|The Inside Scoop|
Holiday Giving Opens Self-Storage Facilities to Rewarding Possibilities
A Guest Installment by Gina Six Kudo
The holiday season is upon us. That special time of year, when the inherent good nature of Americans shines through even more than normal, has arrived for 2012. Just as individuals step up their generosity during the holidays, the self-storage industry frequently shows its compassion with various types of events and fundraising drives.
While some facilities set aside units to collect donated items like canned goods, clothing, warm coats and blankets, toys and more, others prefer to write checks to their favorite organizations. Some self-storage sites host events to benefit those in need. Some do all of the above.
As the giving season kicks into gear, I started a thread on Self-Storage Talk called “Holidays and Marketing” to gauge how other self-storage managers and facilities approach their fundraising efforts during the holidays. In a perfect world, what holiday-marketing effort would you do and what charity would you support?
Many of the managers who have responded so far wish they could do more. “I love November and December where we can ‘require’ a donation of a toy in order to receive the move-in special,” notes MamaDuke, who strives to hold a Toys For Tots event each year. “However, I haven't ever been able to do anything more than just hand over the full box of toys. No event or anything more.”
Whatever you choose to do, it's important to remember the purpose of your charitable efforts. Your first priority should be toward ensuring your facility puts forth its best effort on behalf of your chosen organization. If you accomplish this first goal and excel in your efforts, the intrinsic rewards will bring with it good PR for your company as volunteers and community members. Recipients and participants will often walk away from a fundraiser with good feelings toward your company.
Bill&Diane, who teams up with local churches, says self-storage facilities can make a difference simply by donating a unit for a month or providing space for an organization to hold a rummage sale. “We do more of course, but that is our choice,” the SST member says. “By donating the unit and outdoor space for the month a lot is done for the charities, and we get exposure. [It’s a] win-win.”
We have experienced similar benefits year after year from our "boots on the ground" efforts on behalf of different charitable organizations. For example; our annual Toys For Tots drive (now in its 15th year at my location) brings volunteers from near and far to our place of business to drop off donations. We see an influx of new faces each year. Despite the paid advertising we do during the year to market our facility, some folks still don't know we are here, but our charitable efforts bring them to our doorstep. Being associated with great causes has always been good to us.
Planning a holiday-giving campaign takes a bit of work—sometimes a lot of work—but remembering to always wear your smile is the best thing you can do. Just as you answer the phone at your facility wearing a smile, be sure to always have one on when performing any type of goodwill effort.
If something goes awry, roll with it and keep on smiling. You’ll feel better, and after all, smiles are highly contagious. I don’t know a single person who participates in charitable work hoping to be viewed as Ebenezer Scrooge, so always be aware of what you are portraying to those working side by side with you.
If you need inspiration for ideas or wish to offer campaign suggestions that have worked well for your facility, please join the “Holidays and Marketing” discussion thread and share your thoughts.
For those inclined to start a program to make a difference in the lives of others, we can't do it all by ourselves, but we can make a dent in the world's problems—one person at a time. I hope each of you reading this is moved to do one small act of kindness for your fellow man. And please remember, our fellow citizens are not just in need when the holidays roll around. Hold onto your seasonal goodwill for an entire year and watch the impact you can make in your communities if you simply open yourself up to the possibilities.
“As much as I would love to do more during my favorite time of year, I don't have the money or the energy to do more,” SST member FAHRumrunner posted in the thread. “If my resources would permit it, there would never be another hungry, sick, homeless, or hurt child on the face of this earth. In a world with so much, it hurts to see the little ones suffer.”
Gina Six Kudo is a moderator on Self-Storage Talk and general manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif. She has more than 16 years of self-storage experience, and a strong customer-service and sales background.