Self-storage operators are often spread thin trying to overcome the competition, market their business, ensure customer satisfaction and stay on top of property maintenance. The busy nature of running a facility can make it difficult to find new ways to earn revenue. Luckily, rental trucks and storage go together like peanut butter and jelly! Not only can a rental truck help you trump your competition and provide customers with a valuable service, it’ll generate additional cash flow.
Don’t eat peanut butter alone. Liven up your facility income with some delicious jelly! Here are 10 ways to promote and maximize your truck-rental program, and ultimately make more money.
Catch the Eye
One of the most important aspects of marketing your truck is its graphics, which are worth some time and investment. They should be vibrant and eye-catching, and include details about your property such as location, website, phone number and even popular features. Spend time with your graphic designer to maximize the representation of your brand.
Once you have your truck handsomely designed, don’t hide it! Simple visibility is excellent marketing. Your truck is a billboard that should be parked where everyone can see it. If your facility isn’t on a key thoroughfare, park your truck on a main road and use it to direct people to your site. You can even ask a local business if you can station the truck in its lot in exchange for a discount on a storage rental.
Just remember that if you want your truck to be highly visible, you need it to be clean and in good working order. A dirty truck would make a poor impression of your business. You want it to be every bit as clean and safe as your actual storage property.
Stay on Message
A critical component to a successful truck-rental program is marketing, and the simplest approach is consistent consumer messaging. For example, you can answer the phone with something like, “ABC Storage, home of the free rental truck … How may I help you?” When you have someone interested in storing, ask how he plans to move his belongings. You can then mention you have a facility truck available. While a truck is a great advantage for all customers, it’s a particularly great closing tool for those who are on the fence about renting.
Maximize Your Rental Time
The most common truck-rental promotion used at self-storage facilities is, “Rent with me, use this truck for free.” But that doesn’t mean you have to lend it to the tenant for a full day. You can offer it for a few hours or a half-day based on the tenant’s unit size. Maybe your customers will be enticed to rent a larger unit to have the truck for a longer duration. If they bring it back late, you can charge a fee!
Charge for Fuel, Amenities
Your facility should enforce a policy that the truck should always be returned fully fueled. If it isn’t, impose a fee.
You can also offer furniture pads and hand trucks for a price. It’s standard practice in the truck-rental industry to charge for these items, and imposing a fee encourages customers to return these items.
Offer Non-Peak Specials
Offering discounts for truck rentals during off-peak times such as mid-week days will encourage more rentals. Consider using a fun slogan to promote the deal—the more creative, the better! “Military Mondays” and “Working Women’s Wednesday” are just a couple that have worked well. Catchy phrases also encourage word-of-mouth advertising that will promote your unique services and referral program.
Target Commercial Tenants
In the self-storage industry, about 20 percent of tenants are businesses that use trucks daily. During slow rental periods, encourage these customers to rent your truck. Sometimes a contractor will need more than one vehicle, so this service can be beneficial to him. Plus, contractors and other commercial tenants tend to be long-term renters. You might even be able to create a custom service for these tenants to use your truck on a regular basis.
Capitalize on Move-Outs
Tenants who are vacating your property are also great candidates for truck rentals, as they have a need to move the contents of their storage units. When their lease comes to an end, simply ask if they need a truck to move out and offer to schedule it. You can price it at normal rental rates. Not only is the onsite delivery of the truck a great service, you’ll make additional revenue and continue to share your brand as they drive the truck to their new location.
Sell Ad Space
Your truck can pay for itself if you sell ad space on the back door. Offer it to local business partners at $100 per spot. You could make as much as $800 per month or more, depending on how many spaces you offer, which offsets your own monthly costs.
Create Staff Incentive
Truck rentals can be very profitable for any facility, large or small. However, the success of your program largely depends on staff. Managers need to maintain the truck, schedule its use, and promote it whenever and however possible. Consider offering extra pay for leasing the truck to people beyond new tenants. They’ll appreciate the additional income, and it’ll motivate them to be more enterprising. Renting out the truck beyond your breakeven point could also be a great benchmark for awarding bonuses to your management or sales team.
Work With Local Organizations
Loan your truck to local organizations and charities that need a temporary vehicle. This not only creates goodwill, it makes more visibility for your business. It could even generate free publicity. Community outreach is a great opportunity to become a staple at local events such as toy and food drives. Having a positive image is a great means of networking and improves company morale. It’s a win-win!
The local chamber of commerce is another great community partner. Local businesses benefit greatly from a rental truck and storage, and partnership with the chamber will help you share information about your facility and services.
Other great groups to target are apartment and realtor associations. Their clients need trucks and storage.
Why eat a boring peanut-butter sandwich? A rental-truck program can be the tasty companion that generates add-on revenue and propels your self-storage business to the next level.
CJ Steen has been the marketing director of On The Move Inc., a provider of rental moving trucks for self-storage and other businesses, for 10 years; though being the founder’s granddaughter, she’s been unofficially involved with the company for far longer. She’s worked in the self-storage industry for 16 years, starting as a facility relief manager. She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Hawaii Pacific University and an MBA from Texas Woman’s University. For more information, call 800.645.9949; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.