Finally. Ross’s Web site is done

Ross Self Storage Extravaganza
During the wedding ceremony I performed at Ross Self Storage last June, the groom gives me a high-five.

I’ll give you this: Me owning a self-storage facility is not exactly what I envisioned as a child when I thought of professions I might like to pursue.

Might seem my destiny was already somewhat sealed when Mom and Dad bought the nearly one-acre sized property in Butler County on the site of the former Meadowbrook Inn (now the Meadowbrook Banquet Center, owned by Hilvers Catering). In reality, though, I think the thought of owning a storage facility appealed to me more originally than running one. That being said, I feel that over the past 12 months or so I have begun to really grow into the role of “self storage facility manager” and the enthusiasm that got me here in the first place (i.e. taking this over from my parents who started it in 1981) has returned. I can see again where this is all going and see its potential is pretty amazing. A turnaround in the economy, a little bit of a housing boom in southwestern Butler County (as was expected in pre-recession) and I can see big things in the future.

Even without an amazing economic bounce-back, I think things are going to be pretty good for a while in the self storage industry for a variety of reasons. Seems that storage is one of those things that people need when times are good and when times are bad. It’s a viable alternative for all sorts of situations all sorts of people find themselves in all the time. Helps that I have the latitude to be very competitively priced and have a location in an area that is still growing.

The short-term good news is small, but good. Every tenant is paid up for the first time in a long time, expectations have been clearly defined, I have only a couple empty bays (and a third giant one where my father kept his stuff that needs some finishing touches before it can be rented) and a growing group of outdoor parking space renters (with plenty of room for more). And it’s Spring – a time when people start deciding it’s time to get storage. Phone lines are open.

With all that in mind, I am happy to report I finished a complete re-design of the Ross Self Storage Web site just a few minutes ago. I did it myself (‘cuz I like doing these things) and am kinda happy with what I accomplished (though I realized I really need to get out there and shoot some better art for the site – those photos are awful).

Tomorrow begins another first for me: a Google AdWords campaign. I am using a $100 coupon I was sent from Google and thought I would give it a spin. The set-up was pretty interesting, a partial look under the advertising hood at Google. Those bite-sized ads provide the means for all the applications that Google provides – and I happily consume in mass quantities (I’m a bit of a Google fan boy). Though typically I would tell any consulting client a Google AdWords campaign is wholly unnecessary in most instances, I say this without actually ever having tried one. The coupon gives me a great opportunity to try the service without spending any cash. And I will get the added benefit of being able to speak from experience next time I tell someone it’s a waste of money.

Plus, the $100 is roughly equivalent to the amount I was going to spend in April on a newspaper ad in the Venice Cornerstone, the monthly local newspaper in Ross. This saves me from that – possibly – and also helps me bolster my argument that newspapers (and their Web sites) continue to miss the boat on a viable revenue model. I built a very un-savvy landing page, which, I think might be too overdone. My friend Krista Neher gave me one teensy bit of advice when I was thinking about my ad campaign earlier in the week: “Have a call to action.” I think I managed that OK. Call me, dammit, is my call to action. We’ll see.

I plan to report back here later on how the experience goes with Google. It should be interesting, to say the least. This is, after all and by many accounts, the future of advertising and the savior for us all (i.e. journalists who care about the content). Stay tuned…

New blog design: I need one

Ever since I moved Report This! to WordPress a couple years ago, my now-tired Minama Plus theme has served me well. But I envision this blog getting a makeover soon presumably through a new theme. There are several excellent ones out there (notice: not all are free), but which one and all the time involved in switching over is a pain.

Anyone have any suggestions for good themes? Also, locations on the Web for instructions on how to change a theme without going mad with frustation? Or better yet, is anyone even reading this? 🙂