In addition to renting self-storage space, we need to learn how to sell moving and storage supplies, such as locks, boxes and tape. There are additional retail sales opportunities all around us. We must recognize this is a competitive environment, and to compete we must think as they do about scalability, salability and availability. Expensive retail locations dictate that we find additional revenue sources such as pack and ship, records storage, local and cross-country moving, online auctions and mobile storage.
We must learn that strategic alliances, revenue-sharing and brokering can be profit-generating and can drive traffic to our stores, giving us an opportunity to prove that we have secure selling skills and can rent space to all those who enter our stores.
We must begin to look beyond the 5-by-10 and 10-by-10 spaces and recognize that, although it was our core source of income, we are no longer living in the ’70s. We must look for new retail opportunities that will generate the kind of traffic we so highly covet. To drive residential consumers to our front doors, we need to consider new product and service offerings, such as carpet shampooers and propane exchange tanks.
The Commercial Consumer
To attract the commercial user, perhaps the most desirable of all guests, we need to further understand their business needs. In the ’70s, we stored their old desks and computers, tattered and torn business record boxes, leftover inventory and last year’s store displays and merchandising fixtures. We must now think about integrating new services into our self-storage locations that will bring these valued customers through our doors.
What if self-storage operators positioned themselves in the market to securely store backup tapes from customers’ PCs? How about shredding documents, complete with certificates of destruction, or converting hard copy files and records to digital images that can be stored on virtual servers? There are a host of products and services—sold largely through the Internet—that require little time and energy on the part of our managers other than fostering client relationships and using a consultative sales approach to solve problems for business customers.
These programs can be offered with low capital investment by the self-storage operator, and will require little space for execution. A minimal amount of training will be required, but can also be found online.