Spring Surprise for U.K. Self-Storage

Andrew Donaldson Comments
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This spring, we’ll all be running round like mad March hares. For those of us in self-storage, our fill rates should be only going one way—upward. So cheer up and think about new marketing initiatives to make the most of the seasonal uplift in the home moving sector. March through September is the time to make hay while the sun shines.

There is no doubt self-storage is a seasonal business, especially when it comes to the monthly fill rate for an immature facility. The more domestic customers you have, the more seasonal your fill rate will probably be.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to make your annual target, you need 12 months worth of fill in the nine months of spring, summer and autumn. I’d say more than half of all facilities in the United Kingdom suffer from winter blight. There are also those who manage to not only limit the damage, but to find or create opportunity in the late autumn and early spring, which carries them through the bleak winter.

Opportunity is one of my favorite words, and life is full of it. To find an opportunity for the cold winter and holiday season, think of what this time brings. The big autumn push should be completely focused on Christmas. Why? Because everybody buys loads of stuff during the holidays. From whom do they buy it? Retailers. What’s a retailer’s most expensive overhead? Space.

Let’s face it, if a retailer has a stock room in his expensive retail square footage, it isn’t going to be large. So while it may be full 10 months of the year, for two months, it isn’t big enough. That’s where your winter-blight marketing strategy comes in.

Early to mid-autumn is domestic move-out season. Tenants leave in droves, and this retail-focused strategy is designed to combat that domestic fallout. An effective, focused marketing strategy delivered to local holiday-driven retailers is an investment in time worth making. It’s a cheap marketing tool and easy to implement. Just get out of your cozy office and knock on the door of every retailer in your local vicinity and tell him how he can make more money—by buying in bulk and meeting demand, thanks to a local, short-term storage unit. Hey, I believe it and can sell it, why can’t you?

Believe me, it works. This no-cost promotion can more than offset your domestic fallout and keep your fill-rate moving upward through October and November, and carry you through December—but only if you’re clever. If you suffered from negative fill late last year, you’ve got no excuse not to try my suggestion. If it works and our paths ever cross, you can buy me a beer!

It is time to take stock of last year and implement plans for the new. Every year, and every season, is a new chance to market self-storage. All you have to see is the bigger picture and turn it into an opportunity. We will all soon be Mad March Hares, so make the most of the available market while the sun shines and your facility fills.

Andrew Donaldson is the founder and chief executive of Active Supply & Design (CMD) Ltd. of Cheshire, England. He is also the founder of the Self Storage Sentinel newsletter, Rent-A-Space Limited (now a multi-site operator) and selfstorage.uk.net. For more information, e-mail andrew@askactive.com; visit www.askactive.com.

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