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What’s The Value of a Self-Storage Unit?


intangible value, John Ray, Price and Value Journey

The operator of such a facility is selling space based on square footage, location, amenities such as air conditioning, etc.—all features of the service.


What consumers are buying, however, is completely intangible: a storehouse for memories.


This point was made in a recent episode of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘌𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴, a podcast that’s in my regular listening rota. (I commend it to you if you’re curious about the business models and economics behind such things as used golf balls, card counting, top-level domains, or movie sound effects.)


In their examination of the self-storage business, they note that while the default rate for unit rentals is rather low, it happens. People die, have economic troubles, or maybe just forget. Upon foreclosure, the contents of the unit are sold at auction.


In the podcast, veteran industry consultant Anne Mari DeCoster observes that such foreclosure sales rarely deliver enough proceeds to cover the back rent. Most of what’s stored has little to no value to virtually everyone who buys it.


DeCoster goes on to make a vital point: self-storage consumers aren't just renting space. They are buying memory storage. Whether it’s their old high school yearbooks, the cute crafts their kids made, or old furniture inherited from grandma, all of these items are essentially memories. They’re something completely intangible.


Your business model, if you’re a solo or small firm professional services provider, is quite similar. While your service has its tangible features, clients are really buying other outcomes only they can value. It might be security, hope, peace of mind, or time.


If you understand the intangibles clients are looking for when they're considering an engagement with you, then you can speak in their language. You become much more compelling and interesting. Your service becomes more of a need than a want. Your ability to price effectively improves significantly.


Your business becomes a lot more fun, too.


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