The Six Most Important Words In Self-Storage Investing

If I was on a game show and I had to choose just six words that I could use to build a successful self-storage facility portfolio, here’s what I would select:

“What Do I Have To Do …”

So why are these six words so powerful in buying and operating storage properties? How can they give you the edge in being successful? There are many reasons.

They create a sense of urgency

When you say the words “what do I have to do …” it signals that you want to cut through the typical bureaucratic red tape and political correctness that are all typically stuck with and want to get down to the truth. Whether it’s a part of getting a price from a seller, a loan from the bank, or a signed lease from a customer on the fence, these words are the universal language of someone that doesn’t want to wait until tomorrow to get the deal done. And almost all Americans respect this.

They elicit the breaking of blockades on forward progress

Sometimes the storage facility owner can’t arrive at a price or can’t make a final decision on whether to sell or not. These six words can often end that logjam as it signals an attitude of workability and a desire to make the deal come to a winning conclusion for both parties. Effectively it says “I don’t care what it takes, just tell me what you need from this deal?” and that’s often the extra push you need to get the property under contract. I’ve used that phrase many times when the answer is such a small item that it’s scary that the deal might be lost to maybe an extra $5,000 or an extra ½ point of interest on a seller-carry note.

They let the customer know that you really want their business

When a customer is on the fence between two different storage facilities, you can close the deal with the use of “what do I have to do …” to close the sale. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a token item like a free bottle of water or a candy bar. Others may want a small reduction in the first month’s rent. Any of these offers you should immediately embrace and get that customer signed up. There’s very little the customer can respond to without allowing the storage facility to get the deal closed.

They are a part of win/win deal making and win/win operations

One reason that these six words are so powerful is that they represent an attitude of inclusion and the desire to get a win/win ending that makes the seller or the customer have a direct voice in forging a solution that is mutually agreeable to both parties. You see, most sellers and customers are conditioned to think that one party makes an offer, and then they have to decide to counter it or not. But when you say “what do I have to do…” you are saying “I really value your opinion and input and I want you to share in how this all works out”. Very convincing.


If you want to succeed in self-storage buying and operating of facilities, then you would do well to add “what do I have to do …” to your vocabulary. Those are the most important six words that any storage professional can muster to solve many of the hurdles that come up. Use them.

Frank Rolfe has been an active self-storage investor for around two decades, with self-storage units in many states throughout the U.S. His nuts and bolts knowledge of what makes for a successful self-storage facility has led to a three-decade career without a single failed property.