Become the Competition: Why rental trucks make all the difference
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Kirk Nash|
|Posted on: 03/01/2001|
Become the CompetitionWhy rental trucks make all the difference
By Kirk Nash
Talk to any entrepreneur in the business. Ask them where they want their business to be in the future. Chances are their answer will depend on where they are currently. If it's a new business, they might say, "I want my business to grow, expand and become the best and biggest it can be. I want to take it to the top." If their business is established and doing well, they might say, "Business is good. I'm making money. I'm happy and content." These are average answers from average people.
The insightful, creative, far-thinking, concerned entrepreneur would answer this question in a much different way. His answer would be, "I want to become the competition." This person wants to be considered by all in his field as the competition. He knows that if he is considered to be the competition, he must be doing a lot of things right. His product must be quality, his prices must be fair and, most importantly, his customer service must be complete, ongoing, fresh and acute. His business acumen tells him that he must continue to do all the things that have helped get his business to the pinnacle and constantly offer innovative marketing and customer-service ideas and implementations.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A man comes to measure his greatness by the regrets, envies and hatreds of his competitors." I don't know about you, but I want to become the competition.
The Other Pieces
Price: Doing Things the Easy Way
Regardless of which category you might place yourself in, your key concern is increasing occupancy. This is a constant battle because people move out each and every month. Your task is to replace those leaving each month and add more. Now, many operators/managers choose to take the easy way out by discounting storage rates or offering a free month's rent. Why? Mainly because managers often think your customers are shopping and making their decisions based on price. Take any market in the storage industry and I assure you the facility with the cheapest rates will not be the facility with the highest occupancy.
If you are one of the owners who believe cheap rates are the key to higher occupancy, you are wrong. All you are accomplishing is the cheapening of your business. You are bringing the net worth of your business down. You are literally compromising your storage facility for higher occupancy. This can catch up with you. You must become more creative in your marketing and customer service. Remember: You want to become the competition.
Many facilities are built on major thoroughfares; they have a great location. Some facilities have a large, can't-miss sign and have established familiarity. Some facilities have large, color ads in the Yellow Pages to make potential customers aware of their presence. But, is there more that you can do? There is if you strive to become the competition.
Yes, rental trucks. Are rental trucks the number-one ancillary product in the storage industry? No, locks are. Rental trucks are the difference between you and the competition. Let's look at some of the major players in the self-storage industry. If you examine the top 10 to 20 self-storage operators in the country, you will find that nearly half of them offer rental trucks. The others will soon offer them. Why? Because that's how they attract their prospects. Most started in the storage business and added rental trucks. One started in the rental-truck business and added storage.
Pay attention to the people moving into your facility over the next month. What means of transportation are they using to move in? Trucks. Pay attention to people moving out of your facility over the next month. What means of transportation are they using? Trucks. Very few move in or out in anything other than a truck. U-Haul, Ryder, Budget, Penske, On the Move, cousin Bill's pick-up--they're all trucks. If you don't currently offer rental trucks, you will.
And, for those of you who have taken the easy way out by comping one month's rent, why not comp the rental truck? It is far less expensive to comp the truck than the space. When you appraise your business, it will show lost revenue from comped space, thus deteriorating your bottom line and, consequently, lowering your net worth. A comped rental truck will not show as a negative, but rather as credit on your balance sheet, because you have the rental of trucks to those moving out of your facility to make up for those giveaways to those moving in. So, if you insist on a giveaway, give the truck, not the space.
Newly Armed Staff
If the truck isn't being used on a given day, park it in a high-traffic area. Let local charities know the truck is available for their use free of charge. Let the high school use it to pull a float in the homecoming parade. Advertising your business on your truck will enhance the familiarity of your storage facility immensely. And for those of you who are truly sophisticated, you can market advertising to others on the sides of your truck--local realtors, title companies, restaurants and auto dealers are always looking for innovative ways to advertise their businesses. For a small monthly fee, you can advertise their business--in addition to your facility--on the side of your truck. You are now on your way to becoming the competition.
Rental trucks are the wave of the future in the self-storage industry. In another five to 10 years, you will be hard-pressed to find a storage facility without them. Zoning and architectural standards are becoming more and more stringent for self-storage facilities. The consumer is getting more sophisticated and demanding. Record storage, wine storage, cold storage, climate-controlled storage were, at one time, a rarity. Now they are commonplace. Your choice is to lead or follow. Self-storage customers are seeking one-stop shopping for their storage, packing and moving needs. Rental trucks can fulfill that need.
Doug Hunt, owner of Access Self Storage in Dallas, was talking to one of his competitors in the storage business not long ago. His competitor asked him how his rental trucks were working for him. Hunt responded, "I started with one truck more than three years ago and now have 20 trucks. It's working very well." Hunt comps his trucks to those moving in for a couple of hours, then charges an hourly rate thereafter. He is both serving his customers and making money.
Henshaw and Hunt have become the competition in their markets. They are on the leading edge of customer service. They know that a business either increases or decreases, and that businesses rarely stand still at zero growth.
If you have recently built or purchased a storage facility, expanded your existing facility or think your market is shrinking due to expansion by others in your area, it is time for you to consider adding rental trucks to your marketing and customer-service plan. Do this, and perhaps you, too, will become the competition.
Kirk W. Nash, together with Maury Westerdale, is co-founder of On The Move Inc., which was founded in 1991 to help supply rental trucks and insurance to the self-storage industry. The company has since branched out to cover the rental, apartment and realty industry. Mr. Nash serves as vice president and chief operating officer of On The Move. For more information call (800) 645-9949.