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Develop the Perfect Solution

Recreational vehicle owners across the nation are up in arms as city ordinances restrict where large toys may be parked.

RV lovers in residential areas are pushing for freedom and convenience while their neighbors argue the large vehicles are a blight and nuisance. Cities increasingly say bulky vehicles cant be parked in the front or side yard of homes. To meet ordinances, boats and RVs typically must be hidden behind a 7-foot fence.

As the debate wears on, tremendous opportunities arise for storage developers to work with cities in promoting a win-win solution. Developers can attend city council meetings and discuss how a storage project will help beautify neighborhoods and improve homeowner relations. Some storage owners may even be successful in negotiating a transition period in which the city agrees to cover some storage costs for the first few months an ordinance is enforced.

A review of numerous letters written by disgruntled RV owners to media and city councils reveals a harsh truth: Its not uncommon for communities to experience an extreme shortage of vehicle storage space after such ordinances pass. One Northern California city took a particularly strict stance on residential RV parking only to learn no professional facilities were within city limits; RV owners were forced to store vehicles 30 miles away.

Make Lemonade

The saying goes, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As the owner of an RV and boat storage facility you have the opportunity to flip a potentially volatile situation to your favor. The trick is to appease an already displeased group of people. With a creative marketing and well-timed promotions you can have the opportunity of a lifetime. But dont delay. Work with city officials and residents as early as possible, even before your facility is up and running.

Your marketing plan should emphasize several points:

1. Protection. A professional RV and boat storage facility provides far more benefits than parking at home. The best example is protection from the elements. Most exterior damage to RVs and boats is caused by sun, wind and rain. Its unlikely a customer can give their vehicles equally impressive protection at home. Home-based measures usually consist of a canvas or plastic tarp hardly the way to protect an investment costing an average of $50,000, a point you should underscore.

A professional facility also protects from vandals. Highlight your sites security measuresvideo cameras, keyed entry, on-site manager, security guard, door alarms. A little education of tenants can go a long way in signed contracts.

2. Convenience. Folks causing the greatest uproar in the residential RV parking question dont want to lose the freedom to access their vehicles whenever they want. You can debunk this myth by touting 24-hour access to your site. The message should be clear: Little freedom is lost by using a vehicle-storage facility.

3. Neighborhood Improvement. Inform would-be renters that quality of life can actually improve once their vehicles are parked elsewhere. Theyll be free to reclaim yard space for landscaping or home additions. And, by removing behemoth vehicles from their property, neighbor relations will likely improve and tensions disappear.

Into the Future

Among U.S. households that have never owned an RV, more than one in six expressed interest in a future purchase. With as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts and renters already on the road, the vehicle-storage problem is expected to only get worse.

Industry experts have witnessed a change in how RV and boat-storage facilities fit into communities. Traditionally, lots were located off the beaten path in industrial areas. Today, many cities are requiring residential developers to include vehicle storage into community designs during the planning phases. Therefore, just as weve seen a trend of developments building schools and shopping centers within communities, the future will have them building RV and boat storage into the designs.

Industry experts have also noticed that, because of the lack of adequate facilities, many cities are going into the vehicle-storage business themselves and looking into what public lands may be available for the purpose.

While its likely most municipalities will continue prohibiting boat and RV parking on city streets or on private property visible from city streets, many California cities have revamped parking ordinances in the last few years. One area in Southern California recently began requiring RV and boat storage of 10 percent to 20 percent density as a condition of approval. This applies to all new construction in the area. If history repeats itself, the California trend will likely spread across the nation, boding well for storage developers coast to coast.

As the RV and boat craze rages on, new entrepreneurial opportunities for huge profits will continue to soar. Hop on board and enjoy the cruise.

Bob Hayworth is CEO of Baja Construction Inc., at the forefront of the turnkey metal-structure industry for more than 30 years. The companys offerings include self-storage, carports, and RV and boat storage. Baja maintains the highest standards while keeping costs low and construction time to a minimum. For more information about starting a project in your area, call 800.366.9600; visit

RV Acquisition in High Gear

RV purchases throughout the United States have once again reached record levels, reveals a 2005 University of Michigan study commissioned by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Nearly one-in-12 households owning a vehicle also boasts an RV. Thats nearly 8 million homes.

Ownership rose by 15 percent between 2001 and 2005. A leading force behind the upswing is the enormous baby boomer generation, supported by strong gains among younger and older buyers.

Generation X represents the newest gang of RV enthusiasts. These high-energy travelers opt to vacation on the road with their cargo hauler RVs, which can easily accommodate mountain bikes, kayaks, all terrain vehicles and other sporting equipment.

Quick Questions

Q: Is it possible to add RV and boat storage to an already existing facility?

A: Although difficult, its not impossible if adequate space is available. The first step is to send your design builder a site plan showing existing structures. The company can suggest the best layout design at the most affordable price.

Q: What are the different types of RV and boat-storage design, and which is more popular?

A: There are basically three types: covered; covered with three walls; and fully enclosed. Customers gravitate to different levels of protection so its best to offer a selection of all three. Covered is the most popular and easiest to market.

Q: Is RV and boat storage as strong a business as self-storage?

A: Some investors are discovering its even easier to run. Youre dealing with people who own expensive things and are willing to pay for their care. As a result, theyre not likely to be late on monthly rental fees. In fact, the delinquency factor is less then 2 percent! Considering the growing number of RV owners and the stricter ordinances regarding storage, you have a positive and profitable business outlook.

WANT TO LEARN more about offering vehicle storage as an ancillary service to self-storage? Check out Design and Construction for Boat and RV Storage, an audio-cast available exclusively through the Self-Storage Training Institute. Visit for details.

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