Best Marketing Avenues
Like traditional self-storage, boat/RV storage can use multiple marketing strategies to attract tenants. One of the best tools is a facility website. Boat and RV owners are looking for a safe and attractive place to store their vehicles. Your website should convey that image. Broken links, outdated information and poor Web design will lead users to think your facility is as rundown as your website.
Instead, spend the money and take the time to develop an attractive site with a few colorful graphics of your facility and essential information such as unit sizes and amenities. Leverage your online presence through search-engine optimization (SEO), which involves the content of the site, its code and use of keywords. This is one area where you may want to seek an expert to ensure the best results.
Boat- and RV-storage operators can also greatly benefit from “missionary marketing,” says Tom Litton, president of Litton Property Management Inc., a third-party management company and consulting firm. These operators must actively recruit tenants. Outbound marketing efforts, though often more expensive to implement, tend to yield a much higher return on investment, Litton says, particularly because boat/RV-storage customers tend to rent for longer periods.
Operators should reach out to boat and RV dealerships, marinas, apartment communities, homeowner’s associations, chambers of commerce and similar outlets. “It’s also a good idea to solicit referrals from other storage facilities that do not offer this type of storage,” Litton says.
One of the best marketing sources to reach new customers is, in fact, your current tenants. “Boat and RV renters tend to tell other boat and RV renters about their storage choices,” Litton says. Create a referral system and promote it to existing tenants. For example, for every referral a tenant provides, offer him $50 off one month’s rent or $25 cash. You can also reward the referred customer with a discount or cash. If you have a competitor who doesn’t offer boat/RV storage, ask if he’ll refer those customers to your facility for cash or another incentive.
Customer service is a key to keeping tenants happy—and creating word of mouth. When tenants are on the property, take the time to acknowledge them. During the summer months, offer them cold bottled water. If you have it in the budget, add your logo and website on the bottle. In the winter, offer hot coffee, cocoa or tea to customers in paper cups, which can also be branded with your marketing message.
Consider partnering with a local boat/RV mechanic who can provide onsite services, or implement an onsite wash service. “I have one facility where we wash every boat and RV every month in the summer and every other month in the winter,” Litton says. “The reality is we simply spray off the dust and squeegee the windows. However, our tenants see this as the best customer service they’ve ever had. We get a tremendous amount of referrals from this one practice alone.”
An important component to all facility marketing is tracking your results. Ask new tenants how they heard about your facility. Then regularly review where your tenants come from and capitalize on those marketing programs. Marketing your boat and RV storage doesn’t always translate to a big budget. Nearly any marketing program can be modified to fit your budget and tenant demographics.