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Interested in Embarking on Boat/RV Storage? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First

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By Krista Diamond

Ask any boat or RV owner and they’ll tell you: Finding a place to store those vehicles can be tough. Homeowners’ associations hate seeing them in driveways; cities ticket them when they’re parked on the street; and apartment-complex managers don’t take kindly to sacrificing their limited parking.

With increasing numbers of people eager for a taste of life on the road (or sea), RV and boat storage is more desirable than ever. Fortunately, supply hasn’t caught up with demand—that’s where you come in. If the process of adding this specialized type of storage to your existing self-storage business seems daunting, start by asking yourself the following five questions.

1. Why Should I Offer Boat/RV Storage?

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself when considering the addition of boat/RV storage is whether it’ll be profitable. In most markets, it will. The main reason is the scarcity of the service.

Typically, people who just need a 5-by-5 unit to store their winter wardrobe and a few odds and ends are only willing to travel a few miles to their storage facility. That’s because standard units are widely available in most markets, making it unnecessary for consumers to subject themselves to the inconvenience of commuting across town. When it comes to boat/RV storage, however, limited options make the old “location, location, location” adage obsolete. Even if your facility isn’t the most convenient, RV and boat owners will still want to store with you.

You can get a better understanding of this by assessing your market. Do your research and find out how many storage facilities in your area offer boat/RV storage. Next, look at the recreational opportunities available to potential customers. Is you facility near a mountainous, forested area with lots of hiking trails and camping spots? Then focus on the storage needs of RV owners. Is it in proximity to the ocean or a lake? Then make boat storage your priority. Fortunately, many of the features you’ll offer will be appreciated by both categories of tenants.

2. What Type of Boat/RV Storage Should I Offer?

The great thing about adding boat/RV storage to your facility is it won’t necessarily cost a fortune. Besides tailoring it to the needs of future consumers, you can modify it to fit your budget.

There are essentially three types of boat/RV storage, ranging from simple to luxurious. The most basic form is a simple parking lot with spaces available for rent. If you have land you can pave or an existing parking lot that rarely fills up, converting it to storage should be easy. Simply use paint to designate rental spots and number them accordingly.

One step up from parking-lot storage is canopy storage. This type features a roof only or a roof and walls on two or three sides. It’ll cost a little more, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you live in an area where it snows or you get excessive sun; tenants will be happy to know that a canopy is protecting their vehicle from the elements.

If you want to cater to customers who expect luxury, you can offer fully enclosed units. These feature high clearance for even the tallest of vehicles as well as roll-up doors, dependable locks and even unit alarms. If you live in an area where you see many high-end boats and RVs, this type of storage will guarantee you business.

3. What Basic Features Do I Need?

Installing boat/RV storage won’t require you to change everything about your facility, but it will necessitate a few tweaks. The most important thing you’ll want to offer these tenants is space—not just to park but also to drive. You’ll need drive aisles that are at least 35 feet wide to accommodate large motorhomes and vehicles that are towing boats or a fifth-wheel trailer. By giving vehicle owners that extra room, you’ll not only improve their storage experience, you’ll prevent them from potentially damaging your property.

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