By Amy Campbell
It seems like just yesterday we were hosting backyard barbecues and planning summer vacations. Blink and now we’re on the threshold of the holiday season. If you haven’t started your holiday decorating, marketing and community outreach now’s the time!
The season is the perfect backdrop to show your community that you are a retailer, not just a place to store stuff. Just yesterday I posted a news item about all the ways operators are getting into the holiday spirit. From coat, toy and food drives to offering a gift-wrapping station, these operators are working alongside community members to make a difference this holiday season. Even though Thanksgiving is next week, it’s not too late to get started. And there are so many possibilities!
The holidays are a crazy-busy time for everyone, including your tenants. Offering a warm beverage in a festive to-go paper cup along with a few fancy cookies from a holiday tin will surely be a welcome gesture during their busy day. Right now, you can score all kinds of holiday-themed products at grocery and warehouse stores. Plus, don’t forget to shop for these items after the holidays and get some deep discounts. You’ll be ahead of the game for next year.
You can go low key when adding festive decorations to your office or go all out. If you have the funds for a blow-up reindeer or snowman, great. Adding a Christmas tree complete with ornaments, lights and “presents” underneath will also be well received. Consider adding candy canes on the tree so your tenants can grab one when they come through the door. Kids love this!
However, decorating doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. A few strings of holiday lights around the window office, a nice holiday rug or mat in front of the door, or a collection of nutcrackers in various sizes on the counter can also add some flair to your office. Again, your customers will appreciate your effort.
The holidays are also a great time to initiate some unique marketing programs. Consider e-mailing a holiday letter highlighting property changes or upgrades, recap previous events, or just give them a recipe they can share with their family. Be sure to thank them for renting with you and wish them well in the New Year. If you have the budget, you can send holiday postcards or cards via the mail. You can usually find decent prices on these items right now.
The next few weeks offer self-storage operators a golden opportunity to focus on their community outreach as well. Charities are craving volunteers, donations and partnerships with business right now. They need space to store their donations, volunteers to pack and organize them, and even trucks to help deliver all their goodies.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is one of the most well-known charities, but there are so many more that need your help. You can find a charity to support via a Google search, your chamber of commerce, through fire and police personnel—who often launch their own holiday charity drives—social-service organizations such as the United Way, or even your local schools.
But you don’t have tie yourself to a charity or organization to make a difference. Consider adding a few big boxes in your lobby and ask your customers to donate canned food. After the holidays, deliver your donations to the local food bank. This works well for animal shelters as well.
As you can see, there are so many possibilities when it comes to decorating, marketing and community outreach. To see what other operators are doing this holiday season or share your plans, check out this thread on Self-Storage Talk.