When it comes time to lease up a new or failing self-storage facility, every manager knows the basics: lower prices, post on aggregator sites, up your social media game, make sure you have a good website, and place some banner ads out on the Web. You might even implement a customer-referral program or offer free use of a moving truck with each rental. But is that really all there is to leasing up a storage facility?
While it can be, it doesn't have to be. There's always room for innovation. Here are three ideas to speed up lease-up:
1. Get referrals from local groups and businesses.
It's great to have a normal customer-referral program, but don't forget to mine a little business-to-business action as well. For example, talk to local moving companies and offer them a small referral bonus for any customers they send your way. Visit nearby schools, churches, apartment complexes—anywhere that might have patrons in need of some extra space. Colleges are excellent, with students often needing storage over the summer when they return home.
Don't be afraid to get creative with it. You probably know your area as well as anyone. Find that marketing niche that no one else has exploited.
2. Find alternative uses for your space.
Self-storage doesn't have to be pigeonholed as a service to reduce clutter or store belongings between moves. Operators are increasingly offering unique uses for their space, and there's no reason you can't do the same.
If you have units with temperature and humidity control, you've already got the perfect space for wine storage. You could allow local bands to use units as practice spaces, or deploy them to host local art exhibits. Another option is to integrate elements of the valet-storage model, which consolidates customers into a single area and rents in smaller increments. Those businesses also offer pickup and delivery services.
Consider leveraging the space outside of your units as well. Don't be shy about using parking areas and pathways to host local events, such as a pop-up recycling center, a community-sourced agriculture drop-off point or a swap meet.
You have one thing everybody wants—space—so use it to your advantage wherever possible.
3. Embrace new technology.
There are all kinds of new technologies that can be applied to self-storage. Mobile apps can provide customers with conveniences, including opening the gate or even their own unit, right from their smartphone. Think about how apps or other integrations can simplify the rental process or customer communications.
You can also go beyond physical storage and use technology to offer tenants free, unlimited cloud storage. This type of feature establishes you as the go-to business for all storage-related needs and helps make your property stand out from the pack. Studies have shown that customers prefer services like free cloud storage to more costly promotions like free rent.
These are just a few examples. No doubt, you have your own unique experience and approach to quickening the pace of move-ins. When it comes to leasing up a storage facility, what innovative methods have you used or would like to emulate? Let us know in the comments section below.
Tim Schlee is a writer and market researcher for VaultDrop LLC, which offers self-storage operators a platform to provide customers with secure, unlimited cloud storage for life alongside unit rentals. For more information, visit www.vaultdrop.com.