By Chuck Upshaw
There sits the pride and joy of your self-storage facility: a sleek, new box truck wrapped in three-color graphics announcing to the world (or at least the neighborhood) that you’ve arrived. You meticulously park it for the highest visibility from the street and reap the rewards when it’s out on rent or loaned to new tenants, who are increasing your facility occupancy. But don’t stop there!
Expecting your truck to advertise your business is only half the equation. By also marketing your truck availability, you complete the loop, allowing each element to complement the other with a synergy greater than the individual parts. Here are some methods used by other storage operators to actively market their trucks so their trucks market for them in return.
Buying and Wrapping Your Vehicle
Using vehicles to promote a brand is nothing new. Once you've seen a ServPro commercial on TV, you start recognizing their trucks around town. Have you seen the Mini Cooper with the Red Bull energy-drink promo? And there's no mistaking that brown UPS van. By using your truck in all of your marketing and advertising, you increase recognition of the vehicle in the community. And isn’t visibility in the market what it’s all about? If you haven’t already acquired a truck for your self-storage business—or wrapped it with your marketing message—here are a few tips to get the most out of this investment.
Consider the vehicle that best suits your needs. A box truck with a single fiberglass skin provides a smooth, glossy finish without seams or rivets to get in the way of your graphics. Also, you won’t experience the splintering that may happen with age. Self-storage operators have found the 14-foot truck model is the one that works best. It’s simple to maneuver within the facility, and most customers find them easier to drive than larger trucks.
Have a clean design with large, bold lettering. Your truck could be the first impression a prospective tenant gets of your business, but most people viewing your truck won’t have much time to see the message. If they’re traveling at highway speeds, it may only be seconds.
When selecting a company to design and apply your graphics, look for professionals. You want a company with designers who understand your message and can project your image favorably. Ask to see their portfolio of work. If the majority of their samples consist of flames, skulls and lettering written with lightning bolts, you may want to continue looking.
Discuss with the designer the primary focus of your graphics. Do you want the viewer to concentrate on your address, phone number or website? Are you aiming to increase foot traffic or drive visitors to your website? A professional designer knows how to use text in different colors and styles to draw attention to the various elements of your graphics.
Consider the wrap materials. High-quality film with a UV over-laminate will protect against scuffs, chemicals and the damaging effects of the sun. Check to see if the graphics company is certified in the application of the film by the manufacturer. This demonstrates that they know how to apply the wrap per the film manufacturer’s specifications.
Starting a Marketing Program
Now that you have your truck wrapped and ready to rent, where should you advertise it? Harrisonville Self Storage in Harrisonville, Mo., features its truck on the facility website with the message, “Home of the free moving truck.” But the truck really markets itself, according to facility manager Jamie McMorris. “It’s a billboard on wheels,” he says.
Since incorporating the truck into its advertising efforts, the property has seen an increase in occupancy. “Our customers can use our truck for free when moving into our facility. This is a huge convenience for them. The truck is a great selling point for us and always seals the deal,” McMorris says.
Consider including your truck's image on business cards, invoices, point-of-sale marketing material, print ads and fliers. Don’t forget to market your vehicle on all your social media platforms such as your website, Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also include a link to a short YouTube video of your vehicle and all its features, such as a hand truck and furniture pads included with each rental.
“We market our moving trucks and other move-in specials through direct-mail advertisements, website advertisements and verbally when customers call in to inquire about renting a unit,” says Lex Wilson, vice president of real estate for Lampe Management Co., which manages 60 self-storage properties in North Carolina. “Over the past few years since we added the free truck as a move-in special, we’ve seen the use of our trucks skyrocket at all of our properties, which means we’re renting more units. Customers love the fact that since we have a truck, it’s so much more convenient than going elsewhere to rent one.”
Lending your truck to a local charity is another great way to market it and build goodwill within your community. Try approaching a local nonprofit organization or even a school and make your truck available for free use at fundraising events, food drives and seasonal events. They’ll appreciate your gesture, and you’ll get some great marketing by having your truck at these events.
Finally, you need look no further than your own office personnel for help in marketing your truck. Incentivize your managers to come up with suggestions. They can be very creative! They might drive the truck to make bank deposits, run errands or even participate in a local parade. To get the most out of your efforts, market your truck, and the truck will market for you.
Chuck Upshaw is a sales associate 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.