Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for Operators of Boat- and RV-Storage Facilities
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Ed and Terri Heil
Posted on: 08/09/2010


Although our boat- and RV-storage facility is in a resort town—with 85 percent of its tenants residing up to 2,800 miles away—an active and inspired marketing still plays a critical role in its success. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. Here are some low-cost ideas for attracting new tenants and showing appreciation to your current ones. These strategies can easily be modified to fit your budget and tenant demographics.

Seek Marketing Partners

Trading services with other businesses in your community can be a huge benefit for your facility. Look for a business that needs storage and will offer some return for you, such as a local magazine or newspaper in which you can advertise. Perhaps you can find a maintenance company and trade a unit for its services. You can also work with boat or RV dealerships to cross link your website with theirs. This will help your facility increase its online presence.

You can also offer discounts to businesses that complement your facility in exchange for referrals. Is there an RV park or marina close to your site? Offer them a discount on a rental unit or use of the wash bay, if you have one. This will encourage them to send customers your way when need arises.

The chamber of commerce can also be an excellent source of referrals. Visitors will often turn to the chamber when looking for services in a new town. The chamber also hosts community events or monthly mixers. Ask if you can be an event sponsor or even host a mixer at your facility.

Have a Solid Referral Program

Most storage-facility operators would agree referral programs are one of the best marketing strategies. The cost to create referral cards or fliers is very low, and can usually be done in-house. The goal is to get people to refer business to your facility, so there must be an incentive.

Consider offering a $20 gift card to anyone who refers a new customer to your facility. If a tenant refers someone, offer him $20 off his next month’s rent. Create fliers you can hand to tenants whenever they stop by the office. Post one by the vending machine or near retail items—any place where tenants will see them.

You can also market your referral program by meeting face-to-face with local business owners. Take a couple of brochures and business cards with you, and tell them about your referral program. The only real cost is gas and time.

Onsite Marketing

There are also a number of low- or no-cost marketing approaches you can use on site:

Baked goods and other treats. It may sound silly, but the smell of freshly baked cookies can be an enticement. Tenants love the gesture, and the cost is minimal. Of course, cookies aren’t the primary reason tenants rent with you, but they do make a memorable impression. Also consider having a candy bowl in the front office. You can even have a separate bowl for sugar-free treats.

Make a great impression with Mom and Dad by handing out small gifts to children. Consider coloring books, Frisbees or other low-cost items. Always ask the parents before mentioning the gift.

Cold bottled water. With your facility logo or without, bottled water is a great customer-service piece. You can offer them to prospective tenants, or pass them out to current ones on a hot day. It also gives you a chance to see what tenants are storing without appearing intrusive. 

Onsite tools. Some facilities keep a few basic tools in the office to loan to tenants in case of an emergency. A battery charger, screwdriver and other tools are a minimal expense and a great convenience to your tenants. Be sure to write your facility name in bold letters with permanent marker. If you have to frequently replace these items, it can become costly.

Regardless of which marketing programs you implement, the most important factor is to track your results. Always ask prospective tenants, “How did you find out about us?” If you don’t ask, you won’t know which marketing strategies are working—and which are failing. If your management software doesn’t allow you to aggregate this information, record it on a spread sheet. Regularly review what’s working and capitalize on those marketing programs to draw tenants and increase your facility’s revenue.

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.

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Online Marketing Strategies for Boat/RV- and Mobile-Storage Businesses: Operators Generate More Leads With a Quality Website

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