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Reaching for Retail Profit in Self-Storage

If displayed, merchandised and used as a sales tool, retail product can become a nice profit center at nearly any self-storage facility. Unfortunately, operators typically display boxes, locks and moving supplies with no real thought to how the display looks or the flow of the retail center within the existing office space. In fact, most of the time, these items just collect dust and take up valuable space.

Go With the Flow

In the course of my industry travels, I’ve realized most operators should spend more money, time and energy to become better at displaying and selling retail product. For example, when a potential self-storage customer is looking for storage, managers spend little to no time selling the “value-added services” of these products.

The No. 1 reason why a customer chooses a self-storage location is convenience. If this is true, why are we not selling these retail products to make it more convenient for the customer? This is a great opportunity that benefits customers who’ll undoubtedly appreciate purchasing all their moving supplies from one place. They can rent a storage unit while purchasing boxes, locks and moving supplies in the same location.

Sell this to the customer as a convenience. In addition, if you offer a rental truck or other services, let them know this as well. For example, “Mr. Jones, we are your one-stop solution to all your moving needs. Here, at Advantage Self-Storage, we can provide you with a storage unit, moving truck, moving boxes, locks and moving supplies. This will make it much more convenient so you won’t have too run all over town.” This will not only create an additional profit center but will provide tremendous value-added services.

A well-designed retail center can be a major attraction for first-time customers. If displayed properly, retail products can provide the professionalism needed to add value and trust with potential tenants. They may perceive you as wanting to take care of all their needs and providing helpful hints of what they may need during their move. It also gives your staff an opportunity to build value and trust with the customer while discussing these additional products and services.

Incidentals

In addition, a professionally designed retail center can draw other foot traffic to your facility. Many people have to purchase packing supplies. Perhaps they’ll stop into your shop. While picking up boxes and tape, maybe they’ll realize the benefits of self-storage and inquire about rentals. Or the manager on duty might suggest: “Have you ever considered an additional ‘walk-in closet’ for your extra storage needs?”

Many people don’t realize self-storage facilities offer small and affordable units. At your suggestion, walk-in customers may take you up on renting a unit. If not, you have planted a seed for future business. In addition, they may have a relative or friend looking for storage and, if they experience how nice and professional you are, they may refer business your way.

Finally, a retail center provides an opportunity to advertise and promote these additional products and services in the local Yellow Pages under moving trucks, boxes, moving supplies, etc. These extra avenues always help promote your core business, self-storage. It may be a means to getting customers in the door that will eventually rent a storage unit.

All in all, retail centers can benefit both consumers and operators of self-storage. Give it some thought, then start reaching for retail and rental profits at your facility.

Brad North is the founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in facility management, feasibility, onsite sales, marketing and operational training for the self-storage industry. He contributes articles to various self-storage publications and is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant within the industry. For information, call 513.229.0400; visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.

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