Offering Value-Added Services to Tenants of Boat- and RV-Storage Facilities: Operators Cruise Past the Competition Via Amenities
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Terri and Ed Heil
Posted on: 08/03/2010



 

Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage of Arizona has been open nearly four years, enjoying continued growth despite a competitive market. An abundant array of add-on services is one reason the facility has been successful. Some were built in during the initial construction, but a good portion of them were added later.

This article highlights the amenities the business has implemented to encourage growth even in a difficult economy. The following strategies and offerings should be taken in consideration of your facility’s specific demographics and budget. What works for one boat/RV-storage site may not fit the tenant base or size of another. Some of the services suggested require upfront costs, but most of our victories have been inexpensive.
 
Coin-Operated Vehicle Wash

This can be a larger expense but will give you a market edge. The payback for this add-on service can take between eight and 10 years, but the convenience for customers is well worth it. Managers can use the wash bay as a customer-service outlet, offering tenants free washes as an incentive or reward, or even to pacify the occasional complaint. Occasionally, we run contests and surveys, offering three free washes to the winner.

If you have ample room, the addition of a wash bay can be an easy-to-construct project. Even an outside pad with conveniently placed hose bibs would be something tenants enjoy. A large percentage of our tenants bring their boats off the lake, wash them, and put them away clean.
 
Electricity

Our facility offers electrical outlets in the boat/RV-storage units, an amenity our competitors don’t have. The outlets are between 5 and 15 amps, depending on the size of the space. If the tenant exceeds the load, the fuse goes out. The monthly expense is minimal, and tenants really appreciate the convenience.
 
Bathrooms and Showers

Clean, aesthetically pleasing bath facilities are by far a favorite amenity among the boat/RV crowd. Not all facilities offer public bathrooms or showers. If you do, it’s important to keep them clean and updated. Tenants appreciate being able to come off the lake and take a shower before heading home.
 
Security

Quality security is a must.Our facility has more than 50 digital cameras linked to digital video recorders (DVR), as well as ample lighting at the entrance gate and along all driveways. Many customers come from out of state and don’t arrive until after dark on weekends. Extensive lighting allows tenants to access their property 24 hours a day and improves the quality of DVR recordings. The climate-control building, which offers air conditioning and heat, has additional security. The cost for this service is inexpensive and easily covered by a reasonable administrative charge.

We also run background and credit checks on all potential tenants. To date, the only customers we’ve lost had unsavory personal histories. We use software for these checks to simplify the task. We can adjust our requirements depending on the type of storage a tenant requires, and can set whatever parameters we need to allow tenants to rent without being a risk to our bottom line.
 
Around-the-Clock Access

Tenants are able to come and go as needed.Most of our competitors have limited access to their facilities. It’s important to understand your tenants’ needs. Not everyone can get to a facility before 6 p.m., which is when many facilities close.
 
Onsite Detail Service

This is a service any boat/RV-storage facility can offer, and this niche of tenants really appreciates it. We use a detailer who’s bonded and insured―and is also a paying tenant! It took us more than 10 interviews to find a reliable detailing business. It’s important to note we do not employ the detail service, just recommend it. We provide a drop box in our office that allows tenants to drop their keys off for the service. 
 
Air Station and Hose Bib

This is an easy amenity to install. Both boat- and RV-storage tenants use these fixtures on a regular basis. You may want to restrict the use of the hose bib for flushing engines or flushing holding tanks by using a short hose.
 
Dump Station

This cost is often more than some owners are willing to pay, but it can be a critical service for some facilities. It can also give you a competitive edge. Facilities can offer this free to all tenants, or add a small charge to offset the costs.
 
Ice and Vending Machines

This is another convenience for customers.You can sell ice for the same price as the nearby convenience store. If you don’t have a retail store on your property, ask a local company to install a coin-operated freezer. Most companies don’t charge for the freezer.

Likewise, even if you don’t have a retail store, you can offer outside vending machines for items such as water, soda, tea or sports drinks. They’re coin-operated and maintained by a vending-machine company. This is a low-cost service and a great extra for your tenants.
 
Cleaning Service

Storage units get dirty over time. Some customers request their units to be cleaned with a blower, an easy maintenance item. Most facilities don’t charge a fee for this service. Be sure to ask tenants to schedule this cleaning with the office staff. You can also offer unit power-washing, with or without a fee. Tenants love having these services, and they’re not difficult or costly to implement.
 
Retail

A retail store that provides basic boat and RV products is more of a convenience for your customers than a huge profit-maker, though the right marketing can make it worthwhile. Good items to stock include cleaning products, towels, RV chemicals for toilets and special RV toilet paper.
 
Dumpster

Allowing tenants to use your dumpster can be tricky. When our site first opened, all tenants had access. Unfortunately, a few naughty customers ruined it for the others. They dumped everything, including oil, tires and other undesirables. Now we only offer this service if someone asks, and we accompany them to the dumpster to see what they’re throwing away. Use caution when giving tenants access to your dumpster.
 
If your budget simply doesn’t allow any of the above suggestions, ask your tenants what amenities and services they would like. Perhaps there are other businesses in your community you can partner with to create new offerings. Visit boat- and RV-sales lots, RV resorts, and local repair shops and ask what amenities and services their customers want.

While you’re there, give them your business card. Talk about your referral program, and even bring along some pictures of your facility and its amenities. With a little homework and some creativity, you can implement new amenities and services that will meet your tenants’ needs and give you an edge over the competition.
 
Terri Heil is the business development manager and Ed Heil is the manager of operations and security at Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. They belong to the Arizona Self Storage Association and national Self Storage Association. For more information, call 928.764.1961; visit www.lakehavasustorage.com.

Related Articles:

Reaching and Serving Boat/RV-Storage Customers

Controlling the Maintenance Costs of Boat and RV Storage

Calculating Retail Profit: Add-On Merchandise Helps Boost Self-Storage Revenue

Self-Storage Talk: New Boat and RV Storage