By Jacquelyn Nash
A self-storage facility without a rental truck is like a dog without a bone! A dog will survive without a bone. However, when you give him one, he just naturally knows what to do with it. Similarly, a storage facility can survive without a rental truck, but it’s a natural fit for the business to have one.
Rental trucks help self-storage operators increase revenue, occupancy and brand recognition. It’s also simple to implement this service at any facility, large or small. Here are a few things to consider when creating a truck-rental program.
There are two options for offering truck rentals. First, you can rent a truck to anyone who wants to move anywhere in the country. This is often called a one-way rental. A customer will come to your location to rent the truck, but the vehicle won’t be returned to your property.
If this is the option you’re considering, you may want to dedicate a specific phone and computer to the venture. You’ll also need a designated parking area to house multiple trucks of varying sizes. One-way rentals offer a revenue stream, since you’ll receive a commission on each rental.
The second option is to provide local rentals. This is where you have a designated facility truck that’s always available to your customers. You’ll be able to set the rates for your moves and even brand the truck to match your facility.
Local rentals are an additional revenue source that doubles as a marketing medium, since you can advertise right on the vehicle. You can also offer free use of the truck as an incentive to anyone who moves in instead of a discount on the rental rate.
Buy or Lease?
If you’ve decided to add a local rental-truck business to your facility, the next consideration is whether to buy or lease. The benefits of leasing sometimes outweigh those of buying when you consider the advantageous leasing options provided by some vendors. There can be flexible options at the end of the lease such as purchasing the vehicle, extending the lease or turning it in. There’s often a set purchase price at the end of a lease that allows for lower monthly payments that are deductible as a monthly business expense. Accounting issues are also avoided when leasing because you don’t have to maintain depreciation tables and mileage records. Some of leases even offer unlimited mileage.
If you prefer to purchase your truck, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Dealerships may be willing to negotiate with you on price if you’re paying cash.
- Your truck will be an asset you’ll be able to depreciate. Plus, interest on your loan may be deductible.
- When shopping, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Various features will affect the final price.
- Some important features to look for include a reinforced fiberglass box and a loading ramp.
There are some other important aspects to consider including insurance, the rental agreement, wrap design and marketing. Let’s take a look at each.
Insurance. Whether you buy or lease your truck, it’ll need to be insured. With the significant investment you’ve made, it’s recommended you contact a rental-truck insurance specialist to find out what programs are available.
When you call your insurance agent, let him know you plan on renting your truck to the general public. If the company can offer you this type of coverage, make sure your limits fully protect you above and beyond the value of the truck. This type of liability generally requires $5 million in coverage. Keep the age of the renter in mind when binding coverage. Twenty-one years of age and older is recommended.
Rental agreement. To provide a truck to the general public, you need to protect yourself by creating an agreement between you and the renter. Check your state’s regulations and guidelines when preparing the paperwork and submit it to your legal counsel. Also make sure your insurance carrier approves the verbiage.
These forms should be printed in triplicates of the document so you can provide one to your renter, give one to your insurance carrier in the event of a claim and keep one for your own records. There are some companies that have done the legwork on applicable forms in all 50 states, so check with your truck vendor or attorney for examples.
Wrap design. Hire a professional designer to create a branded message for your “mobile billboard.” Long-term 3M film, known and trusted worldwide, is highly recommended. Ask for a UV over-laminate to protect against scuffs and chemicals.
Take the time to perfect your design. This truck will be representative of the facility image you want to portray to the public. Your graphic design should include your logo, phone number, website, location and some of the amenities you offer at your facility. With all of these characteristics, you’ll have your own rolling billboard generating daily leads for your facility. Trucks get 600 visual impressions for every mile driven.
Marketing. To get the most from your investment, your truck should be mentioned on all facility marketing materials, including your business cards, fliers, website and other advertisements. Always have your truck spotless, since it represents your business. If your truck is kept clean and in good working order, future customers will assume your facility is clean and well-kept as well.
Another helpful tool is to create fliers that notify businesses your truck is available for commercial use. You could even give discounted rates to companies that have better visibility than your facility. If they allow you to park your truck at their business, you’ll have more visual impressions every day.
Now that you have an idea of what’s involved in starting a truck-rental program, you can see it’s pretty easy to implement. There are several companies willing to simplify the process for you. Call a truck-rental specialist to learn more about its programs and what they can do for you.
Jacquelyn Nash is an account executive at On The Move Inc., which offers a complete truck-rental program that includes a vehicle, insurance/license, graphics, and all the products necessary for this ancillary profit center. For more information, call 800.645.9949; visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.