Attracting the Commercial Self-Storage Customer
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 04/26/2012



 

Last week, a new grocery store opened in my neighborhood. The grocer is new to the Arizona market, promising low prices in a warehouse setting minus the annual membership fees. This combined with watching the development’s progress for several months left me curious and excited. So of course I planned a visit on opening day. Turns out, so did everyone else within a 10-mile radius. There was a line just to get into the store!

While I was able to set my curiosity aside for another day—after all, the store is within walking distance—it occurred to me that this was the first major opening of any type of retail store in my area in several years.

And it’s not the only commercial building in my neighborhood seeing some action. Two empty restaurants across from the new grocer are also showing signs of activity. One is fenced off with a “coming soon” sign out front. The other has had a flood of remodelers in and out over the past couple of weeks.

It seems the long-promised economic recovery is taking some baby steps. And while we’re by no means out of the woods, seeing new retailers open their doors is a positive sign.

For self-storage operators, it could mean an uptick in commercial business in the coming months as companies begin looking for a place to store their products or equipment. The commercial storage customer is really a different kind of tenant for storage operators. They typically frequent the facility more often so they’re looking for a broader range of facility hours and easy access. In addition, many commercial tenants prefer to pay their rent online and usually need a receipt for tax purposes.

If you’ve shied from targeting commercial tenants, particularly in the last few years as many businesses went belly up, now may be the time to reconsider. While the commercial sector has struggled to obtain financing, that’s changing as banks are beginning to once again provide funding.  This means more entrepreneurs will open new businesses, while existing ones will reconsider their expansion plans.

Much like attracting residential customers, you’ll need a solid marketing plan to lure business owners as well. Are they any new business opening up in your market? Are there any existing business that seem crowded or look like they may be expanding? Now’s the time to make some connections. Arm yourself with facility brochures and visit these businesses. Offer them a discount on the first month, or some other incentive to get them through your door.

Perhaps your facility offers something businesses needs, such as wine or records storage. Do you have large units in which a business can park an oversized vehicle or store equipment?

Or perhaps you have business services such as a conference room, small offices with an Internet connection, packing and shipping services, mailboxes, or other similar operations. These are all things that attract small-business owners who are looking to streamline operations at the lowest cost possible.

To see how other operators are attracting commercial tenants or share your story, post a comment below or visit this Self-Storage Talk thread.