What you should know about us...

We're loaded with credentials

The Heron Group

From chairing the SSA, to teaching industry courses, to publishing dozens of advice pieces, we're well regarded throughout the self storage industry.

Our goal is to increase your facility's bottom line.

What you should know about us...

We like to keep our client pool small

The Heron Group

The big picture and the little details are equally important to great third party management. So we limit the number of storage properties we'll represent.

Our goal is to increase your facility's bottom line.

What you should know about us...

We've been at this for 35 years

The Heron Group

Your investment in a professional, experienced management group like ours will drive an improved outlook for your company.

Our goal is to increase your facility's bottom line.

What you should know about us...

We're a storehouse of knowledge

The Heron Group

We understand what it takes to achieve superior results in any market and how to turn those results into tangible and sustainable benefits.

Our goal is to increase your facility's bottom line.

Our People

At the helm of The Heron Group is Robert Francis. He has spent 20 years of his 35-year property management career amassing successes in the self storage industry.

Bob holds the designation of a Certified Property Manager from the Institute of Real Estate Management. He is a Florida-licensed Real Estate Broker, served as Chair of the Self Storage Association in 2008 and is an instructor in the Self Storage Association’s MCC program and a frequent contributor to industry publications and periodicals—he has been published dozens of times.

Bob is one of the more active educators in self storage and has taught classes all over the country. He specializes in teaching underwriting courses and is a member of the senior education staff for the SSA. He was also one of the original developers of the self storage investor course. He headed the annual FOCUS expenses reports for five years.

As the well-regarded skipper of The Heron Group, Bob educates, supervises, and/or networks with dozens of consultants, vendors and staff who assist him in improving clients’ bottom lines.

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About Us

Self storage may seem like a simple business model, but there are a lot of nuances. The same goes for third-party management. So if you’re shopping for a management company, we suggest you take the time to do your homework and interview a number of companies. That’s because we’re confident it will lead you back to The Heron Group—and the partnership that will make you a winner in the trade.

We don’t just manage others’ properties. We own and operate our own facilities. Thus we understand the business from the owner’s perspective. You need flexibility and timely communication from your consulting firm, because your facility has unique challenges. Sure, we’re experts and we understand the rhythm of micro-markets. But we also pride ourselves on being approachable and focusing the right amount of attention on each client. In fact, we intentionally limit our services to ten or twelve exclusive clients, so as to allow ourselves that focus. We’re confident that we can help you increase your returns to a level that most individual investors couldn’t accomplish alone.

We offer a wide variety of services geared to your exact needs. An efficient operation is the end goal.

  • Feasibility and professional market assessments
  • Site plan, unit mix and layout reviews
  • Site and property acquisition services
  • Economic performance reviews
  • Independent site audits or property reviews
  • Selection, training and supervision of on-site staff
  • Operational reviews of a site, an area or company
  • Mystery telephone or walk-in shopping services
  • Full property management services
  • Company, regional or on-site, training and seminars that generate real results

Our services span North America. We’re based in the warm, friendly climate of the southeastern U.S. and thus named the company for the majestic bird roosting nearby in our Florida wetlands. The Heron Group was founded by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who has dedicated his career to the self storage industry for more than 20 years.

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Self Storage know-how worth bragging about

At The Heron Group, we understand that each market, neighborhood, and property is different. Our third party management group can customize an efficient, profitable plan that will enhance your self storage facility’s bottom line. Through continual evaluation and training, we provide the guidance that will allow your facility to perform at peak efficiency.

Builds, buys & improvements

This is where The Heron Group really excels beyond competing management solutions. With 35 years of proven real estate experience, we understand what it takes to achieve superior results in self storage, and how to turn those results into tangible and sustainable benefits. In fact, we’re such an esteemed repository of data that financiers come to us for information about industry trends.

For example, we recognize that in the current landscape, occupying existing locations is a better bet than building. Recent years have changed the way we value things, and thanks to a struggling economy, a lot of owners and operators are under stress. We can help alleviate that stress.

Our services range from feasibility studies to investments to exit strategies. When you’re ready to consider building your first facility, buying another facility, or selling a facility, we are here to walk you through the process successfully. Our studies and reviews are easily converted into a real estate and/or management plan that allows you to take charge and achieve profitability in the shortest possible time.

Here are some of the issues we can help you understand and evaluate:

  • Competitive landscape
  • Market size and potential demand in the surround communities
  • Demographic trends in the market area
  • Find the right investors, brokers, underwriting on acquisition
  • Marketing and property management challenges
  • Probability of meeting investment objectives
  • Unit amenities worth considering (Climate control, security, etc)
  • Unit mix (Sizes, covered vehicle space, etc)
  • Building within projected cost
  • Facility condition, appearance, curb appeal
  • Control or reduce facility expenses, e.g. through bulk purchase
  • Real estate tax process and estate planning


Staffing & training

The self storage market is pretty challenging these days—and it doesn’t look like it will get easier any time soon. With consumers unaware of the diversity among facilities, the difference between a thriving business and a floundering one is largely in the hands of the person behind the counter.

  • Personnel selection, evaluation, drug testing, credit checks
  • Open lines of communication
  • Facility policies and procedures
  • Customer service and follow-up
  • Phone skills
  • Incentives
  • Renting and vacating units
  • Understanding the rental agreement and legalities
  • Reporting
  • Collections
  • Site maintenance
  • Technology training (management software, gates, kiosks, etc)
  • Web-based marketing systems and analytics
  • Security
  • Ongoing analysis (e.g. secret shopping) and updates


Finances, technology & reporting

Our biggest priority in third-party self storage management is improving your bottom line. Your revenues, expenses and return on investment should be in line with your expectations as well as with top players in the market. To those ends, we facilitate a comprehensive business plan for increasing revenue and decreasing expenses where possible and appropriate at your site.

That plan is important, but what’s even more important is implementation, tracking and reporting. Our proven track record, attention to detail, and strong relationships in the self storage industry (see “Our People”) all serve to support business setup and performance.

We also understand today’s technology. Our awareness of everything that’s available on the market today – as well as the pros and cons of integration – help us to determine effective and efficient ways to manage self storage operations with technological support. We don’t implement technology for technology’s sake—there has to be perceived benefit to your wallet.

The Heron Group covers the full spectrum of strategies needed to boost a bottom line including finance and operations:

  • Site inspections and audits
  • Employee supervision
  • Service and repair negotiations
  • Collections
  • Tracking and reporting
  • Realistic projections
  • Annual budgeting
  • Rate, fee and expense management
  • Bookkeeping


Marketing & merchandising

Operators today face intense competition, increasing expenses and shifting consumer demand. That’s why marketing is more important than ever to the self storage business. Unfortunately, marketing itself is growing more complicated, thanks to the burgeoning popularity of the web for everything from shopping to socializing. And the web never stops changing. Just trying to keep up with trends is tough.

The good news: Our group is known for more than real estate sense and operations acumen. When it comes to marketing, we’re pretty savvy. As third-party managers, we assist in facility marketing and promotion (both traditional and digital)—from fund allocation to strategies for capturing renters

We address topics such as the importance of tracking marketing efforts, converting leads to customers, using social media, direct email campaigns, print and online directories, localized tactics, even hosting community events. In one notable case, we drove a client’s site to 80,000 web visits per month! pharmacy online

We facilitate the full meal deal of marketing, merchandising, and uncovering hidden profit centers:

  • Budget management
  • Strategic alliances with area businesses
  • Referral programs
  • Website development and maintenance
  • Search marketing and optimization
  • Web marketing and directories
  • Results tracking and analysis
  • Determining late fees
  • Selling ancillary merchandise
  • Administrative fees
  • Discounts and specials to avoid losses
  • Print and sign design
  • Referral programs