Shopping Destination!

Creating a competitive edge in todays self-storage environment is extremely important. Set yourself apart with a mix of retail products and services to meet your markets special demands.

Begin by conducting thorough due diligence. The process isnt unlike the one used in determining a self-storage location. Heres what youll need to ask:

  • How competitive is the market in terms of offering retail products and services?
  • How will this affect your retail sales?
  • Do you want to offer retail products and services as a tenant convenience and to help rent units, or do you want a viable profit center?
  • What are the demographics in terms of population, average household income, housing growth, disposable income, etc.?

All of the above have an impact on how profitable retail sales will be in your market.

The One-Stop Advantage

If your primary goal is to provide an added convenience for tenants, find out what the competition offers. Is there anything else you can provide? If you fill an overlooked niche for consumers, you will certainly attract attention.

Many facilities offer retail products and services but never market them to customers. Is this true of your competition? If so, make the most of this by advertising and letting people know exactly how theyll benefit from your offerings.

The first advantage for customers is convenience: Youll take care of all their moving needs in one locationrenting a storage unit and moving truck, purchasing boxes, locks and moving supplies. Play up the fact they dont have to run all over town for satisfaction.

Our society favors one-stop-shopping convenience and many will pay a little more for the privilege. The No. 1 reason someone chooses a specific self-storage location is convenience. The second most important reason is perceived trust. Put convenience and trust together, and you offer a tremendous value to customers.

The Marketing Message

Once you decide what products and services to offer, youll need to market them. In every sales presentation, make sure you mention the benefits of your retail offerings and how youre different from the competition. If people are pleased with what they hear, it may sway their decision to rent from you.

In fact, prospects will drive farther to rent storage if they like the person giving the sales pitch. A good retail mix matched with excellent customer service conveys the message that your site is truly a full-service operation.

Dont forget to list your moving products and services in your advertising: Yellow Pages, brochures, direct mailings, press releases and any other forms of promotional materials. This reinforces the message and keeps it in front of customers.

Your blurb about moving boxes may bring in customers whoonce inside your one-stop shoprealize they also need packing tape, labels and a storage unit. Even if they dont rent now, theyll remember the great service received and think of you for future rental needs. Plus, if customers have a great experience theyll tell friends and family how wonderful you are.

To combat the competition you must find creative ways to differentiate your operation. A terrific solution is a thoughtfully marketed retail mix and excellent customer service. 

Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training for the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos and a workbook titled Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program, designed to help managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. He most recently launched A TelePro, a mystery shopping service for educating, evaluating and improving the phone-sales performance of self-storage professionals. For more information, call 513.229.0400; visit

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