When my kids were younger, we attended many community events. There were safety days hosted by the local police and fire departments, Easter egg hunts and fall festivals, church carnivals, car shows, and even a few neighborhood block parties. Like most parents, I was attracted to these outings because they were affordable, plus they always had loads of activities for children. Bounce houses, face painting and animals kept my kiddos engaged and happy. Some of our best memories (and photos) as a family are from these wonderful community events.
One self-storage operator also hoped to help families make some memories while announcing its grand opening. Last month, StorCo Self Storage hosted a nine-day carnival at its new facility in Wood River, Ill. Co-hosted by Wood River Parks & Recreation, the event included food, games and rides as well as music by several bands. Talk about an awesome way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood!
While holding a carnival might be out of reach for most operators, there are many other ways you can engage and bond with your community. In fact, hosting, sponsoring or participating in a public event can pay off big time! Despite living in the age of Yelp reviews and Google searches, people still seek businesses they can connect with on a personal level. You need to be a person to them, not just another building on the block. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Plan a yard sale. Setting the legalities of this endeavor aside, a yard sale can be a great way to draw people to your facility. Plus, there are so many options. You can contact local businesses and offer them booth space for a nominal fee or allow your own tenants to sell items. You can even accept donations for a local charity. The possibilities are truly endless. And everyone loves a good yard sale!
Pet adoption. This is a total win. If you’ve got the space, contact an animal shelter and offer to host a pet-adoption day. Most rescues will already have the infrastructure; they just need a business willing to provide the room and help with the marketing. You can even accept cash or product donations on their behalf.
Sponsor something. Get online and find out what’s happening in your community. Is there a wine-tasting coming up? Can you sponsor it in some way? Does a local church need boxes for their charity outreach? The summer months are loaded with local events (July 4th!), so be on the lookout for ways you can get involved.
Host a community or safety day. Rent a bounce house, provide a few games and music, grill some burgers, and invite your neighbors. You can even hold a raffle for a free month of storage. To promote safety, ask your local first responders to offer instructions on how to properly install a baby car seat, discuss water safety for young children, or provide CPR classes.
Invite other groups to promote their events or sell their products. Think Girl Scout cookies, the local high school’s upcoming play, a carwash fundraiser, or a craft or hobby fair. Again, these are organizations that lack space. If you can provide it, why wouldn’t you?
Offer space for a meeting or educational event. If you have a conference room, offer its use to a local organization, school or speaker. Their attendees will be exposed to your beautiful facility and amazed by your hospitality.
Loan out your branded truck. Many charities and other organizations often need a moving truck for a short period. Why not provide yours for free? Think about the branding as your vehicle is driven around town.
Hold a contest. This one is super simple. You could even tie it to a holiday, such as a pumpkin-carving contest. Or incite your tenants to sign up for autopay by entering them into a raffle for a $25 gift card.
Of course, you should check with your insurance company before hosting any event or lending out your moving truck. Same goes with city ordinances as you might need a permit for some activities. Just cover your bases.
Also, be sure to market like crazy! Add details to your social media, post fliers, send e-mails to your current and past tenants, and talk about what’s happening and your involvement. If no one knows you’re hosting an ice cream social this summer, how can they attend? Trust me, people are always looking for free events, especially those that involve activities for kids. There will likely be some cost to whatever you do, but the goodwill and branding you’ll create are definitely worth the dollars.