By Ray Fisher
To resolve the question of whether or not to offer add-on services, the self-storage owner should focus on his purpose of business, his manager's time and the rental office.
Owners need to define their purpose of business. Are they going to provide an office with a manager that can provide on-going customer service, or are they going to provide an office with a mini-mall of add-on services?
Add-on services that are not directly related to renting units--such as packaging and sending boxes, truck rental, mailbox rental, etc.--only benefit the entrepreneurs that sell the add-on services or products, not the owner of the facility. With the failure rate of add-on services, established by themselves as a business, the astute self-storage owner will easily recognize the detriment it would be to his business. The time and effort invested in the add-on services only hinders the potential income of the self-storage facility's primary business--renting units.
Consider how the add-on services would affect the manager and the office, in general. The manager is the most important asset of any facility. A manager is, or should be, fully occupied with ensuring the success of the facility--through proper management of the office, marketing and maintenance--without adding other services. Most add-on services distract the manager from other duties and lessen his effectiveness in completing them.
The office should be inviting and pleasant to managers and tenants, as well as prospective customers. For the office to be filled with all the bells and whistles of add-on services only reduces the main objective of the business.
On the other hand, items such as locks, boxes and tape are important specifically to the business of moving and storing belongings and, therefore, should be kept in the office. These can be compactly displayed and easily marketed during the rental process. Anything else beyond this infringes on the manager's duties of running the facility and sacrifices a neat office appearance.
Finally, it is recommended that the owner and manager discuss the pros and cons of add-on services to determine which will actually benefit the facility and which services deter the manager from more important activities. The objective is to discover which services and/or products optimize the manager's time and maximize the profits of the self-storage business.
Ray Fisher is resident manager of Keylock Mini Storage of Pinellas Park, Fla. In addition, he is actively involved in manager training and technical support for Accountable Management of Lutz, Fla. Mr. Fischer may be reached at (813) 526-1800; e-mail: Keylockmin@aol.com.