Serving Up Truck Rentals
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Kirk Nash|
|Posted on: 03/01/2001|
Serving Up Truck RentalsUsing this growing ancillary to become the competition
By Kirk Nash
If you talk to any entrepreneur in self-storage and ask him where he wants to see his business in the future, his answer will depend on his level of current success. If he is just starting out, he might say, "I want my business to grow and become the best and biggest it can be. I want to take it to the top." But if he's more established and doing well, he might say, "Business is good. I'm making money. I'd like to see more of the same." These are average answers from average people.
The insightful, creative, far-thinking 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 a worthy rival. And he knows that if he is to be considered "the competition," he must be doing a lot of things right. He must raise the standard with a quality product, his prices must be fair and, most important, his customer service must be complete, ongoing, fresh and acute. His business acumen tells him 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.
I don't know about you, but I want to become the competition.
The Other Pieces
Price: Doing Things the Easy Way
Your task is to replace those tenants that leave 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? Because it is the consensus that when shopping, customers are only concerned about price. Look at any facility in the storage industry, and it's almost a guarantee the facility with the cheapest rates will not be the facility with the highest occupancy.
If you are the entrepreneur who believes cheap rates are the key to higher occupancy, you are wrong. The only thing you are truly accomplishing is the undersale of your product and the depreciation of your business. You are compromising your storage facility for higher occupancy, and bringing the net worth of your business down. This will 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. Other facilities have large, color ads in the Yellow Pages to make potential customers aware of their presence. If you're already doing all of those things, is there still more you can do? There is if you strive to become the competition.
Yes, rental trucks. Are rental trucks the most important ancillary products 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 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 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.
Bill needed a truck to move his goods into the facility. If he leased space from ABC Storage, he could also rent his truck from the same place. If he leased space from XYZ Storage, he would have to go elsewhere to rent a truck. Where did Bill sign his lease? You guessed it--ABC Storage. Bill liked the idea of one-stop shopping, and ABC Storage had become the competition.
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. Become the competition.
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.
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 Nash is vice president and CEO of Boerne, Texas-based On the Move Inc. On the Move offers a rental-truck program to self-storage and other industries that includes trucks, insurance, rental forms, handtrucks and furniture pads. For more information, call 800.645.9949 or visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.