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Self Storage Insight Blog

Buying Vs Building for Self Storage Success!




Embarking on a journey from a moving company owner to a self-storage magnate, Ben Gottfredson's story is filled with insights crucial for current and aspiring storage facility proprietors.

As a college student in Utah, Ben's foray into the moving world wasn't just a business; it became a springboard to spot a rising demand in the local market. With the real estate sector showing upward trends (source), he found many of his moving clients seeking storage solutions. Recognizing this gap led him to dive deep into the world of self-storage.

If you're contemplating a similar venture, here's what Ben's experience can teach you:

  1. Market Research is Crucial: Before setting up his first facility near St. George, Utah, Ben understood the importance of reading market demands. Before you invest, study local demographics, real estate trends, and consumer needs. Resources like Investopedia can provide insights into real estate dynamics.
  2. Financial Preparedness is Key: Despite purchasing his initial land in cash, Ben faced challenges in securing construction financing. It's imperative to explore multiple funding options and be prepared for rejections. Websites like the U.S. Small Business Administration offer invaluable resources for entrepreneurs seeking financing.
  3. Diligence in Acquisitions: Post-2019, Ben's portfolio grew, emphasizing thorough vetting when considering facility acquisitions. For potential buyers, it's vital to uncover hidden costs or discrepancies. This due diligence can prevent costly mistakes down the line.
  4. Understand Development Dynamics: Ben offers a nuanced view of acquisitions vs. ground-up developments. While the former might promise faster returns, they can come with pre-existing issues. On the other hand, starting from scratch ensures clarity but demands patience. He also discusses the complexities of converting existing buildings into storage facilities, a process that may take longer than expected (check out our other article on converting horse stalls into storage units).
  5. Pricing Strategies Matter: Revising rates can be a game-changer. Ben narrates an instance where tripling rents after acquisition led to an initial tenant drop but boosted profitability in the long run. Navigating such decisions requires a mix of market study, competitor analysis, and understanding tenant demographics.
  6. Operational Excellence is Essential: Ben's parting advice for fellow storage business owners is to approach it with an operational mindset rather than passive real estate. Especially as industry competition heats up (industry trends), having a robust operational strategy and an adaptive approach is pivotal.

In summary, Ben Gottfredson's journey underscores the importance of market acumen, financial readiness, and operational excellence in the self-storage domain. As the sector evolves, these lessons can guide current and potential owners towards sustainable success.

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