How to Upsell Ancillary Services and Retail Product in Self-Storage

An upsell occurs when a customer buys something, and then you manage to sell him additional stuff he might want or need. Self-storage operators can use these upsell techniques to increase profit.

November 24, 2009

5 Min Read
How to Upsell Ancillary Services and Retail Product in Self-Storage

It’s hard to think about upsells without thinking of the most famous one of all: “Do you want fries with that?”

An upsell occurs when a customer buys something, and then you manage to sell him additional stuff he might want or need. “Do you want fries with that?” is a cliché in the fast-food industry that has trickled over—sometimes as a joke—into business in general. The phrase was originated by a company that wanted to sell other products in addition to its flagship burger. The purpose was to add something the customer might not normally have ordered to increase the average ticket price.

The upselling concept can be used in all industries, even self-storage. The markup on retail products at your facilities is enormous and can immediately increase your bottom line—and your paycheck.
The Process

Managers should begin the upsell process by asking the customer to look at the facility’s “merchandise menu” while his lease is being prepared. The menu is a list of all the ancillary products available at your store, such as boxes and locks.

Once the customer looks over the menu, ask him how many boxes he’ll need for his move. Never ask if he needs boxes, ask how many. If he doesn’t need them, he’ll say so; but if he does or is on the fence about it, your assumption will make the upsell happen. Assuming rather than asking is the fastest way to increase profit.

The process of upselling is easy! If you keep in mind that it’s all about the customer, it will become ingrained in your store culture. You can use the approach in a casual or subtle way to convince a customer to purchase more than he initially planned. Don’t think of upselling as a burden; think of it as a way of improving customers’ storage experience. Once the stigma of upselling is shrugged off, you’ll be amazed at the results.

There are many retail products available that will help protect your customers’ items in storage or at home, or simply provide additional peace of mind. If your customers need any of these items, they should buy them from you, not your local Walmart or home-improvement store.

If you’ve properly qualified your customer on his storage unit, you know what he’ll be storing. Now you can paint a mental picture in the customer’s mind about the benefits of the additional products related to those items.

So, what makes a good upsell? In this business, the ideal receipt should include the storage space, a lock, tenant insurance and at least one moving product (a box, truck rental, etc.). Whether the customer is storing for personal or business use, he needs all of these things.

To entice customers, give every new tenant who signs a three-month agreement a moving box or mattress cover. This will ease him into the upsell process and spark an interest in your ancillary products. Upselling is all about building customer loyalty and becoming the one-stop-shop for all your customers’ storage needs.
The Script

The biggest mistake we can make in regard to upselling is to not do it. Constant practice and creative training will make all of the difference in this program. Keep in mind that not all attempts will result in an upsell. However, if you don’t try at all, you won’t make any.

Upselling is easy if you think of our primary business as serving customers and meeting their needs. Here are some scripts with simple phrases to help you in the process:
Moving Products

  • “While I complete your move-in agreement, please look at our merchandise menu. We have a great return policy on our boxes, so don’t be afraid to get too many. You can bring back the ones you don’t use.”

  • “Thanks for choosing us. While I type in your lease information, please look at our mattress covers. Since you’ll be storing here for awhile, this might give you peace of mind, knowing your mattress is better protected from dust.” 

  • “Now that you have boxes, how many rolls of tape do you think you’ll need?”


  • “Based on what you’re storing, I would recommend $5,000 worth of coverage. It’s only $12. Will that coverage be sufficient, or should we look to increase that amount?”

Larger Unit

  • “Many of our customers like to have aisles in their unit so they can get their items in and out easier. (slight pause) I have a larger size available, would you like to see it?”

During your sales presentation, which will subsequently open to the upsell opportunity, always focus on the customer and not just the sale. Upselling is easy and effortless if you listen to the customer and find out what he’s storing. Knowing this information will enable you to tie your products to his needs.
Brian Byrd is the vice president of sales and marketing for Landvest Corp., which has managed self-storage assets for owners since 1985. He has several years of multi-property management experience. In the self-storage community, he is also a national speaker, author, trainer and sales coach. To reach him, call 800.635.3130; e-mail [email protected]

Related Articles:

Learning to Sell Self-Storage

What Makes Your Customers Buy?

Self-Storage Learns Sales Lessons From the Military

Self-Storage Talk: Selling Boxes

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