Have you ever walked into a big-box store to grab a few items and noticed they’ve changed the whole environment? I’m sure it’s happened, and likely more than once! The next thing you know, you’re in there for an hour and a half. Then you walk out with a new pair of boots, three rolls of duct tape and a hamster cage, even though you don’t own a hamster!
Why do these stores upend their layout every few years? There are a few reasons. First, these “resets” allow the retailer to give the store a fresh look while completing repairs or installing new equipment. They’re also trying to encourage impulse buys. When shoppers walk around looking for a specific item, they’ll also see all the new stuff they never noticed before. This same concept can work for your self-storage retail store, too! Read on to find out how to refresh your space and boost sales.
You do have a retail store at your self-storage facility, right? You can sell items from an office of any size. You just need to be creative! If you have an open wall, you have retail space.
Your tenants need locks, tape, boxes and more. You don’t have to carry every item, but at least offer the basics. That said, customers may expect you to carry niche products they can’t find elsewhere such as mattress covers, dish kits, moving blankets, etc. After all, it should be our goal to make the rental process easier by providing a one-stop-shopping experience. This is why shoe stores sell socks and shoelaces! You might even attract some non-storage business.
Remember, you can generally get a 100% markup on retail items! That’s an excellent return on investment. Plus, the products you’ll offer aren’t ever going to expire. It’s just added revenue in your pocket.
Opt for Fresh Design
Experts say you should renovate your kitchen every decade or so. If a kitchen should be revamped this often, surely your self-storage office and retail store need a refresh sooner than that! Design styles get stale and start to look drab. Faded signs, peeling wallpaper and dust-covered boxes don’t make a good impression. Prospects should walk into your office for the first time and be impressed with its modern touches. You want them to see a nice, clean place. Just because the building has been around for decades doesn't mean it has to look that way.
If you aren’t sure whether it’s time for a reset, look at other offices and workspaces. Stop into your nearest competitors or look at pictures online. How does your store stack up?
If it’s time for a change, following are several things you can do to refresh your area. The good news is having a relatively small retail space means it doesn't take much effort to give it a facelift. Sometimes it's just a matter of fresh paint, new signage, extra cleaning or relocating some of your stock. Any of these can have a big impact.
Do some rearranging. Moving products around on your display board or retail floor can give certain items a sales boost. Focus on creating different levels so the eye has to stop frequently instead of just skimming. Splashes of color will have the same effect.
Encourage impulse buys. Changing things around makes customers spend more time looking for the product they originally planned to purchase. Hopefully, they’ll come across something else that interests them or that they didn’t even realize they needed, therefore, increasing the chance of more sales.
Be strategic. An old grocery-store trick is to place an item customers might overlook beside a top-seller. For example, try placing a new product next to your locks. This’ll increase customers’ awareness of it, as everyone needs a lock. Placing a product next to your desk or checkout area is another good trick. Who came up with the idea of putting candy next to the register? It works!
Maximize your space. Use wall displays as much as possible. Make use of every inch of your retail area without making it look cluttered. Think “tiny house living.”
Be open to inspiration. It’s important to seek fresh ideas. Industry resources are good references for office and retail trends. If you get the opportunity to attend a national or state self-storage tradeshow, look at available products and how vendors display them. Check out office designs and retail centers at all kinds of stores. Note their use of color, layering, signage and materials to create attractive, inviting spaces.
Consider a Remodel
If you’re planning to expand or do other renovation work around your self-storage facility, it’s the perfect time to remodel your retail space, too. For example, use the opportunity to install new flooring or lighting, or to repair or replace anything that’s broken. Managing multiple projects simultaneously will help you save money and time, plus you can get all potential commotion out of the way at once.
If your renovation is significant, proper planning and safety will be necessary to limit business disruption. Try to minimize tenant inconvenience by performing work after hours or on days your facility is closed. You can also:
- Block off any areas that active construction zones.
- When helping customers, use a tablet instead of a desktop computer so you can move around when necessary.
- Keep some retail products handy, even if most of your inventory has been temporarily packed away. It’s easy to stash a few items in a vacant unit. Let customers know you have additional items available on request.
Once your reset starts, be ready hear customers ask, “What are you doing in here?” You’ll be happy to tell them you're remodeling! They may experience a bit of hassle, but generally, they’ll appreciate the upgrade.
When creating lists for facility maintenance and repairs, remember to include your retail space. This is a critical area, as it’s one customers see right away and all the time! Giving this space a reset will make you and your self-storage team feel refreshed, too.
Anna Ross is facility manager for Tower Self Storage in Monroe, Louisiana. She began her self-storage management career about 10 years ago in Jacksonville, Florida. She’s managed facilities as small as 258 units and large, multi-story locations with 1,260 units. She recently experienced her first property expansion and is always looking to learn new things. For more information, call 318.388.1111, email [email protected].