Storelocal Team Oct 6, 2021 9:53:23 AM 8 min read

How a Cooperative Helps Independents Compete Against Self Storage REITs

Congratulations on buying an independent self-storage facility! It’s a great way to earn a primary, secondary, retirement, or investment income. After all, people need storage. In fact, 2020 data shows that nearly 1 in 10 households has a storage unit! Whether they’re reducing clutter in the home, have small closet space, or simply have a small home, the market is on fire. So, now you’re open for business and ready to stake your claim in this multi-billion dollar industry. But wait – someone else has caught on to this booming business and has moved into your territory – the REITs!

What is a REIT? They’re the publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts and they’re bigger, have more brand awareness, and possess more buying. So how are you, the small “mom-and-pop,” supposed to compete with them? The answer is to look to the cooperative.

What is the Self Storage Co-op?

America’s labor union has a motto: “Alone we are weak, together we are strong.” While a co-operative is not a union, this motto still rings very true! The self storage co-op is a group of independent self-storage operators who band together to compete against the larger REITs. While they remain independent, by combining their strengths, each is able to increase competitive advantage, gain exclusive deals on vendors, lower operational costs, and partner with self-storage industry thought leaders. We’ll discuss these benefits more in a moment.

How Does the Self Storage Co-op Work?

The self storage cooperative requires membership from independent self-storage operators. By becoming a member, they gain access to the co-op’s products and services while participating in annual dividends. Storelocal®, the nation’s only cooperative created by independent self-storage operators, offers member benefits with economies of scale, and has even launched a campaign to resist “the inevitable practices of consolidation.” In a 155-word “Declaration of Independence,” the co-op encourages “a free and open marketplace” for self-storage operators.

“By simply banding together, self-storage operators can gain a voice and have a say in the future of the industry,” says Travis Morrow, chairman. “Storelocal identifies with the challenges facing independent self-storage operators and offers the opportunity to turn their critical mass into something tangible—a collective of smaller operators that together form a democratic system.”

6 Advantages of Joining the Self-Storage Co-op

We mentioned some of the advantages of being a Storelocal self storage cooperative member earlier; now, let’s dive a little deeper into how these benefits work.

1. Maintaining Your Independence

When you bought your self-storage facility, you intended to be your own boss. Why should you change the way you do business just to compete with a self-storage REIT? The co-op lets you maintain your independence while giving you access to vendors, people, and products that can help you succeed.

2. More Marketing Know-How

To compete with the big guys, you have to have marketing know-how. Of course, you’ve already got a lot of other types of work to juggle throughout your busy day. Luckily, being part of the co-op can make you look like a marketing guru! You can gain access to free videos to post on your website, reputation management software for monitoring online reviews, eye-catching digital signage, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies, and more.

3. Access to Operational-Side Experts

What are the best self-storage doors and where can I get them? Where can I find packing, shipping, moving, and storage material at a reasonable rate? Which is the best property management software? And what am I going to do about this abandoned unit? All of these questions have answers when you’re with our self-storage coop. You’ll have access to industrial companies, self-storage suppliers, technology companies, legal advice firms, and more.

4. Finding Your Financial Footing

You purchased a self-storage facility, so you’ve got some financial savvy about you. However, you may not be as well-versed when it comes to insurance, payroll, expansion or renovation mortgages, and cost segregation. However, when you’re a member of our self storage co-op, you’ll have some of these guys on speed dial ready to assist you.

5. Better Networking Opportunities

Our co-op puts you in good company, giving you a network of hundreds of other self-storage owners and thought-leaders to share successes, discuss challenges, and find solutions with. And who doesn’t like to travel to networking events? There are numerous member value meetings throughout the year to attend where you can learn, grow, and have some fun with others in the industry.

6. More Buying Power

The expertise and efficiencies our cooperative provides its members bridge the gap between the acquisition costs and occupancies of the top national operators and reservation systems. Our cooperative is equitable to all participants, has enough flexibility to accommodate members of all sizes, increases competitive advantage, and fosters loyalty through ownership.

The Storelocal Solution

Now, back to that Storelocal Declaration of Independence – it really makes a statement about freedom from self storage REITs, right? So if you love what you do, and how you do it, then you’re going to love the value the Storelocal cooperative brings to your business (and how it can help you keep your business). 

Today, with more than 1,300 members and a real estate value worth more than $10 billion, the Storelocal co-op is stronger than ever – and you're invited to become a part of it. Contact Storelocal to learn more about what our cooperative can do for you.