Self Storage: The ABC’s of the 4 D’s

Any owner/operator who’s worked in self-storage long enough has most likely heard of the “4 D’s of self-storage.” Essentially, the 4 D’s categorizes the primary reasons people rent a storage unit. To those uninitiated, the 4 D’s of self-storage are: Divorce, Death, Dislocation, and Downsizing. Sounds like the winning recipe for happy customers, right?

The self-storage team at Linkmedia 360 isn’t necessarily recommending that your team denounces the 4 D’s entirely. While we feel this mnemonic device is a helpful place to begin, we would best describe this approach as “dated.” Simply put, your team is leaving occupancy revenue on the table by adhering to this antiquated customer model.

Our advice? Dig deeper. In this week’s post, we’ll look at ways to go beyond the 4 D’s, and hopefully help your team differentiate your facility from your competition.

Dig Deeper than the 4 D’s

Many owners/operators cling to the 4 D’s like a religion, and article’s like this recent St. Louis Dispatch story don’t help to reverse that trend. However, if your team does a little digging, you’ll most likely discover your customers don’t always fit into these categories as neatly as you think. Instead, use your data, your unique location and your existing customers to drive your facility’s strategy.

Data Drives Self-Storage Innovation

Before the days of Google Adwords and robust reporting software, the 4 D’s acted as a simple compass – crudely pointing your team to the type of person who is likely to need your services. Now, with the help of analytics, marketers can fill the many gaps created by the 4 D’s.

Information doesn’t lie, and by paying close attention to your website’s analytics, your team will discover the intent driving people to your facility. Track the keywords your website is ranking for, and compare them with your competition. Your team may uncover opportunities to reach new customers who don’t fit the standard mold. This will help your facility discover what’s truly important to your customers and remove guesswork from the equation.

Know Your Neck of the Woods

The largest oversight of the 4 D’s is the fact that it doesn’t address the other (compelling) reasons why people rent storage units. For example, this oversimplification fails to speak to tenants renting units in urban areas vs. rural renters.

As this SSA blog post argues, while self-storage is driven by life events, not all of those events are doom and gloom. Instead of focusing your facility’s efforts on the 4 D’s, take a magnifying lens to your immediate area. Is your facility located near the campus of a university? Or is your facility nearby an affluent allotment? What about military bases? Depending on where your facility is located, your customer base could be far larger and more diverse than you’re giving it credit for. By adhering to the 4 D’s, your facility is limiting its chances of maximizing occupancy and increasing revenue.

Send a Survey

Want to really test the 4 D’s of self-storage model? Simply ask your customers why they’re renting a unit from your facility. The answers may surprise you. A short survey won’t cost much to create, but could fuel insights you would have otherwise overlooked.

At the very least, your team will better understand the reasons why most of your local tenants are renting units. Your team can then use demographics to further segment the responses you receive, creating an even clearer picture.

At the end of the day, there isn’t one tried and true model for self-storage success. While acronyms are great for memory, they don’t speak to the complexities of the self-storage customer. Customize your strategy to your specific location. Don’t be afraid to take a deeper dive than your competition. Of course, if your team does encounter a question, or doesn’t know where to begin, contact us. We’ll do our best to put your self storage facility on the right track.

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