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Boost Your Bloomin Business!

January 1, 2006

4 Min Read
Boost Your Bloomin Business!

Any self-storage operator with an impressive property welcomes foot traffic as a means to heighten awareness of his location and offerings. Though drawing crowds to a storage facility can be difficult, Saline, Mich.-based U.S. Storage Depot manages with an amazing magnetism, attracting visitors with inventive ideas that cost almost nothing.

Successful open houses are only a phone call away in most cases, and more facilities ought to be grabbing the opportunity, says Bryan Feldpausch, the companys marketing director. One of his latest brainstorms grew from a chance summer sighting. I was passing a gas station and noticed its parking lot was packed with flowers, he recalls. They were having a flower sale, and I thought to myself, What a great idea for us, because a lot of our properties are right off highways or in other high-visibility areas outside the city.

After selecting one of U.S. Storage Depots newer facilities as an ideal venue, Feldpausch asked the manager to call local nurseries with the flower-sale plan. Most reacted to the unusual offer with skepticism, but within an hour, there was a taker. A nursery off the beaten path was willing to experiment with displaying flats of colorful flowers in the facilitys parking lot. Two weeks later, the lot was loaded with blooming plants, hanging flower baskets, etc., Feldpausch says. The flower shop set up everything and handled pricing and sales. We helped by putting signage throughout the community.

The result? About 200 passing motorists spotted the floral rainbow and pulled in to browse. Visitors ranged from retirees to moms toting kids, with an emphasis on middle-class homeowners. The nursery scored about $1,000 in sales for the day while facility staff gently introduced shoppers to the workings of self-storage.

We both ended up with new customers, all from a five-minute phone call, Feldpausch reports. Since the first flower sale, two other shops have asked if they might be able to do the same thing with us sometime. This is an event well probably incorporate into every spring and summer marketing plan.

Logistics

Granted, visitors were stopping for flowers, not self-storage; but getting newcomers to physically walk a site is a powerful achievement. After all, a storage business is usually invisible to those not seeking the service. Were just looking to increase awareness that our facility isnt a little outdoor shed; its all interior units and climate control, with business amenities such as fax and UPS services, Feldpausch says.

To further capitalize on the event, staff approached flower browsers with a raffle to win donations solicited from other area nurseries. Because people were in a good mood and on site for a positive reason, they were more open to chatting with staff about their storage needs as well. We had gifts like flowerpots and plants, and we displayed business cards and brochures so people could see where these businesses are in the community, Feldpausch explains. At the end of the day, we picked the raffle winners namesthat way we could collect their contact information to use for a future mailing.

For signage, U.S. Storage Depot set up 2-by-2-foot freestanding signs in business districts within a 2- to 3-mile radius of the facility. First, staff got permission from the strip-mall tenants and shop managers to place signs and fliers on the property. They often want to find out how they can become involved in one of the activities we are doing, Feldpausch says.

The Big Picture

Not every local business will want to work with you on a marketing event. Thats just the sales world, Feldpausch reasons. But for as many times as you are told no, you will receive an equal benefit from the people who say yes. The magic quotients are keeping your eyes open and practicing consistent outreach, he says.

Every time you see a seasonal retail display, talk to the operator and explore your options. Just be personable, Feldpausch advises. Also, spend two hours a week visiting with local folks, and try not to make it a sales pitch. Once you talk to people, you see how you can help each other. It doesnt have to be a massive campaignjust do a little here and there, and when you find those who are receptive, go back with some donuts and talk to them for a few minutes.

This simple neighborly plan creates allies in your community. Once a network is established, a framework for referrals develops, giving your facility a keen edge over the competition. Other cheap and effective promotion ideas include community garage sales, a Crafts for Kids Day (send fliers to daycare centers), Easter-egg hunts, and food and clothing drives (you donate the storage).

Its rewarding to work with others in the community and strive to be better, Feldpausch says. With each event, we have another close contact; and anytime someone has a storage needboom! theyre sent to us.

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