If you haven’t had your eye on the California self storage industry, then you may have missed the lien amendment that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on the 30th of September, 2010. Correcting several “common sense” flaws, the amendment will affect some pretty significant changes for self storage owners and tenants alike. For starters, the amendment allows for a certificate of mailing to be used in place of certified mail packages for lien notices; secondly, it guarantees that lien disputes (which fall under the “Declaration of Opposition” provision) can be settled in small claims court (as opposed to the superior courts). As you might guess, these small, “common sense” corrections are going to save California’s self storage industry some money—well, a lot of money. How much money, you ask? How does $10 million sound?
If $10 million sounds like a lot of money to you, then you’re on the right track. It is a lot of money. Granted, the savings are going to be split across 3,890 self storage facilities—some of them individually owned; some of them parts of larger, national chains. Even so, each store stands to save an estimated $2,480 annually. Considering that a self storage tenant is worth about $700 (a rough estimate), that’s nothing to sneeze at.
So what does all of this mean for self storage facilities—for those who own and operate them? Only time can tell, but speculation is certainly possible. Of course, we should hope that these savings are going to be reinvested into the properties themselves. We should hope, most of all, that security features and cleanliness are going to take a turn for the better. These, I dare say, are areas in which many self storage facilities could stand, well, a bit of improvement. Video surveillance systems can be updated and improved; faulty locks and doors can be replaced; pot holes, insecure fences, and all manner of aesthetic problems can be addressed. All of these things can and will improve the services that current and prospective self storage tenants enjoy.
Of course, we should also hope that some of this money will be spent on quality control. Whether a company decides to hire a quality control expert (in house) or pay a third-party quality-control company to perform employee evaluations, the outcome will be the same: improved quality for consumers. With personal budgets as tight as they are, customer service simply has to be taken seriously. If we assume that third-party quality control evaluations are available at, oh, $60 a pop (once again, a rough estimate), each property could, with its savings alone, afford around forty of them a year—many, many more than they’re actually going to need.
When you hear that a local industry is going to be saving money—$10 million dollars, let’s say—you expect to see some of those savings reflected in the improved quality of the services that they provide. As a consumer, it’s a reasonable expectation to have; as a business, it’s a great creed to live by. Whenever it’s possible, profits need to be dumped back into the company. Christmas bonuses and company events aside, profits should just about always go towards improving a) the quality of your product, and b) your share of the market. If you can shoot for both, then you’re certainly moving in the right direction.
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