Broad Street Storage – Building with Community in Mind
Whether your plans are big or small–or whether it’s your first build or your tenth or more–there are many factors to consider when developing your self-storage facility. One of the many is being sure to attract the customers in your area. But how do you build with community in mind?
Chase Morgan of Morgan Enterprises, a co-owner and operator of Broad Street Storage, helped design their high-end mini-storage to match its market in San Luis Obispo. We caught up with Chase to get his insights on how to build a business primed for the customers you want to serve.
Make Matters Personal
Morgan Enterprises is a family business. Chase’s father bought the land for the Broad Street facility over fifteen years ago. His intention was always to build a mini-storage, and he went through the whole planning process to complete it at that time. But in 2008, the economy tanked. “So he shelved it,” Chase explained. Then, four or five years ago, Bill Morgan approached his son, who was working in tech in the Bay Area. “He said, ‘Hey, are you interested in building this thing on the side?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Chase told us.
Chase shifted away from his tech career as his “side” job naturally took off. He even moved down to San Luis Obispo as he and Bill developed Broad Street Storage. Sharing this endeavor with his father put a people-first mentality at the heart of their business.
Family matters are not always easy–but they are always personal.
Cater to Your Customers
Broad Street Storage, with its 442 units, is the newest facility of its kind in the county, but it’s already scheduled for its second phase: a plan to double in size. Located on the temperate Central Coast of California, San Luis Obispo was ranked Top 10 in Gallup’s “American Well-Being” survey, and National Geographic designated it the 5th “Happiest City” in the country. Surrounded by beaches, mountains, and vineyards, this “college town” has wide sidewalks around a central square. No wonder that it is quickly becoming a hub for people of all ages.
Regarding the growing population is a major factor in Chase’s evolving design plans, as well as how he’s evaluated worthwhile expenses. When it was under its first phase of construction, Broad Street Storage appeared so grand and polished that people kept asking him if it was a retail center or office complex. While an impressive design is not functionally necessary for most storage facilities, Chase learned to adjust his plans to meet the expectations of his customers–who were used to visually appealing spaces.
Be Part of the Community
“The design was a collaboration between us, the architect, and the county,” Chase shared. Broad Street is positioned along a heavily trafficked road that leads into town. So all parties had to work together to make sure the facade of the property was particularly welcoming. “The county did push us, in a sense, to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing than normal.” Of course, architectural details like arches and stucco didn’t seem so practical to implement from a business standpoint.
But when Chase considered the views of his collaborators–especially as a city resident–it all made sense. “We figured that this could be our flagship self-storage facility,” Chase told us. By listening to his team, Chase was able to see the benefit of having an unusually beautiful storage building at the forefront of an unusually beautiful community–one he was also a part of.
Get Contributors on Board Early
Your subcontractors need to have a cohesive mission, because they are a part of your internal community. “One bad subcontractor can cause a lot of problems with all the other trades,” Chase warned us. Failure to work together well can affect your morale, your schedule, and even your costs. At every step of the process, you want knowledgeable contributors to understand as much as they can about your shared vision.
So from the start, you’ll have to work with an architect on most of the design details in order to have a sturdy project. And you’ll always have to work with external community input of one kind or another along the way. But getting a builder involved early is also key. That builder should have extensive understanding of the design process, with all its potential challenges. “Bringing a builder like Mako in around the time after a site plan has been approved and you start drawing up the plans is critical,” Chase explained. A builder will work alongside your architect, and the sooner he or she gets on board, the less bumpy your development is likely to be. Bringing a builder in late in the game could be problematic for your plans, and could delay the whole process while the architect is forced to redraw them.
Although Broad Street was his very first build, this experience, Chase told us, was one of his smoothest. He chose to build with Mako Rabco, who work with owner/operators like Chase nationwide, providing both materials and guidance. “Their design process is fantastic, their Project Managers are great…Every question that I had, any issue, I would give ‘em a ring and they would say, ‘Let me get you a solution by the end of the day.’ And by the end of the day, I would have a solution.”
Don’t Forget: It Takes a Village
Creating a standout storage facility has everything to do with working with others. Have a people-focused mission first and foremost, and whether or not you’re in a family business, make community family. Don’t forget to cater to the people in your town, city, or county. Consider your customers, whatever they need, and make those needs your own (whether you move into town yourself or not). Get your contractors fleshed out early–them working together well is essential to your plans. If you build fully with a community mindset, you’ll reap the rewards of a lucrative business that functions beautifully in your specific market, wherever that may be.