When I first started exploring the idea of buying a self-storage facility, I quickly realized the importance of having a clear, concise, comprehensive due diligence checklist.
After cold calling and sending out letters to hundreds of facility owners near me, I realized there were a lot of standard questions I needed answered about each property in order to understand things like,
- The current state of the facility.
- The property's current earnings.
- The property's true earning potential.
- Where the opportunities were to improve that facility and make it as profitable as it can be.
- How much I could realistically offer for the property.
I had a vague idea of what I should be asking, but when I started having these conversations myself, I recognized the need for a standard list of questions so I would always know what information to gather so I could understand the full story of the good, bad and ugly of each property before I made an offer to buy.
Self Storage Information Checklist
As I had done with other property types in the past, I needed to compile an extensive list of questions I need to ask when talking to each facility owner.
Not a “script” per se, but something that would prompt me on how to start the conversation, what comes next, and how to wrap it up.
So I created a simple phone call checklist to help me through each conversation.
It included all the essential questions that needed to be answered in order for me to either make an offer or walk away from the deal altogether.
This checklist helped me a lot. Even after all the storage facility owners I've talked to, I still refer to this checklist every time I get on the phone. It's a great tool to have at my side during these conversations.
If you’re in need of a similar checklist as you're investigating potential storage facility acquisitions, you're more than welcome to use mine (see below).
What Do You Need to Know?
What kinds of questions should you ask when you're talking to a seller?
It depends on what kind of storage facility you're targeting.
For example, if the subject property is a Class A storage facility with indoor, climate-controlled storage, you'll be asking different questions than someone who owns a Class C storage facility with cold storage. Likewise, if the subject property is an outdoor boat and RV storage yard, your questions will be even more different.
Historically, the properties I've been most interested in are Class C storage facilities with drive-up cold storage. As such, my checklist includes questions that pertain to this property type.
Luckily, most of these same questions also pertain to other types of storage facilities and even if I have no idea what kind of facility owner I'm talking to, these questions will get to the bottom of the issue pretty quickly.
Want to Use My Checklist?
Knowing what to ask your prospects is pretty simple. You just need to take a few minutes and think about it:
- What information will you need to know in order to make an educated offer?
- What things will you need to research before you're ready to close the deal?
- What findings would cause you to say “YES, I want to buy!” or “No, thank you!” – those are the questions you should be asking!
The relevant questions aren't always obvious, especially with self-storage facilities, which can have all kinds of hidden issues that won't rear their ugly faces until after they've become a problem.
If you're looking for a quick solution on how to handle this—you're welcome to take my checklist and run with it!
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Targeted Questions Save Time
Now, even though these questions have been great at helping me pull out most of the information I need, I'm not saying my checklist is perfect.
There may be odd issues that pertain to the facilities you're researching that I haven't come across yet, but either way, when you start having conversations with sellers, you'll do yourself a BIG favor by being armed with a list of the most important information you need to know.
Think about it—if you don't thoroughly understand what you need to know, why are you talking to these people in the first place? You'll sound a lot more intelligent and professional if you know exactly where each conversation needs to go before you pick up the phone or send that first email.
Finding these storage facility owners and starting conversations with them is going to cost you something—either time or money (or both), so make the most of what you're investing by being prepared.
This is why I created this checklist. Because my pea-sized brain isn't big enough to remember everything I need to ask in the heat of the moment. Even if it doesn't give me ALL the answers in one conversation, it does help me get started on the right foot with each property owner I talk to.