Bolstered in part by its new online rental platform and new mobile app, Public Storage is seeing a surge in brand-new customers.

During the self-storage REIT’s second-quarter earnings call Aug. 4, President and CEO Joe Russell said his company is experiencing “a meaningful wave” of first-time renters.

“In 2021, we have welcomed nearly 700,000 new customers to our platform, many having never used self-storage before,” Russell told Wall Street analysts.

More ways to rent

Nearly half of customers now use the REIT’s self-service online eRental platform to rent units, Russell said. Glendale, CA-based Public Storage rolled out the platform after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s fast, intuitive and simple,” he said.

Earlier this year, Public Storage supplemented the eRental platform with a new mobile app that enables tenants to manage their accounts — including rent payments — on their smartphones. It also enables renters to digitally access their storage units.

“The goal with the app is to improve the customer’s all-around experience,” Kathleen Jarnagin, a company vice president, said in January. “Now they don’t have to worry about going into the office.”

Other highlights of Public Storage’s second-quarter earnings include:

  • The company plans to close 2021 with $3.1 billion in acquisitions. Most of that total comes from the recent $1.8 billion purchase of the 48-facility ezStorage portfolio.
  • The REIT’s third-party management program now exceeds 130 facilities. The program aims to reach 500 third-party facilities by 2025.
  • Same-store revenue rose 10.8% compared with the same time last year. For all of 2021, Public Storage predicts same-store revenue growth of 7% to 8.5%.
  • Same-store NOI soared 21.7% compared with the same time last year. The REIT expects same-store NOI growth of 9.4% to 11.9% for the entire year.
  • Same-store operating costs plummeted 15.9% compared with the same time last year. For the full year, Public Storage projects same-store operating costs will increase as much as 1%.
  • The REIT ended the quarter with an occupancy rate of 97%, up from 94.2% at the same time last year.
John Egan