Today, we interview Mr. Tokuo Yoshida, Executive Director of the Rental Storage Association of Japan (RSA). He talks about recent trends, new businesses, and what is needed for the industry’s growth.
Q1. We have learned about Japan’s self-storage industry’s rapid growth from the previous interview with Yasuo from Quraz. What are your observations regarding new entrants into the Japanese self-storage industry?
A1. We are in a growth period with many new companies entering the market. Before, the market was dominated by building owners that recognized an opportunity to convert an empty space into revenue by turning it into a trunk room. Now the trend is for large real-estate and urban development companies to enter the market. The real estate business aspect attracts them.
There are also many collaboration efforts using under-utilized spaces in the laundromat, convenience store, and temporary office space industries. Additionally, there are signs of growth in the valet trunk room market.
Q2. With the Coronavirus spread, has your organization identified any new trends in the self-storage industry?
A2. Between the April and June industry surveys of our members, we detected a slight decrease in inquiries for new service. Otherwise, the storage business is very stable and has not yet been impacted by the pandemic. We will continue to monitor the survey results closely.
One thing that this pandemic has shown is the need to modernize our business to leverage technology. This means using the Internet for communications both with customers and within the company, and increasing remote management of facilities. We foresee an increase in companies implementing new systems to evolve their business.
Q3. Under the current situation, it is hard to set up physical gatherings to network and exchange information. Does RSA have a recommendation to overcome this?
A3. Due to social distancing and restrictions on physical gatherings, we plan to hold a web forum later this year. We will also continue to have regular promotions with our suppliers and are open to additional webinar requests.
Our RSA website’s news section will provide times and links to these events. In addition to our website’s news section, we are also using SNS networks like (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc..) to pass information. Please feel free to contact us via any of these methods for requests and questions.
Q4. You have been part of our industry for a long time. What do you think was the most challenging thing to overcome? What do you believe is now the most challenging issue?
A4. Twenty years ago, the trunk room business was not highly thought of in Japan. It took a while, but in the last ten years, the public has come to accept the idea of self-storage. Because of their acceptance, the number of stores has increased. This was the hardest challenge for our industry to overcome.
Now, the biggest challenge is to collaborate with overseas organizations. We already work well with the Self-Storage Association Asia (SSAA), and this year we are establishing a relationship with the Federation of European Self-Storage Associations (FEDESSA).
Q5. What do you think would be the next big thing in the self-storage industry?
A5. A primary concern during the pandemic, for our members, will be to keep their businesses going. That includes modernizing infrastructure and revamping the fee structure to work with the new norms.
This leads to companies creating a transparent pricing system, unifying the size chart, and adding better services to transform from rental business to a service business. Most companies have focused only on renting rooms, but we will need to build a reliable service model in the future.
The industry will seek investment in facilities to grow into larger businesses. Several companies have already begun this development process, which is already happening in the United States and Europe.
Unwired Logic K.K. is a member of the Rental Storage Association of Japan (RSA) promotion council. More information about the RSA can be found at the following URL: https://www.rentalspace.org/english/