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

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Sherwood focuses on referrals and building relationships within the community to build his tenant base. "We build relationships with the local dealers and end users of these types of vehicles, including seasonal housing sources for the Arizona winter visitors," Sherwood says. "We go into those communities and create relationships with the companies who manage them. This gives us access to their clients through group presentations and being in their newsletters."

Finding Success Without the Bells and Whistles

Even facilities that lack the perfect location or all the extra amenities can still capitalize on boat and RV storage if there’s demand. Located in a rural town, Arcata Bay Self Storage in Arcata, Calif., is the only facility in the county with outdoor vehicle storage. The facility currently stores about 80 cars, RVs and boats. "While a couple other facilities may store a car or two, none have the capacity I do for storing vehicles outside," says Geraldine Goldberg, facility manager.

Most successful boat/RV-storage facilities are built near a recreation destination that supports the tenant base, such as a lake or state park. [Photo courtesy of Ted Deits, owner of Eucalyptus at Beaumont in California]A local university and small airport bring vehicle-storage tenants to Goldberg, who offers rates lower than the airport for travelers leaving for extended periods and can accommodate students who need vehicle storage between semesters. Goldberg has also marketed to boat- and RV-repair shops, and has built connections with local tow-truck drivers who often refer tenants to her facility.

Even without wash bays, showers or a dump station, Goldberg maintains a high occupancy, which she attributes to excellent customer service. "Every one of my tenants gets the best in customer service—that could be why my facility is full most of the time," she says.

Facility operators agree: Whether it's an expensive RV sitting in an individually alarmed unit or grandma’s antique furniture in a traditional self-storage unit, good customer service is good for business. “We treated everybody like they had million-dollar rigs sitting on our property, even if they were just renting a 5-by-5 space in a climate-controlled building," Heil says.

Rachel Adams graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish. Her passion for writing and culture propelled her journey through college and have continued to inspire her endeavors with VIRGO Publishing, where she contributes to "Inside Self-Storage” and "Professional Door Dealer" magazines. Contact her with questions, comments or ideas at

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