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Adding a Truck-Rental Program to Your Self-Storage Operation

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By Jacquelyn Nash

A self-storage facility without a rental truck is like a dog without a bone! A dog will survive without a bone. However, when you give him one, he just naturally knows what to do with it. Similarly, a storage facility can survive without a rental truck, but it’s a natural fit for the business to have one.

Rental trucks help self-storage operators increase revenue, occupancy and brand recognition. It’s also simple to implement this service at any facility, large or small. Here are a few things to consider when creating a truck-rental program.

Truck-Rental Options

There are two options for offering truck rentals. First, you can rent a truck to anyone who wants to move anywhere in the country. This is often called a one-way rental. A customer will come to your location to rent the truck, but the vehicle won’t be returned to your property.

If this is the option you’re considering, you may want to dedicate a specific phone and computer to the venture. You’ll also need a designated parking area to house multiple trucks of varying sizes. One-way rentals offer a revenue stream, since you’ll receive a commission on each rental.

The second option is to provide local rentals. This is where you have a designated facility truck that’s always available to your customers. You’ll be able to set the rates for your moves and even brand the truck to match your facility.

Local rentals are an additional revenue source that doubles as a marketing medium, since you can advertise right on the vehicle. You can also offer free use of the truck as an incentive to anyone who moves in instead of a discount on the rental rate.

Buy or Lease?

If you’ve decided to add a local rental-truck business to your facility, the next consideration is whether to buy or lease. The benefits of leasing sometimes outweigh those of buying when you consider the advantageous leasing options provided by some vendors. There can be flexible options at the end of the lease such as purchasing the vehicle, extending the lease or turning it in. There’s often a set purchase price at the end of a lease that allows for lower monthly payments that are deductible as a monthly business expense. Accounting issues are also avoided when leasing because you don’t have to maintain depreciation tables and mileage records. Some of leases even offer unlimited mileage.

If you prefer to purchase your truck, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Dealerships may be willing to negotiate with you on price if you’re paying cash.
  • Your truck will be an asset you’ll be able to depreciate. Plus, interest on your loan may be deductible.
  • When shopping, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Various features will affect the final price.
  • Some important features to look for include a reinforced fiberglass box and a loading ramp.

Business Needs

There are some other important aspects to consider including insurance, the rental agreement, wrap design and marketing. Let’s take a look at each.

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