A Tale of Two Realities in the Boat/RV-Storage Building Market: Misconceptions vs. Actuality for This Potentially Profitable Niche

L. Bruce McCardle and Caesar Wright Comments
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Everything Before Us—Within Our Budget

Yes, building now is indeed a risk, so building smarter is crucial. Obviously the numbers have to be just right to make a project work. But you can’t lose site of your goal, which is to build a quality facility, within a set budget, that will someday pay for itself and have adequate cash flow. Sound simple? Well, we see a lot of people lose site of this goal and build monuments instead of functional and profitable facilities.

Before you invest money into all the bells and whistles, ask yourself, “If I spend additional money on X, will I get it back by Y?” If it adds value to your project, marketability to potential customers, and saves money over the life of the project, then spend the money. The most important factor is to put your money where the rent is. Will a customer pay more for a unit than for one down the street because of some service or amenity?

Ted Dietz, developer of Eucalyptus at Beaumont, an upscale boat/RV-storage facility in California, discovered through research and online polling that having a dump station at a boat/RV-storage facility is low on the list of priorities for most vehicle owners. The majority of them don’t want to make the return trip home with the additional weight—or with the mess and smell—so they dump waste before they leave, lock the door and stay out of the bathroom.

Dietz’s research also found the first priority for the majority of boat and RV owners is to have wider drive isles. A wash bay is also considered an added amenity they like. Other profitable add-ons include an onsite mechanic and well-stocked retail area to supply boat/RV essentials. But before adding too many amenities or services, you must first consider the costs and whether these will benefit your proposed project.
 
The Season of Light

Just as with any other successful business, you have to be creative and work hard to win customers. The days of whatever you build immediately renting to capacity and spitting out cash are gone for now. Storage is still a low-maintenance and low-overhead business, but nonetheless takes savvy and effort to make it a profitable investment. When you run the numbers and see the returns, you’ll find it’s still a wise investment.
 
Recalled to Life

So get off of the farm and pick the real of the two cities. It would appear most developers are willing to hide in the suburbs until someone else takes the risk and starts the ball rolling. Entrepreneurs don’t wait for things to turn around, they turn things around. They don’t stand around waiting for someone to bail them out; they bail themselves out, time and again. They take the big risks, but also get the big rewards. What are you waiting for?  
 
L. Bruce McCardle is vice president of eastern division operations for Mako Steel Inc. Caesar Wright is president. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Mako designs, supplies and installs steel buildings for the self-storage industry, including boat/RV storage, multi-story and custom buildings. For more information, call 800.383.4932; visit www.makosteel.com.

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The Challenge of Financing a Boat/RV-Storage Operation: Understanding Demand Generators and Today's Lending Parameters

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