Tips for Broadening Your Profit Horizon: Self-Storage Talk Members Share Secrets of Add-On Sales

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By John Carlisle

Even though renting space is the core of the self-storage business, operators are always looking for ways to enhance their revenue through additional product and service offerings. Because self-storage is closely tied to moving, packing and shipping, certain retail items such as boxes or packing materials are logical items to sell in a facility office. Likewise, partnering with a provider to sell tenant insurance can also net extra income for the business.

But one the best ways to brainstorm ideas for ancillary products and services is to talk it over with industry peers, which is exactly what people have been doing on Self-Storage Talk (SST), the industry’s largest online community.

On the SST discussion threads “Top-Selling Side Product,” “Which Add-On Product Is Most Effective at Your Facility?” and “Which Add-On Profit Center Generates the Most Revenue?,” members have bandied around several ideas, sharing what sells and what doesn’t. Respondents have also weighed in on multiple polls to give their take on the issues.

In an Inside Self-Storage online poll conducted in August, 44 percent said locks were their best-selling retail item, an unsurprising result. Thirty-two percent cited boxes and crates as their best-selling add-on, while moving kits garnered 8 percent and tape/adhesive snagged only 2 percent. In a similar SST poll, the results varied slightly (50 percent and 38 percent), but locks and boxes were still No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, with nothing else gaining notable attention. The reason locks are top of mind? Possibly because they’re the only retail item some facilities have onsite to sell.

“Apart from locks, we don't sell much of anything else,” writes SST member DeeStorageUK, who works at a facility in Rochdale, England, near Manchester. “Apart from making a point of asking customers if they need any of the products, what else do people do to get those sales up?” she asks. It’s a great question. Just how can managers upsell, and what sort of items are logical suggestions?

Member and moderator Bob Taylor, also known as astro, manages a facility in Cashiers, N.C. He shared these strategies: “Tell everyone you talk to on the phone and who walks in your store that you sell boxes and other packing supplies. Be absolutely sure to [tell this to] everyone who rents a space.

“Have bundles of boxes and packing supplies at a discounted price on display in your office. Example: several small boxes, a few medium, a couple of large, tape, bubble wrap. Tie a ribbon around this bundle and offer it at, say, 10 percent off of retail, and promote the dickens out of it.

Do you have a reader board out front? Can you get one of those inflatable box displays to put on your lawn? Can you advertise in your local paper? If so, promote boxes and other packing supplies.”

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