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BYB news for landlordsView all
The end of 2021 is approaching fast. A good time to recap the progress of the self-storage sector in Europe. In this blog we comment on the most noteworthy data from the 2021 report by FEDESSA (Federation of European Self Storage Associations) and outline our expectations for 2022. CONTINUOUS GROWTH In the past decade, the number of self-storages in Europe has tripled. Today, Europe (including the UK) has some 5,173 sites. With an increase in the number of sites compared to last year, the total area of self-storage also increased to almost 11 million m². Per European today, there is an average of 0.022 m² of self-storage. Belgium ranks just below this average, in the Netherlands it is more than double. So the self-storage sector is clearly still growing in Europe. To put these figures in a better context, we can compare them with data from the United States. In the most mature self-storage market of the world, the total surface area of self-storage is 1.9 billion sq ft. or some 176.5 million m². This equates to 5.9 sq. ft. or 0.548 m² per American (source: 2021 Self Storage Almanac). Both markets have their specificalities, but the fact is that Europe has a much higher population density than the United States (112 inhabitants per km² versus 36 inhabitants per km² (source: World Bank). Space per capita is therefore more scarce in Europe and will more often than not lead to a need for additional storage space outside. The responses from the 100 operators who participated in the FEDESSA report alone show that more than 100 new facilities are currently being built, with another 53 in the pipeline. Further growth of the self-storage sector in Europe therefore appears to be a certainty in 2022. OCCUPANCY RATE - TYPES OF TENANTS - RENTAL PRICES The average occupancy rate in Europe increased last year by 1.7% to 81.5%. This is higher than in February 2020, just before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. One explanation may well be that during the various lockdowns, many people were confronted with items that took up too much space in their homes and found a solution in self-storage. An interesting observation is that the percentage of professional tenants fell from 32% to 27%. This is the opposite of the evolution we have seen in recent years. It is likely that the economic impact of COVID-19 for (small) companies has played a role in this. With the economy recovering, it remains to be seen whether we return to the trend of an ever-increasing number of professional tenants. Small businesses and start-ups - with special attention to those active in the e-commerce sector - remain an interesting target audience for self-storages. Tip: A flex office with Wi-Fi in your self-storage helps you to attract these types of tenants. Besides the occupancy rate, the average rental price went up as well. Whereas in 2020 this amounted to EUR 250 per m² per year, it rose to EUR 268 per m² per year in 2021. This increase of more than 7% is also the largest increase reported by FEDESSA in the past 10 years. With the expectation that the occupancy rate as well as the rental prices will remain the same or even increase slightly, the vast majority of the self-storage companies surveyed in the FEDESSA report have a positive outlook for 2022. ONLINE PRESENCE - BOOK YOUR BOX Perhaps the most eye-catching statistic -and at the same time not so surprising- is the evolution of the online presence of the sector. Based on the FEDESSA report, we note that self-storages are increasingly aware of the importance of reaching and serving tenants online. Whereas in 2019 only 74% of self-storages surveyed published their prices on their website, by 2021 this already stood at 82%. The possibility of reserving a unit via the website rose from 71% to 80% in the same period. At 58% of the self-storages surveyed, tenants can reserve a unit today and also pay via the website. In 2019, this was only 25%. Joining Book Your Box is obviously a very easy way to join this online trend. FEDESSA already announced: "The trend towards greater online functionality and more sophisticated platforms has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic." As a unique online marketplace for the rental of self-storage storage space, Book Your Box is such a trendsetter. We bring the concept of self-storage closer to the online audience and provide a platform on which a tenant can immediately search, compare and book his self-storage unit. This way you save on your own website and online marketing costs and you only pay when you actually rent a unit through our marketplace. Book Your Box is the right forum to put your self-storage on the map and attract new tenants in 2022! Register here! Register easily and start renting via Book Your Box! Click here for more info! Questions? Visit our tenants page with handy space calculator or contact us via the chat function! Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
Over the past decade, the self-storage sector gained popularity and has become a competitive industry. Moreover, thanks to its recession-proof nature, the sector has enjoyed an uninterrupted influx of capital. As the sector grows, trends often emerge. Below, we discuss four trends that we observe today. 1. Supply and demand Before the coronavirus pandemic, the self-storage market in the United States had an oversupply in certain cities or even in entire states (see e.g. Texas, Sacramento, Atlanta and Charleston). Oversupply leads to lower rents. However, the pandemic caused new building projects to be postponed or cancelled, which inhibits oversupply (source: Inside Self-Storage). In addition, more and more cities are imposing restrictions on building a self-storage facility. Such restrictions also have their effect on the supply side (source: Forbes). The evolution of the (pending) oversupply in certain regions in the United States is something that deserves attention in the coming years. In Europe, the situation is quite different. Demand for self-storage is still far exceeding supply. Europe may have seen a significant increase in the number of new facilities and self-storage space in recent years, but demand remains higher. In Europe, the average area of self-storage space is 0.02 square metres per person. The United Kingdom has the highest percentage with 0.068 (source: Fedessa 2020 survey). By comparison, in the United States in 2018 the national average self-storage storage space per capita was 5.4 square feet, or 0.50 square metres. We do not anticipate an oversupply of self-storage any time soon in Europe. . In the future, the demand for self-storage units will be driven by the baby boomers who are about to exchange their larger homes for something smaller and more practical. Rising property prices are also causing people to live smaller today. In addition, the demand for self-storage is also increasingly fueled by companies who are discovering the benefits of self-storage. The fastest growing geographical market for self-storage is (South) Asia. The region has many metropolises with a high population density and extremely expensive square metres of living space. Countries in the region have a growing economy, so inhabitants earn more money and spend it on non-essential items which creates a lack of space in their homes. In addition, because the wider society is familiar with digital developments, the region has a strong e-commerce sector. The companies active in this sector as well as the many start-ups focused on efficiency are turning to self-storage for their storage needs (source: Storeganise). 2. Online channels Gone are the days when consumers were forced to physically visit their self-storage facility to inspect it as a possible option. The new generation of tenants are increasingly looking online for their storage options. The corona pandemic has only accelerated the transition to online storage. Today, however, there are not many self-storage operators that offer the service of 'booking and paying online'. This requires an optimized website with an integrated payment system. Book Your Box therefore offers a plug-and-play solution for self-storage operators. As an online marketplace for self-storage, Book Your Box connects self-storage operators and people looking for storage space on the internet. Book Your Box makes sure that your online presence increases without charging advertisement fee or website costs . An additional online channel can be seen as an opportunity for emerging self-storage innovators and providers to take the industry in a new direction and differentiate themselves from non-innovative self-storage providers. 3. Technology and automation At first glance, the self-storage sector is not considered to be technologically advanced. Only a few components seem necessary to make renting out storage space a success story. "With a vacant property and electricity supply I can go a long way, right? Think again! The standards within the self-storage sector, as well as the expectations of tenants, have evolved rapidly. Investing in technology is one of the ways to distinguish your self-storage from those of your competitors. In addition to an increased customer experience, technology also allows for the automation of a series of administrative or repetitive tasks that are involved in running a self-storage unit. Through automation, savings can be made on personnel, which in turn increases your competitiveness. Read more about the technological developments in the self-storage sector in our blog on technology. 4. Appearance The location of a self-storage unit will continue to play an important role. A busy city center or industrial areas that are easily accessible via motorways will always score well in terms of occupancy. In addition to the location, however, the 'look and feel' of the self-storage facility is becoming increasingly important. Facilities that look good, catch the eye. Develop a house style. A sleek façade with matching fencing and entrance gate creates a tough image, which is associated with security. The same applies to good lighting. Your building will stand out in the dark and at the same time it will give a feeling of security. Also, don't be afraid to use a little color! After all, self-storage has the bad reputation of being drab and grey (literally and figuratively). Discover here some tips for the use of colors. Do you have a unique location? Then do not hesitate to let your self-storage blend in with that location. It would be a pity not to play off the uniqueness of the location in the design of your storage. Do not forget to extend the corporate identity of your facility to the interior design. As an extension of the home or a business, a self-storage must also present itself in this way. This all contributes to the customer experience. Moreover, price is not the all-decisive criterion for the tenant. Factors such as a good location and a ditto image carry weight too. A modern establishment with cachet gives a secure and inviting feeling, which is an important factor for many prospective tenants. Want to join our unique online marketplace for self-storage? Simply register and start renting via Book Your Box! Click here for more info! Any questions? Contact us via the contact form or via the chat function! Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash
Meanwhile, the first users have rented their self-storage unit through our marketplace. But the very first reservation, that was a milestone. We thought that we should give this tenant a small gift. No sooner said than done! We met up with Wouter at Skwer's in Houthalen-Helchteren, the self-storage where he reserved his unit via Book Your Box. Hi Wouter! Congratulations, you're the first one to rent through Book Your Box! Really? I didn’t expected that. Thanks for the attention. Very nice! You're welcome. What was your reason for renting a self-storage box? As a self-employed interior builder, I was looking for extra storage space for my building materials, including plasterboard. I can store some things at home in the garden shed, but over time I had materials for three different projects in the house. As you can guess, my wife wasn't too happy about that (laughs). Now that I have my unit, I can pick up the things I need in the morning and drop them off in the evening. Moreover, everything is stored safely here. The flexibility to cancel the rental contract every month is a great added value. How was your experience at Book Your Box? Very good! The website is very user-friendly. I entered my location and found a provider near me with available units. After choosing my unit, I filled in my details and easily paid the first month's rent. A few moments later I received the confirmation of my reservation by e-mail. Nadine, as a self-storage operator, do you share this positive experience? Absolutely. The reservation was made in the evening via e-mail so the next day I contacted Wouter by phone to arrange a moment to sign the lease and hand over the key. In this way, we acquired a tenant outside office hours. Good to hear, both of you. Thanks for the trust in Book Your Box and good luck! Through Book Your Box you can now search and book your self-storage unit online. Compare providers that meet your criteria and book directly at the best price. Without any extra costs! CLICK HERE Questions? Visit our tenants page with handy space calculator, FAQ section or contact us via the chat function!
Over the past decade, the self-storage sector has seen a surge in investment in technological innovation. Being able to run a self-storage unit remotely is something that concerns many self-storage providers today. The use of technology can create a competitive advantage. On the one hand by increasing the customer experience of the tenant-customer (see below), on the other hand by saving costs for the owner-landlord after an initial investment. After all, technology goes hand in hand with automation, which in turn can lead to a reduction in personnel cost. For self-storage providers who are just starting, it is obviously advisable to include technological gadgets in the planning and development phase. Providers who have been successfully operating in the sector for a while, should not make the mistake of thinking they can ignore innovation. Instead, their unique knowledge and experience allows them to to innovate in the best way possible. Below we discuss four tools that have already been introduced in the self-storage world. 1. Mobile app Figures from 2020 show that 89% of Belgians have a smartphone (source: Deloitte). Young and old therefore rely on the smartphone to help them in their daily lives. Just think about making payments, identifying yourself, checking the weather, buying a train ticket, etc. Mobile applications, apps, make all this even easier. That is why an increasing number of self-storage operators offer an app. This way, tenants can manage their unit remotely. A key or access card becomes superfluous. With the app, tenants can also cancel or extend their unit. Reporting a problem by uploading a photo, for example, is also done via the app. Just like paying the rent and communicating with the staff of the storage. Benefits for the operator? A well-functioning app improves the customer experience, which in turn has a positive effect on the retention rate. Through the app, interesting data can also be collected, for example on how often someone visits their unit or at what time they usually do so. An app can also have a positive effect on rent collection. A push notification via the app is often more efficient than an e-mail that gets lost in a crowded mailbox and is less threatening or inconvenient than a reminder on a smartphone. 2. Self-service kiosks Self-service kiosks are already established in many sectors (think about buying a ticket for the train, placing an order at a popular fast-food chain or buying a ticket for the cinema). We also see them popping up more and more in self-storage facilities or just outside, at the entrance. Signing the lease can be done by using the (outside) kiosk (for example in combination with an identity card reader). At the kiosk, tenants can open the facility gate or the door of their unit by using their personal access code. Do the units in your facility have a padlock and key? If so, there are also kiosks that can dispense and collect these. On the kiosk's LED screen, tenants can often also see a map of the facility showing the shortest route to their unit. Similar to a mobile app, such kiosks can provide the option to renew, cancel or pay rent (for example, by scanning a QR code). The self-service kiosk also often functions as an intercom, with video. A tenant can contact the facility's staff via a video call. This means that the staff does not necessarily need to be present at the facility. Kiosks are also usually accompanied by a software or management system that ensures that every action taken by the user is registered. Through this system, reports or databases can easily be run without requiring any action from an employee. 3. Robotics People are no longer surprised when they hear the term 'robot'. Robotics has also gradually made its appearance in the self-storage sector. In Europe, there are already some branches in France that work with robots. These robots function as self-service kiosks on wheels. The advantage over (stationary) kiosks is that robots can give tours and thus guide the tenant to his/her unit. Like the kiosk, the robot can provide a live connection to the store manager who can then answer questions from the tenant. Robots can also be used for hygienic purposes. The coronavirus pandemic has made hygiene an absolute priority more than ever, also in a self-storage facility. In Thailand, for example, a self-storage facility uses a robot that uses ultraviolet radiation to destroy viruses and bacteria that are present on surfaces or in the air. 4. Biometric security Security is a core value within the self-storage sector. Tenants pay to have their belongings safely stored. Surveillance cameras are already standard. Biometric security, on the other hand, is still rare. However, this type of security is practically impenetrable and is therefore the best solution for securing a unit. Biometric security can range from voice analysis to fingerprint or facial recognition. Nowadays, every new smartphone is equipped with this technology. Why not a self-storage (unit)? One thing to consider when installing biometric security is the possibility of someone other than the actual tenant having access to the unit. In some cases, this is indeed desirable, for example when a couple rents a unit. Customer experience Introducing technology correctly in your self-storage unit contributes to improving the customer experience of your tenant. After all, consumers want to be helped quickly and efficiently. An app, self-service kiosk or robot can provide this by, for example, answering to standard questions or automating the performance of frequent actions. Does this mean that human interaction has become superfluous? No, it does not. Contrary to what many people may think, it is not a question of machine or man, but of machine and man. In order to be assisted efficiently, it is necessary that the (tenant) customer is well understood. If not, you risk a frustrated customer. A self-service kiosk or robot with a live video chat function, for example, can prevent this problem. Customers should feel that if the technology does not provide them with the answer they are looking for, they still have a person to turn to. An important thing to keep in mind is that in a society where technology is increasingly becoming the norm, it is the human touch that makes the difference. Therefore, try to make your digital interaction with your tenant-customer as personal as possible. In the software of your app, kiosk or robot, for instance, provide a number of tenant profiles so you can categorize your tenant-customer and deliver information that is relevant to him or her. The data you collect through the use of technology will help you do this. Want to join our unique online marketplace for self-storage? Simply register and start renting via Book Your Box! Click here for more info! Any questions? Contact us via the contact form or via the chat function! Photo by Anton Maksimov juvnsky on Unsplash
[This blog is a translation of the original Dutch version published on May 21, 2021.] In our previous blog on the impact of Covid-19 on the self-storage sector, we outlined the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis. In present blog we shift the focus to the actions that self-storage operators could take to limit any negative financial impact. We distinguish two situations. What about defaulting tenants? Prevention is the best cure(literally and figuratively). For example, it helps to properly inform tenants at the time of concluding the rental agreement about the payment terms as well as the consequences of failing to meet a payment on time. Direct debiting, if possible, is preferred and can be presented to tenants as a means of avoiding penalties in case of late payments. Follow-up of payments becomes even more important. Verification of contact details when drawing up the lease agreement is advised. Reminder calls have a personal touch and allow for anticipation and a targeted search for a solution, together with the tenant in case of payment difficulties. It is important to maintain a balance between the right to be paid and understanding the current situation in which a tenant may find himself. In any case, it is worthwhile to read your current rent collection policy and possibly update it in light of the corona pandemic (source: Inside Self-Storage). My occupancy rate is falling, and now? What if the financial consequences result in a decrease in occupancy due to the lack of new tenants? This is a more fundamental problem than defaults. Adjusting your own rental conditions (read: lowering rents) may offer a temporary solution, but is neither structural nor profitable in the long term. We therefore urge self-storage operators to think ahead. As in so many sectors since the pandemic, the self-storage sector will also know an era pre and post coronavirus. The pandemic accelerated the evolution of society. Governments, companies and consumers developed new habits in a very short timeframe and these new habits are here to stay. Just think of remote work, working only by appointment and the boost in e-commerce. Consumers expect to find all relevant information online and to be able to make purchases instantly. In Belgium, for example, internet traffic increased by 60% in 2020 compared to 2019 (source: Telenet). Digitalization can no longer be held back, neither in the world of self-storage. Book Your Box already offers self-storage operators the possibility to reach new tenants through an online channel. Next to digitalization, personal space and (hand) hygiene are here to stay. It is important for the operator to show (potential) tenants that the facility pays sufficient attention to these elements, even after the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted. It is likely that tenants will start to value this and that it will become part of their customer experience. By anticipating these evolutions, a self-storage operator distinguishes itself from its competitors, which will not go unnoticed by tenants. Self-storage operators should realize that 2021-2022 is a transition period and that the sector, although so far spared from a negative Covid-19 impact, is not immune to the many changes the pandemic has set in motion. Key message is to evolve with it. A partnership with Book Your Box offers self-storage operators a means to present themselves to an ever-increasing online audience. Are you looking for an additional, online marketing channel to find new tenants? Register now on Book Your Box! Click here for more info! Image by Pixabay via Pexels
[This blog is a translation of the original Dutch version published on May 21, 2021] 2020 has gone down in history as the year when a quirky virus held the whole world hostage. Covid-19 has had an impact on (almost) all sectors. What about the self-storage sector in Europe? The general financial situation of a self-storage can be assessed - albeit simplified - using three parameters: property prices, occupancy rate and rent collection. The impact of real estate prices Property prices are important to the self-storage operator in two ways: it determines the value of current premises and affects expansion plans through acquisition of property . JLL reports that the take-up volume for industrial and logistics property in Belgium for 2020 is at the third highest rate in the past 10 years. Driven by the increase in e-commerce, logistic real estate did particularly well. Although the take-up volume for semi-industrial real estate decreased compared to 2019, demand remains very high. Conclusion: The pandemic does not immediately affect the value of self-storage real estate. Operators of a self-storage facility located near a logistical hub even saw the value of their property rise! (Source: JLL) The effect of the occupancy rate The lockdown months of March, April and May 2020 resulted in a status quo in terms of occupancy rate. On the one hand, no new tenants could be attracted, on the other hand, existing tenants' rent continued to be paid due to the limited possibilities to pick up and move out their belongings. The 2020 Fedessa survey confirms this trend. The occupancy rate at the two reference months, February and June 2020, does not differ much (overall occupancy rate is 79%). The occupancy rate in June was even slightly higher in many countries. We saw the same trend in the United States. Data for the second half of 2020 is not yet publicly available. In view of the still to be expected real impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy -when government support measures are withdrawn- a decline in occupancy cannot be ruled out. In the professional renting segment, bankruptcies are likely, which may in turn have an effect on the occupancy rate. The fact that private person tenants tend to stay put is an argument for assuming that self-storage owners do not immediately have to fear a decline in occupancy rates in 2021 (source: Inside Self-Storage). What about rent-a-collection? A high occupancy rate is great, but it does not help self-storage operators much when their tenants have trouble paying rent. The lockdown months and the first months thereafter made this (extra) clear. During this pandemic, self-storage operators have to deal with tenants who pay late, request a postponement of payment or ask for a waiver of (part of) their rent. Best case scenario, this disrupts the landlord's cash flow. Worst case scenario, it leads to termination of the lease agreement along with the risk of being left with unpaid rent. The Fedessa 2020 survey reports that in May 2020, 90% of rents were collected within the respective payment periods. In our view, data from May 2020 provides an incomplete picture of the impact of Covid-19 on the timely payment of rents. Indeed, payment difficulties will not occur immediately in the first months of the crisis (or during the period of government support), but at a later stage. Payment problems can be the precursor of a (temporary) decline in occupancy rates. On the other hand, one can assume that new tenants who decide to rent a self-storage unit today, have been able to assess the impact of Covid-19 on their financial situation. This in contrast to current tenants for whom Covid-19 is an unforeseen circumstance. Are you looking for an online marketing channel to reach new tenants? Then simply register now on Book Your Box! Click here for more info! Image by CDC via Pexels