By Rob Kaminski
If you don’t believe you can improve retail sales and services at your self-storage facility, think again. If you’ve done all you can to maximize unit rentals, then you’re ready to apply those sales skills and expand the impact retail has on your business. Take a fresh look at your retail sales with these concepts that have been market-tested by self-storage professionals over the past 20 years.
1. Low, Low Pricing Is Not the Answer or Even the Question
Some operators think they can’t compete against the retail prices at big-box or home-improvement stores. Those who lower their prices to improve sales find it rarely works, for two reasons. First, they usually turn to obviously cheaper products that don’t get purchased, and second, they give their employees (and maybe themselves) an excuse for not trying to sell retail.
Your business is storage rentals. You offer locks, boxes, tape and so on as a convenience to your customers. Convenience stores prosper not because they have the lowest prices but because convenience has value. How many of your rental customers would go out of their way just to save a couple of bucks on a disc lock? For that matter, how many even know what a lock or box or roll of bubble wrap costs? The takeaway here is if you sell good products at good prices, you’ll have great sales.
2. Sell Packages, Not Just Packaging
Most consumers have little experience at packing and moving. Left to choose what boxes, tape and cushioning they’ll need, they usually get it wrong. When this occurs, they’ll be unhappy, and you’ll miss out on making a better sale and a new friend.
Offer packing “kits” for one, two or more rooms. The kits should exist only on charts that suggest a balanced mix of packaging for a kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. The suggestions make decisions easier for customers and your managers. You could even offer a discounted kit price as an added enticement for renting a unit. Box-bundle discounts work, too. Your supplier should have the information and sometimes even the printed materials you’ll need.
3. Show-and-Tell Retailing
Many of your customers have probably never used wardrobe boxes or stretch wrap, and your managers may or may not be able to explain their function—that’s if customers even ask for assistance. A more proactive approach managers can take is to demonstrate their use.
Creating a display of clothes and hangers in an assembled wardrobe box is worth more than a thousand words. To convey its benefit, add a sign that asks, “Why pack and unpack?” By adding a similar sign on a piece of furniture with drawers that are stretch-wrapped closed, you can visually explain the use and benefit of another product. Glass and dish kits can also be displayed using items purchased at local rummage sales.