way to increase business opportunities, and is better for the earth, keeping your footprint smaller and more compact. Both the parking and storage industry understand the value of making use of all space, with many storage businesses choosing multi-tier units and lockers to maximize space and create value.
Motion sensors are a great way to save money on lighting both inside and outside your facility. You can also use motion sensors to automate your CCTV cameras, with facility door locks, or even with bathroom or office doors to increase security in all areas.
Customers often park their cars for long periods of time in large cities, just as self storage customers store their goods for months or even years at a time. It’s easy to see why they might lose a key or gate code. Incorporating automatic gate codes ensures that all customers are able to access their goods or vehicles quickly and painlessly, even if they’ve misplaced a key or a code.
While offering a valet service sounds like an exclusive “parking industry” benefit, consider the PODS business, which delivers and takes away storage units. In cities like San Fransisco, New York or Washington DC, many storage facilities are offering pick-up, packing, driving and delivery services. There’s no need to go that far if you don’t have the capital. Consider partnering with local moving companies or trucking companies to offer more services to your local customers.
Scheduling regular maintenance is critical, but telling your customers about it is how you really cash in on all that maintenance you are paying for! Consider posting maintenance schedules in visible places at your facility, and offer a quick and easy way to report needed maintenance to open up new lines of communication with your customers.
While getting into the car, RV or boat storage might be outside your realm of expertise (at least for now), consider offering up your extra space as event, overflow or long-term parking. This is an easy way to make more money at your facility without the added expense and stress of monthly or weekly rentals.
The San Francisco Bay area has over 15 million parking spaces, with around 20% of incorporated land allocated to the parking & storage of vehicles. With 24 spaces for every car, it's a massive and ever-growing industry. Self storage owners and operators can learn a great deal from the parking industry. Maybe you choose to go all-in on parking and use your extra space to build an RV or boat storage lot, or decide to cherry-pick money making ventures and offer overflow parking for a nearby business or venue, you are sure to find riches in the niches. For more information on how to see your self storage space differently, visit the ManageSpace community to give your input on how you would use technology to enhance your earning potential in the self storage industry.
Pros and Cons of Single-Story vs. Multi-Story Self-Storage Development
When embarking on the journey of self-storage facility development, one of the key decisions you'll face is whether to build a single-story or a vertical (multi-story) facility.