1. What is your name and what is your position?
Malcolm Collins, Board Member – Service Member Representative and Director, Collins & Associates
2. How/Why did you first become involved in self storage?
I was working at Arthur Andersen in the mid 1990’s and I was asked to value a facility in Box Hill operated by a bloke called Bob Marsh. He spent two hours telling me about the business before we even inspected the building. I was hooked by his passion for the industry, his willingness to answer all my questions, and his candid view on the world. I decided there must be something special about the people in this industry – and I was proved right!
3. What do you think has been the biggest change to self storage since you first entered the industry?
It’s changed from being a “mum and dad” industry with bored people on front counters filling in their time baby-sitting “industrial” properties and ignoring customers, to being a much more dynamic, retail-orientated industry based on and around committed service providers, people and service. Some businesses are much better at this than others! And let’s not forget about the internet, technology and the digital world – and the owner’s ability to use it for commercial advantage. Knowledge is value.
4. What is your best tip for managing staff in self storage?
From what I’ve seen over more than twenty years – employ good people with a passion for what they do, then empower them to “own the store”, give them concurrent responsibility to make decisions….. and make you redundant.
5. What is your message to members of the SSAA?
Be involved with the industry. Attend regional meetings where you can, go to the conference, use SSAA staff training, give the Board ideas. Meet other owners and operators, swap ideas and tips. Trade-off your competitors in an intelligent manner – strong discounting is a great way to financially bleed to death. Operate your business as if it’s ready to sell – with excellent data, great service, positive ownership, a good story to tell.
6. What do you see as the biggest threat to, or competition for, self storage?
Apathy. If you don’t care, or if people are happy to just commercially survive, it shows. An inability to learn better ways to operate. An inability to learn from mistakes.
7. What do you think are the opportunities for growth in self storage?
Keep up with the digital age. Online and modern business is fundamentally altering our lives. Many small businesses need storage without leases and adaptable space(s) with easy access. Post-box and parcel delivery space. Many older people (like me) need storage to keep our treasures in – or the kids stuff! Talk to your clients, find out what they need.
8. If you could look into the future, what do you see for self storage?
Opportunities to buy, sell, amalgamate, expand – or just do better with the asset you have. Remember you have a saleable commodity.
9. Describe your ideal holiday destination.
The Greek Islands in summer, a large sailing boat, my family and best friends – and a crew!
10. Finish this sentence – “Nobody likes a…
Smart-arse”. Genuine people attract other genuine people. I don’t have time to waste on time-wasters.
11. What is your favourite meal?
The next one! I love simple food (see Greek Islands above).
12. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Dog, absolutely. My kids and I still remember all those bike rides and cliff-races with “our Bess” when they, I and she was young.
13. What ‘life advice’ would you give to a younger version of yourself?
Enjoy life, see the silver linings and don’t worry about what you can’t control. This is a big world, there’s always something new to find and someone new to meet.