While traveling recently, I had some time to kill at the airport. Rather than grabbing a seat and hunkering down, I chose to walk the expansive space. Airports are an interesting concept. You’re there because you’re traveling, but they also provide you with an enormous assortment of things to do. In addition to the TVs dangling in every waiting area, there are plenty of places to grab a quick bite or sit down and linger over a meal and drinks.
Then there are the shops. They cater to those looking for a last-minute gift for a friend or family member before they head home as well as those seeking mementos for themselves. They also come in all price points, allowing people to splurge one last time. In addition, an abundance of kiosks can now be found alongside these retailers. Many are aimed at the buyer who forgot something—like a phone charger—or to entice people to purchase new technology. One that caught my eye and was totally unexpected was a kiosk that sold makeup. The offerings weren’t the typical bottles of foundation and tubes of lipstick you find at Target or CVS. Nope, this kiosk was selling high-end makeup, the kind reserved for upscale beauty stores.
As I passed the vending machine, I was at first a bit shocked and thought makeup seemed out of place next to headphones and forgotten travel items like a toothbrush. But as I perused the products, I thought, why not? Why wouldn’t an airport have a kiosk that offered something as universal as makeup. Is it not just as important to some as other items you might find here? Moreover, it’s a smart move! You can get just about anything here, so why not this too?
While self-storage facilities aren’t airports, you do have a captive audience like they do. Your renters are here for a reason. Why shouldn’t you offer them more than just storage? They need moving and packing supplies, and likely a truck to transport their items to your facility. And while many operators provide a variety of profit centers already, there are many more avenues that have yet to be explored!
In a recent thread on Self-Storage Talk (SST), the industry’s most active online community, a member discussed an article they spotted about a “senior moving manager,” someone who could help an elderly person sift through their belongings and determine what to keep vs. donate, help pack it all, then move it to the new location. Think of it in terms of an event planner. They take your input, but then do all the work.
SST member KrisinCali was intrigued by the concept and thought it could easily translate to the self-storage industry. She wrote, “We've all had that elderly person who is just overwhelmed by their storage unit. You want to help but are constrained by being the manager. They need someone like this, even if we don't necessarily want them to move (or we do and re-rent the unit at a higher rate) but downsizing is feasible. Or even for estates.” Others agreed.
Over the years, many self-storage operators have branched out with creative products and services. Vail Ranch Self Storage in Temecula, California, added a postal center that has become hugely successful. Another SST member opened a coffee shop called Northwest Grind alongside their facility, Town & Country Storage in Rochester, Washington. Who wouldn’t want to grab a drink while visiting their storage unit?
Perhaps these profit centers aren’t ideal for your market or business. The great part is that they don’t have to be! There are endless possibilities for add-on products and services that you might offer your customers. Perhaps you know a budding cookie or cupcake baker who’s looking for a place to sale their food. Maybe you have a friend who designs jewelry or paints amazing portraits. Many people are always on the lookout for hand-created gifts and home décor, including your renters!
The more you offer your community, the more people will notice you. Yes, self-storage is your bread and butter, but you can throw in some delicious jam or honey to make it more enticing. When you do, you’ll generate additional revenue for your business.
Airports don’t need to offer kiosks with makeup, phone chargers or fancy cupcakes. They do it because it provides convenience and delights their customers, and they get a slice of the profit from the vendor selling these items. It’s time for storage operators to grab a fork and dig into the money pie.
Putting aside logistics and startup costs, what fun, imaginative and successful profit centers do you think would work alongside a self-storage facility? I’m seeking input for an upcoming article for ISS and would love to hear your ideas. If you’re already offering an innovative profit center, you definitely need to share your story! Email me at [email protected].