What type of research did Wilson conduct prior to entering the market?
Our Group operates in every state of Australia & throughout all regions of New Zealand. We have Branch infrastructure & executive teams operating in every major city. We therefore keep a very close eye on the commercial & industrial property markets in these regions.
In more recent times the Wilson Group has been monitoring the steady growth of the Australasian self-storage sector. We firmly believe the industry type provides a natural alignment & fit to our Group’s extensive experience in property management, customer service & associated security / access control services.
Our significant research of the Australasian industry & more specifically the Victorian self-storage sector convinced us to pursue opportunities to become an active & ongoing member of this exciting industry for the longer term.
In order to succeed we developed a 10 point Business Plan that is strictly adhered to when determining all potential self-storage facility developments or acquisitions.
What opportunity did Wilson spot and how has it been exploited?
Our analysis indicated that both Victoria & Western Australia provided the better opportunity for Wilson to enter the market given they have metropolitan catchment areas experiencing population growth / density that are currently underserviced by the industry.
Two fundamental components of our Business Plan determined that a successful entry into this growing industry would need to be in a catchment area relatively un-crowded by other established operators & just as importantly, have proven self-storage demand not currently being met by the industry.
Our search of such a location in Victoria meeting these fundamental criteria was found to exist in Bayside Melbourne. The Nepean Highway borders a catchment area of suburbs located from Port Phillip Bay to the west and the highway to the east. Bayside Melbourne is also undergoing strong & sustained population growth which meets another critical component of our Business Plan.
In October 2013 Wilson Storage commenced operations of our very first facility following the acquisition of an existing storage facility located on busy Reserve Road Cheltenham, a well located & professionally operated site previously owned by Guardian Storage.
Our strategy to acquire & operate this relatively small 87 unit facility was on the basis it was to be a satellite site controlled & managed by a brand new significantly larger green field site located some 500 metres away on a major arterial – Bay Road Cheltenham.
After a concentrated fit-out period we commenced operations at our new Bay Road facility in December 2013 & successfully consolidated the operations of both Cheltenham facilities on time & on budget.
Achieving > 74% NLA Wilson Storage currently offers more than 300 units to market with the ability to provide a further 250 units in a second stage fit-out program once initial capacity has been taken up by the growing local customer base.
What are the features of your facilities?
We spent more than two years investigating the range of products & services provided by the more established members of the SSAA & developed a business plan that provides Wilson Storage the ability to offer customers a combination of proven industry service initiatives as well as our own unique offerings.
By analysing the data provided in recent SSAA Storage Demand Studies we also took into consideration what customers were seeking from the industry moving forward.
Our facilities are located on busy main roads with easy access for all types of vehicles.
We are open to the public 7 days a week & our customers can securely book & pay for our services online via our website or by direct debit / credit card.
Our facilities provide welcoming open plan customer service & merchandise display areas including a variable unit space cavity to assist customers in their final determination of unit size requirements.
We are fastidious about maintaining clean, well-lit & user friendly operations .Our Group’s strong buying power ensures that we provide the highest standard of maintenance & utility services at the very best price, which we can pass on to the benefit of our customers.
Our commitment to the environment includes the facilitation of low energy lighting systems supported by movement sensor activation & the use of as much natural light as possible within our fit-out design.
Do you offer any additional services & how does the business target the needs of its local market?
Wilson Storage customers are provided 24 / 7 access using a single proximity card that can be activated for either single or multiple unit access at single or multiple sites. The card also links validated ingress / egress to the respective individual storage unit alarm systems.
Our management team have 24 / 7 visibility of all security & management systems via their mobile devices / laptops. We are therefore able to instantly respond to any after-hour Customer Service matter.
We provide 24 / 7 access for climate controlled wine storage by residential & commercial customers & include exclusive discount wine offers & invitations to attend wine events / tastings via our commercially aligned partners.
We offer undercover & open air parking bays for boat / vehicle storage, all fully monitored via CCTV & intercoms on a 24 / 7 basis & moving vans that can be hired on an hourly basis.
To further exploit the benefits of our Group all Wilson Storage customers are provided with regular discounted parking & security service offers via regular email correspondence.
How does your knowledge of the parking and security industries relate to self storage?
The Wilson Group was established in 1962 & for more than 50 years has been providing professional services to the property sector in parking management & operations; security manpower & monitoring as well as the supply, installation & maintenance of sophisticated access control & security systems.
Our aim is to offer customers the safest possible experience when using our storage facilities. As is the case within our national parking customer base the majority of decisions made by storage customers when choosing a location are made by women and their expectations are to be provided a very high standard of cleanliness & safety when spending their money with you.
We are also aware that brand counts for everything & must be maintained to the highest standard. We ensure that our facilities are highly visible to passing pedestrian / vehicle traffic & we install highly efficient low energy floodlight systems to best expose our Brand to the market as well as enhancing the level of safety for customers who use our facilities at night.
Wilson Storage facilities are constantly monitored by our Wilson Security team using the Group’s proprietary internally / externally placed CCTV & intercom systems linked & responded to via our National Operations Centre located in the Melbourne CBD.
Each day / night of the year Wilson Storage facilities are visited by a fully trained Wilson Patrol Service ensuring that the credibility of our security systems & property surveillance protocols are fully operational all of the time.
What types of marketing initiatives have been undertaken by the business & how are staff involved in the business?
Our Customer Service team is the most important component of our business. Their personal interaction with our customers generates trust & loyalty.
We are very fortunate to have the team being led by an experienced & enthusiastic Commercial Operations Manager who has honed his skills for more than 15 years in the Australian self-storage industry. Our commitment to the provision of the highest quality of Customer Service delivery is supported by regular training & product development for our staff. We listen to what they hear as being most relevant for our customer’s needs & act accordingly.
Initially we conducted an extensive local advertising campaign which included a high quality double-sided DL card being deposited into more than 100,000 Bayside residential & commercial properties. This in turn has generated many enquiries but more importantly has introduced Wilson Storage as a new operator to the local market.
Strong branding on our facilities in terms of external signage & lighting systems is supported by our website & social media portals. Currently more than 20% of enquiries are being generated by electronic media. Going forward our target is achieving > 50% enquiry rates via the internet.
We are committed to participating in local community activities & we support a number of local education & sporting facilities within the Bayside community.
What do you see as the challenges for the Industry & where do you see the Industry heading?
The industry continues to evolve both in the scope of products offered to market as well as how we communicate with customers.
In our Wilson Parking division we recognise that the next generation of customers may not be old enough to drive a car but they are totally competent in the use of smart devices. Our future self-storage customers will also be seeking to both communicate / transact with us via these devices. We need to remain ahead of the curve & be prepared to adopt systems that cater for how our customers choose to communicate & purchase rather than dictate current practices to them.
Another challenge is to facilitate operations in prime catchment areas where the increasing cost of land may in fact deter the viability of a site. The ability to install the most efficient operating systems without compromising service and safety is therefore critically important when undertaking feasibility studies.
Whilst in operation for more than 25 years the self-storage industry in Australasia will most likely become more diverse in its product offering & locations of facilities may deviate from current & past trends.
To be best prepared for change we need to keep a close eye on global trends & be nimble enough to alter our means to market in line with our future customer expectations.