By CJ Steen
The truck-rental concept has been around for more than 70 years. It’s an attractive business because it’s fairly simple to implement and manage. To start, you just need a truck, rental insurance and attractive vehicle graphics. There are several companies that make the whole process simple for a self-storage operation of any size, and the start-up costs are very affordable.
Here’s are some simple and unique ways to add or expand a truck-rental program to create a superior profit center.
Truck rentals are an excellent service to offer to your self-storage tenants and a great way to turn extra profit. Renters generally need a truck to move their stuff into their unit. Why not be the one to provide it? It not only benefits your customers, it increases your visibility, occupancy, revenue and competitive edge.
While most operators offer free use of the facility truck to new customers, there are other ways to profit from your program. First and foremost, you can rent the truck to non-tenants for a fee. For both storage and truck-only customers, here are some other income generators:
- Charge for mileage. Many operators offer a set number of miles for free, and then charge 99 cents for each additional.
- Charge an hourly rate beyond an allotted time.
- Apply refueling charges if a tenant fails to gas up.
- Add a cleaning fee if the truck is returned dirty or full of trash.
- Rent out hand trucks and furniture blankets.
While all of these fees are nominal, they can add substantial revenue over time.
Another way to make money with your truck is to rent advertising space on the back door. Divide the door into six to eight spaces and charge $150 to $200 for each. This can offset the cost of your truck if you’re leasing it, cover some of the insurance costs, or just be pure profit.
While the suggestions above are some of the more common ways to profit from a truck-rental program, there’s another opportunity that may be a perfect fit for your facility. Here’s a great example from my own life:
My family recently moved my 98-year-old great-grandmother, Nanny, to an assisted-living facility. Nanny is an amazing woman who lived in the same home her husband built more than 70 years ago. She collected dolls, and her basement contained hundreds of them. We had to rent a truck to donate some of the dolls, store some of the sentimental ones, and even take some to auction. We also hired movers to relocate Nanny’s furniture to her new home. This cost around $300.
After a few months, Nanny had to move to a new room within the assisted-living center. One company had an alliance with the facility to assist in moving residents’ belongings from room to room. This time, it cost $350 to move her things. The movers also have a store where they sell furniture on consignment.
With our aging population, there are significant opportunities for truck rental. According to “GenealogyInTime” magazine, the 2010 census showed a strong increase in the number of people aged 90 to 94 (30 percent) and 95 to 99 (29 percent). With the growth of this group, the need for storage and rental trucks increases. Families tend to downsize when they move their loved ones. Many of these seniors can no longer live at home and need to seek other housing arrangements. They’re in need of movers, self-storage and trucks!
You can turn your rental truck into a mini-moving service for this market. You already have a vehicle! With a mini-move program, you can generate additional profit and increase occupancy. Adding just 10 to 15 mini moves per month is achievable. An hourly rate of $90 is widely accepted, with a minimum of three hours.
To get your program off the ground, form alliances with the senior-living communities in your area by speaking with the business coordinators. Offer discounts for storing at your facility and let them know about your mini-move service. This will not only be an additional revenue center, it can help you rent more units.
You can also consider partnerships with real estate agencies and apartment properties. They’re a great fit for advertising a small moving service along with your storage solutions. Approach furniture shops or antique stores in your community with the opportunity to turn your rental vehicle into their delivery truck. You can offer your truck for their use on days of the week that are slower for storage rentals. Keep in mind, the more your truck is out, the more leads you’ll generate.
One of the biggest benefits of a truck-rental program is, with the right type of graphics, the vehicle advertises itself and your business. On average, your truck will receive 600 visual impressions per mile, so the more it’s on the road, the more leads you’ll get.
Advertise your truck-rental service on all marketing strategies you employ such as your website and brochures. Many operators are successful just by mentioning they have a truck for rent when they answer their phones. Market your truck as much as possible and rent it out at a competitive price that appeals to your local market. Your truck is a moving billboard that can bring in new tenants.
With all the opportunities a truck-rental program affords, it’s an easy solution to increasing facility revenue. Not only will the truck increase your business visibility, it has tremendous potential to be a lucrative profit center.
CJ Steen is the marketing director for 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. She’s been with the company since 2008, but her first job in the self-storage industry was as a relief manager at her parent’s facility. For more information, call 800.645.9949; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.