Designing Self-Storage for Add-On Revenue: Configuring Your Space for Ancillary Products and Services

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By Kay Miller Temple

Today's self-storage design is unrecognizable compared to its simple origin of metal boxes with roll-up doors. Many self-storage operators have branched out from traditional storage-unit rentals and begun incorporating ancillary products and services to make their facility a one-stop shop for customers. Today's trends for facility design include options for add-on profit centers and additional revenue opportunities.

Design Impacts Retail Revenue

Millions of marketing-research dollars have determined that when it comes to retail sales, keeping just the right amount of inventory in stock, in line and straight on shelves, moves more product, says Kevin Leebrick, manager for Advantage Self Storage in Indian Trail, N.C.  He uses display details that show effort. “For example, I put boxes in stacks of five and rotate them by 45-degree angles,” he says. “That takes some time but makes for a more modern look, and a look that shows you care about the store.”

From a facility-design perspective, there are other things self-storage operators can do to inspire retail sales, and they don't necessarily require lots of real estate. “Space is a plus, but not a must," says Robert Vodraska, national account manager for Supply Source One, a division of Schwarz Supply Source and supplier of retail products to the storage industry.

The 50-inch TVs at A1 Mini U-Stor-It in Ottawa, Canada, serve as dynamic displays for retail messaging. For example, operators can install LED screens in their retail area to punch up the look. “Go big or go home,” says Mathieu Seguin, director of operations for A1 Mini U-Stor-It in Ottawa, Canada. The facility’s 50-inch TVs provide a reasonably priced but tech-savvy look that displays dynamic messaging. Prices for boxes and other products are visible on screen and can be easily changed. “It looks streamlined, professional, and provides a point of motion that immediately engages customers as they walk in the door,” Seguin says.

Rearranging the furniture can also improve office design. The retail area should be periodically reshuffled to add a new vibe, says Bruce Jordan, president of San Clemente, Calif.-based Jordan Architects Inc. “It should be clearly visible from the customer-service counter and designed so customers can circulate around and view the display.”

New trends in retail design also create an atmosphere that says “green,” with openness and great lighting, according to Nancy Wagner, marketing vice president of Chateau Products Inc., a supplier of retail products. Glazed concrete floors, sleek white surfaces, and corrugated, galvanized metal walls get the job done, she says. “Chrome fixtures on parchment walls create the green, friendly look.”

Design and Records Storage

With more and more companies pushing their business records off site to save on valuable office space, self-storage operators who accommodate records storage—either simplistically or via sophisticated services—will find a solid revenue stream. The records-storage model has evolved since its introduction to the self-storage industry, and operators have various options. Those who wish to provide more formal records-management services will find the design launch is a team sport.

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