Due to their life circumstances, most of your self-storage renters need boxes and other packing supplies when moving into or out of their unit. The trick is to ensure they buy these products from your business and not the big-box store up the street. You can also sell this merchandise to the general public. Following are ways to boost your retail revenue.

Christel Land, Founder

August 15, 2023

4 Min Read
Increasing Your Self-Storage Add-On Income Stream

Boxes and other packing materials make a great upsell to self-storage unit rentals. They’re also good products to offer to the general public. This income stream becomes especially important when your site is approaching full occupancy and new move-ins are no longer your main source of income growth. Here are some tips to make the most of retail sales.

Make It Part of Your Sales Process

The first step toward optimizing your self-storage ancillary income is to treat the unit rental and retail sale as a single close, not two. Your boxes and other packing materials should be a natural part of the conversation with every prospective customer.

For example, if you offer high-quality boxes, let tenants know that these allow them to stack more boxes on top of each other without the bottom ones collapsing under the weight. This translates into a more efficient use of floor space, which means the customer can possibly use a smaller unit and save on their monthly rent. Few of your prospects will be aware of this, but if you help them connect the dots, you’ll win their trust by showing them how to save money and avoid headaches. You’ll also boost your income through a straightforward upsell.

Make It Easy

Whenever someone needs self-storage, it usually means they’re busier than usual. It could be a house move, remodeling or simply clearing out the garage. The easier we can make it for people to buy from us, the more likely they are to choose our products and services. This true about boxes and packing supplies as well as unit rentals.

If you can, offer home delivery of purchases for maximum convenience. If that isn’t practical for your business, then offering click-and-collect orders on your self-storage website goes a long way toward making it easy for customers to shop with you.

Another strategy is to include a packing-materials shopping list with each rental quote you send. The list should contain all your retail products and pricing, with space to personalize the recommended quantities for each customer. If you know how much space your prospect needs, you can then estimate how many boxes and other supplies they’ll need to pack and protect their items. Make them aware that they can order simply by returning the list with any amendments, and you can get their order ready for pick up. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Seek Partners

One of the challenges of selling boxes and other packing materials in a self-storage environment is that by the time people come to the facility to sign the rental contract or move in, most have already completed much of their packing. A key to boosting your sales is to find ways to get the word out about your products before people rent storage. Partnering up with other local businesses is a great way to achieve this.

If you know your customer-acquisition cost—that is, the amount you spend on marketing to get one new move-in—you’ll know what kind of deals you can offer that are enticing to prospects but still profitable for the business. For example, let’s say you’re paying $115 per rental on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Any other strategy that brings in a customer for less is a victory.

So, consider giving local realtors and smaller moving companies a stack of vouchers they can give out to their customers. Each entitles the user to $50 in free boxes when they sign a rental agreement with you. This becomes a free value-add for the other business and your mutual customers, plus it costs much less than your PPC campaign. It’s a win-win!

Make Your Environment Sell for You

Having your retail products on exhibit in your self-storage management office or reception area is a must. Just make sure the display doesn’t get stale. Customers who come by often will stop noticing if it always looks the same. So, get creative and change it up every few weeks! It doesn’t have to mean moving all your products around. It can be as simple as adding balloons to your box tower or having an office mascot that you place near a different product every week.

In addition to keeping your display fresh and current, it’s a good idea to place descriptive signs that explain how each product is used to protect stored items. Most people don’t even know mattress covers exist or what size box they need for a specific item. By providing descriptions, you can educate your tenants while they’re looking around your retail store and entice them to make a purchase.

Challenge Your ‘Normal’

Maybe the biggest hurdle of all when we want to boost our self-storage retail sales is our preconceived notions about what is a “normal” or acceptable level of monthly sales. My final tip is to do your best to let go of these notions. Instead, set yourself an ambitious goal, and then get your creativity flowing to reach it!

Christel Land is a business coach, consultant, and experienced sales and marketing trainer. As the founder of Clover Four, she has extensive experience as a self-storage operator and supplier. She regularly speaks at industry conferences and is the author of a book on self-storage sales and customer service. Follow her on X at @selfstoragewalks.

About the Author(s)

Christel Land

Founder, Clover Four

Christel Land is a business coach, consultant and an experienced sales and marketing trainer. As the founder of Clover Four, she has extensive experience working in the self-storage industry as an operator and supplier. She regularly speaks at industry conferences and is the author of a self-storage book on sales and customer service. Follow her on Twitter at @selfstoragewalks.

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