Running a Profitable Boat/RV-Storage Operation: Service and Amenities Drive Success

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By Rachel Adams

At any self-storage facility, tenants pay attention to customer service, superior security and amenities. Facilities that excel in these arenas will attain a high occupancy. Those lacking will likely drive customers away. For facilities that provide RV and boat storage, these qualities are particularly crucial to attract and maintain tenants.

Edward Heil, former owner of Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage in Lake Havasu, Ariz., points out one obvious reason why these tenants are very different. Unlike most self-storage tenants, unhappy boat- or RV-storage tenants can pack up and flee a facility in 15 minutes. There’s no packing and moving involved, making it easier for them to make their getaway. "If you make them mad, they just drive up, grab a hold of their stuff and they're gone," he says.

To keep tenants happy and prevent this from happening, operators who specialize in RV and boat storage must master the challenges in this niche market, which can include higher hard and soft costs, the need for advanced security, distinct marketing avenues, and even unique amenities.

[Photo courtesy of Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage]

Under the Umbrella of Customer Service: Amenities and Security

Customer service is a crucial component for the success of every boat/RV-storage facility. These high-end toys often bring high-end tenants who have high expectations and different needs. "If you were a person that can afford a $1.2 million motorcoach, you're going to expect to be treated a whole lot differently than somebody that's taken half the junk out of his garage and stuck it in a storage space," Heil says. "It's a completely different mindset."

A wash area enables RV and boat owners to clean up their vehicles before storing them. [Photo courtesy of Ted Deits, owner of Eucalyptus at Beaumont in California]To provide the ultimate customer service, many facilities offer additional services that apply specifically to this niche. Such amenities include vehicle wash bays, showers, electricity hookups in units, dump stations, water-filling stations and enhanced security. For example, Jeff Jensen, owner of North Plains RV and Self Storage in North Plains, Ore., offers a dump station and water-filling station that can be used to fill RV water tanks or wash down vehicles.

Amenities like these do come with additional upfront hard costs during development and soft costs to keep the services running. However, the price tag is usually worth it because they contribute to good customer service, which equates to happy tenants. 

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