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Plan a Self-Storage Summer Event That Sizzles

Summer is the perfect time for self-storage operators to host events that draw new customers, show appreciation to current tenants and get them involved in their communities. In this article, operators share their secrets to successful event planning.

July 26, 2015

5 Min Read
Plan a Self-Storage Summer Event That Sizzles

By Liz Wolf

Reprinted with permission fromThe Storage Facilitator” blog.

Summer is the perfect time for self-storage operators to host events that draw new customers, show appreciation to current tenants and get them involved in their communities. In this article, operators share their secrets to successful event planning.

When Michelle Bakva plans an event for a StorQuest Self Storage facility, she tries to think beyond the traditional yard sales or barbecues. While StorQuest has successfully executed the a gamut of traditional summer parties, teaming up with local or regional charities have proven the most successful for the company, says Bakva, vice president of marketing for The William Warren Group, which operates the StorQuest brand.

In the past, the storage operator has partnered with an organization that hosts surfing events for paraplegics. One is held at the beach directly across from StorQuest’s headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.

“It’s a really a cool opportunity. It’s more of a team-building thing, but also a great opportunity to get our name out there. We’ll go with our StorQuest-branded t-shirts, set up a small tent on the beach, and give out StorQuest water bottles and temporary tattoos,” Bakva says. “There are about 100 people living with paralysis that come to these events, and we get our employees to participate. It gives us the opportunity to brand ourselves outside the confines of our self-storage facilities.”

StorQuest also partners with an organization in Northern California that cleans up beaches. Periodically, a group of employees will meet at a beach wearing StorQuest t-shirts and help clean up the coastline.

“While our goal is to generate activity [for our facilities] with these events, if you remove that out of the equation and say, really our goal is to help the community, do something for a good cause and empower our employees, then everything else starts to fall into place better than just focusing so much on customer acquisition,” Bakva says.

Cross-Market Your Events

It’s also important to branch out into the community and form partnerships with organizations that can cross-promote and cross-market events, Bakva says. “That’s where you see the best return. Instead of just marketing a garage sale at ‘so-and-so self-storage,’ partner with a pet shelter and do an adoption event. That organization will promote you and use their resources and online presence,” she says.

You can then capitalize on those opportunities. Post the event on your Facebook page and social media outlets as well as your website. “Take lots of photos. Make sure any companies you partner with get those photos and put them through their channels. Local branding and recognition go a long way,” Bakva says.

LifeStorage LP uses cross-marketing for its summer “Cruise Nights” happening. LifeStorage facilities that have large parking areas invite car and motorcycle clubs to show off their antique or souped-up cars, says Michelle Wight-Sands, director of operations for the Roseville, Calif.-based company.

The storage operator advertises the weekly Cruise Nights on its websites and through social media outlets, while the clubs pay for newspaper and magazine ads. “They take care of it all. We’re just providing them that space,” Sands says. “It drives a lot of people to your facility, gives you the opportunity to get out and talk to the public and offer fliers, and just bring that exposure to your facility.”

LifeStorage’s garage sales—where tenants and non-tenants can sell their wares—are quite successful and can be great leads for new customers. The storage facility provides units and tables, and markets the events on its website, via social media, on local chamber websites and in newspapers and magazines. “We have lines of customers waiting outside for the doors to open,” Wight-Sands says.

Highlight Your Best Features

When planning events this summer, showcase your best attributes, says Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and developmental services at Universal Storage Group, an Atlanta-based self-storage management company. “What makes you unique or different? For example, maybe you’re not one of the super-cool new facilities with all the bells and whistles, but you’re a solid operation with the widest drive aisles in town,” Ballard says.

Operators with space can host a child-seat safety check, pet-adoption event or yard sale, and hand out cold water bottles with their logo. “Or maybe the fire department comes and teaches kids how to ‘stop, drop and roll’ or some other community service that would showcase your wide drive aisles,” Ballard says.

Or if you rent the only climate-controlled units in your market, have all of your promotional materials and social media focus on, “Come and chill out with us on the weekends,” Ballard says. These “chill out” gatherings could include giveaways such as popsicles, watermelons or logo-bearing water bottles. Or you could team up with a snow-cone vendor or ice cream company to hand out free treats to anyone who stops by your facility.

Summer events don’t have to cost much, either. The best way to keep the tab low is to team up with retailers, restaurants and other local businesses, Ballard advises.

Marc Goodin, president of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Storage Authority Franchising, has hosted all kinds of summer events, including high school carwashes and Saturday cookouts. The key to a successful even is to be creative.

“How about a Friday night wine and fruit tasting?” he says. Other ideas include asking a local celebrity or politician to stop by, or offer promotions such as “rent today and get a free pass to a local amusement park.”

Whether you’re looking to entice new customers or show appreciation to existing tenants, a summer cookout, yard sale or car show could be just the thing. Consider what your facility has to offer, find a community or charity partner, and then host a crowd-pleasing party that will bring the right attention.

Liz Wolf is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities area. She's a frequent contributor to "The Storage Facilitator."

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