About 10 miles northwest of San Antonio, near my office, is a business that’s been around for more than 30 years. The Flagstop Café, which is also a convenience store and gas station, has become a local landmark. With “Flagstop” painted on its metal roof, facing the highway, everyone sees it and knows where it is. It has a competitive advantage!
Just like the Flagstop and every other business, a self-storage facility must differentiate itself to be noticed in a competitive market. Sometimes all it takes is a catchy name to get people to remember you, or maybe your business known in the community for your charity work or donations. Whatever it is that puts you on peoples’ radar, you need to capitalize on it before someone else beats you to the punch.
A truck-rental program can give your self-storage facility a distinct marketing edge. When people rent storage, they’re going to need a truck, moving pads and hand carts to move their items. If your competitors aren’t offering rental trucks and you are, you’ll stand out as a value-add provider. When you offer them a one-stop-shop, they’ll appreciate it because you anticipated their needs while providing excellent customer service. Following are several other benefits a truck-rental program can yield.
Imagine your rental truck, wrapped in your company’s logo and other graphics, parked in front of your facility or rolling around town. This improves your brand presence in your community! Your “moving billboard” will be noticed as it moves down the road making 600 visual impressions per mile. If customers need to rent a truck, they might as well rent one from you, and it’s an opportunity to market your brand.
If you love to give back to your community, why not do so while promoting your brand? Since most of your customers will likely move their items during evenings and weekends, outside of regular work hours, your rental truck is likely to be available during the day. It’s in your best interest to keep the truck moving down the road and seen.
Why not loan it out to local organizations like the chamber of commerce, churches and schools? They’d probably jump at the chance to use it to move tables and chairs, donations, or other goods. Maybe a local group is sponsoring a turkey drive for Thanksgiving. Why not let it use your truck to collect donations? It shows you care about your community, and you can’t buy that kind of advertising.
Many real estate agents have their own branded moving trucks they loan to customers who just purchased or sold a home. Some even sell ad space on the truck’s back door to their partners, such as bank lenders, title companies, staging companies, etc. You can do the same with your self-storage truck: Sell ad space to your bank, landscaper, attorney, etc. They’d likely be willing to pay $150 to $300 per month for an ad on your new shiny billboard!
That back door is prime advertising space. When a customer driving your truck stops at an intersection, the folks behind him will read the door. Advertisers know that. A couple hundred bucks per month for exposure like that is a drop in the bucket for a lot of companies. If you play your cards right, you could end up with a truck paid for by your advertisers. (Quick note: I suggest you have them purchase and pay annually so you don’t have to collect monthly.)
I’m a firm believer in a barter system. Consider bartering use of your rental truck for products and services you need. For example, offer a local mechanic ad space on your truck’s back door in exchange for free oil changes and wiper blades. If you sometimes like to offer free pizza to tenants as they move in, consider a similar exchange with a local pizza parlor. These are fun ways to get the word out about you and your partners. Again, you’re trying to stand out in the crowd, so anything you can do to stick in people’s minds will give you an edge.
What You’re Missing
Of course, the main reason to offer a truck-rental program is to generate more revenue and increase your facility value. The next time one of your customers asks if you have a truck he can use, think about all you could be missing: additional income, customer convenience and loyalty, community goodwill, better marketing, bartering opportunities, and more.
Our industry is becoming increasingly more competitive. Your self-storage facility may look like every other in your area, so you need to find your own special advantage that separates you from the crowd. A truck-rental program may be the answer. Aim to be the Flagstop in your market!
Tim Moranz has been an account executive at On The Move Inc. for more than four years. He specializes in helping self-storage owners increase revenue and facility value with dynamic marketing tools. Based in Boerne, Texas, On The Move 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.