Same Storage Units, Different Values
Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, once famously implied that convenience decides everything. This is in reference to, understandably, the Internet. He said, “The internet makes human desires more easily attainable. In other words, it offers convenience.” He further adds, “…Convenience on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease.”
Williams sees the Internet not as something new per se. Rather, it is another way for people to do what they already do, but more conveniently. For example, when you shop you can compare many products and prices easily, have relevant product suggestions at your fingertips, and have the product delivered to you the next day.
Last year, in Forbes’ corporate Reputational Quotient Survey, Amazon came out on top. (Amazon came in at #2 in 2019.) According to Forbe’s, “Amazon continues to lead because convenience is not only an ideal, it is, as The Wharton School’s Katja Seim points out, their ‘core product.'”
Let’s go to the actual definition(s) of “convenience”:
- Oxford: “The state of being able to proceed with something without difficulty.”
- Merriam-Webster: “Something (such as an appliance, device, or service) conducive to comfort or ease.”
- Dictionary.com: “Anything that saves or simplifies work, adds to one’s ease or comfort, etc., as an appliance, utensil, or the like.”
It’s interesting that both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com includes “comfort” as part of “convenience”. In the physical world, comfort indeed becomes more relevant.
For the self-storage provider, the service provided is fundamentally one of convenience. Self-storage providers offer customers the space to store their possessions, so they can be free of clutter in their homes and have (significantly) less to carry if they are in transition. And, in the case of commercial businesses, it enables goods to be stored and accessed more conveniently than would otherwise be possible.
But even within a self-storage facility, there are differing levels of convenience.
While convenience “on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease,” convenience in the self-storage facility is essentially determined by unit size and configuration; accessibility; and environmental factors (think climate control).
Self-storage facilities typically offer varying sized units, such as 5’ x 10’, 10’ x 10’, and so on. But, even for the same sized unit, there are differing levels of convenience due to differences of accessibility (e.g., number of hallway turns from an elevator or access point) and climate control.
So indeed, the same physical unit may in fact be viewed differently based on the factors we discussed, and thereby be valued differently. A customer might even be willing to spend more to use a smaller unit that is very easily accessible than a larger unit that is less so. For many, the idea that a 100 square foot unit could be rented for more than a 150 square foot unit may come as a surprise, but in our experience, this is actually the case more often than you might imagine. And with that in mind, we will discuss what different levels of convenience means to pricing in a future blog.