A+ Self Storage was recognized as the 2002 Small Business of the Year in the Quad Cities and has continued to expand according to its original business plan developed with the help of SCORE. That plan originally called for 83 climate controlled units accessible only through interior hallways and these were the first units opened.
The plan next called for the addition of 52 outside (non-climate controlled) units and these were opened in June of 2004 and were totally filled within four months. Follow-on plans call for constructing an additional two-story building with about 140 more storage units in 2007. Dan said his analysis of storage units in the Quad Cities shows there is still a shortage of units and he does not expect any problem in filling new units.
Original plans called for the new expansion to happen sooner, but Dan and Dawn are expanding their family first, with their second child due in September. As he did for the first year of their first child, Dan expects to keep the baby at work with him to learn the business from the ground up. Taking care of a new baby will just be too hectic to start an expansion of this magnitude sooner than 2007, according to Dan. Dawn continues to work fulltime as representative for a pharmaceutical company.
In addition to the storage business, Dan also runs a U-Haul rental business. The storage units help bring customers for the rental trucks, but Dan says he does not push the U-Haul business as much as when he started, since he is a one man operation and he cannot be by the phones every minute.
One of the more interesting aspects of the work, according to Dan, is the people he meets. The business’s customers are anybody who needs extra storage including: business reps wanting storage for products needing climate control; businesses needing storage for their materials so they do not have to rent a shop; a lady needing to store fabrics for quilting; people in between houses; college students storing their school furniture. With all these customers, Dan tries to do the little things to help make their lives easier.
One way of doing this is by steering people to the right size unit to rent. The units range from as small as 5 feet by 5 feet to as large as 10 feet by 20 feet. With the experience he has had, Dan says he has now achieved senior status in figuring out what will fit in various size units.
Dan also has, in at least one case, helped another person get started in the storage business. Mert Sachs, a SCORE counselor, referred a man about to start a storage business to Dan for advice and Dan discussed the business with him. The man now has his storage site in operation.
In fact, Dan shares information with other storage sites in the area and will refer customers to other sites if he cannot meet their needs. He will even call around to other sites to see if they have the right opening to meet a customer’s needs. After all, customer service is 90 per- cent of what Dan does.
“Customer service is 90 percent of what we do” according to Dan Luna, co-owner with his wife Dawn of A+ Self Storage, Inc. of Davenport. This may sound obvious for any service business, but A+ Self Storage has been putting this theme into practice since it was founded nearly five years ago. Evidence of their customer satisfaction is the continuing high occupancy rate of the storage units, reaching 98 per- cent during the busy summer season. Even in March, one of the slower months, occupancy was at 93 percent.