By Bill Meyers
Self-Storage continues to evolve into a total service approach, and as a result, customers are looking for facilities that can do it all. Consumers want to save time, and they appreciate the advantages and convenience of one-stop shopping. If you begin thinking of your facility’s office as a retail store, you will be on the road to creating the services your customer desires while improving your bottom line.
When your storage prospects visit your facility, their decision to rent with you can be based on their first impression upon entering the driveway or office. How is your curb appeal? Is the parking lot free of debris, and is the office clean? What kind of impression does your security make? Finally, what is the status of your retail offerings? Your customers know you rent storage space; but you might also offer rental trucks and equipment, boxes for storage or shipping, locks, and packing and moving supplies. Why not have them organized like a miniature retail store?
Think about what the average consumer experiences when he enters a department or discount store: He sees a sea of merchandise, categorized by department, also called a “planogram.” In most cases, the customer does not directly enter the area in which he needs to shop. Depending on the store, he may pass the “perfume snipers,” the shoe department, men’s or ladies’ apparel, or even the “shopping-cart corral.” This same concept will give your self-storage store an advantage you don’t want to lose.
Now you’re probably thinking, “This guy has no idea how little space I have for all this stuff!” On the contrary, I realize an average storage facility has limited retail space. However, a planogram approach can be your key to success as a storage merchandising professional. It is the best way for you to maximize the space you have available, and show customers your small-scale lock, packaging-supply and moving-and-storage departments.
By using a planogram, you create mini departments in which your customers can shop while in your office. An 8-by-6-foot floor or wall space can generate $12,000 to $24,000 annually. The same can be done with countertop displays or freestanding floor displays. Either method creates places for customers to browse.
For example, your lock department will show “good,” “better” and “best” choices customers can touch and see. In this way, you can help them decide on the quality of lock they need. If they intend to store with you, they’ll need to pack and move their goods to your facility.
Why not show them your moving and storage supplies department, which might include protection kits for fragile items; covers, tarps and storage bags to protect large items; and tie-down products to secure things in transit? And your box department will contain more than just boxes—it should also include tape, markers and labels.
Make your self-storage facility the neighborhood destination for moving, storage and shipping supplies. Your customers will tell their friends and neighbors where to go to purchase these items, and you’ll have people stopping in even if they don’t need to rent space. Think about it: You are close to home; you have fast, easy parking; and they will find it easy to shop with you because your planogram is organized into clearly defined departments. By making the shift from office manager to retail-store owner, you become better at selling your core product: storage space.
Bill Meyers is an account manager at Supply Side Inc., which distributes packaging as well as moving and storage supplies. The company has developed merchandising programs for many leading companies including Storage USA, the U.S. Postal Service, Kinko’s and Mail Boxes Etc. For more information, call 800.284.7357 or 216.738.1200; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.