The Price Is Right, Right?
Sometimes, what a group doesn’t talk about can be significant. On the forum thread, there was very little mention of retail prices, for instance, and that’s a good sign.
It wasn’t long ago many managers swore they couldn’t sell boxes unless they had the lowest prices in town. They believed shoppers knew what a moving box should cost and wouldn’t pay a dime more. Guess what? Some self-storage operators conducted in-store tests and proved customers would pay a dime—even a quarter—more, and sales volume remained unchanged. Moreover, reducing prices below the lowest in town didn’t increase sales.
The bottom line is retail-savvy managers have learned two important lessons:
- Customers will pay for convenience. You saved them another trip―charge for it.
- Customers seldom buy boxes. If a price seems reasonable, it is.
Competing With Big-Box Stores
Overall, if the forum group is representative of managers in our industry, we should be optimistic that self-storage will continue to increase its retail presence. Some operators worry that huge retail chains will steal their retail-packaging sales. The bad news is chains could eventually teach the public that they stock inexpensive boxes.
The good news is consumers buy boxes so rarely, it will take them a while to overcome their own indifference on the subject. In the meantime, there are a few things managers can do to combat big-box stores:
- Use attention-getting interior and exterior signage. Your supplier should have it.
- Get listed in the Yellow Pages under “boxes” and “moving supplies.”
- Write simple “Tips on How to Pack” stories for your local papers. Mention that you can supply materials and advice.
Finally, good self-storage managers are known for their personal selling skills. Learn everything you can about your retail products and become your area’s moving supplies expert.
Rob Kaminski is vice president and general manager of Supply Source One, a division of Schwarz Supply Source, which has been a national retail supplier for more than 100 years. With warehouses across the country, the company offers the self-storage industry a complete selection of retail products as well as office, maintenance and janitorial supplies. For more information, visit www.supplysourceone.com.