The next time you’re driving down the highway, take note of how many RVs and boats you see cruising alongside you. Chances are, it’s a lot more than you would’ve seen just a few years ago. Like the self-storage industry, the RV and boat business is booming. Fortunately for storage owners, the two are a match made in heaven. After all, those drivers need somewhere to park their vehicles when they’re not out on the road or water.
Adding boat/RV storage to your self-storage facility will position your property as a solution for these vehicle owners. In addition to offering space to this unique market, you can generate even more revenue through extra services and products. Here’s how to capitalize on RV/boat storage to make your business more profitable than ever.
Building the Space
If you’ve seen how much money goes into acquiring and maintaining a boat or RV, it’s natural to assume that designing storage for these vehicles will come at a steep price, but it doesn’t have to. You can maximize profit by keeping overhead as low as possible.
At its most basic, boat/RV storage is essentially a parking lot with spaces available for rent. If you have extra land you can pave, this is a relatively inexpensive renovation that will guarantee a big return on investment. If you want to take it a step further, offer covered outdoor storage. This typically looks like a stall with a roof and two or three sides. The most luxurious vehicle-storage option calls for installing enclosed units with individual alarms, locks and roll-up doors.
When deciding which option is going to make the most money, it’s natural to assume the least expensive choice is the right one. Given how sparse the availability of RV/boat storage is in most markets, this might be correct. In fact, in areas where storage availability is low, many tenants are willing to pay for their spots year-round, even if they spend most of the year on the road.
That being said, take the time to assess your market. If it’s saturated with RV/boat storage, offering a better solution than the competition will increase your occupancy. If your business is in an area with a lot of luxury vehicles, it’s likely these owners will be on board with spending extra for covered or enclosed units, allowing you to make considerable profit by building and renting them.
Offering Amenities and Services
There are a number of valuable services you can offer to RV/boat owners, either for a fee, as a justification for higher rent, or showcased as part of your marketing program. For example, a vehicle-wash bay will be a welcome sight to tenants who’ve just spent time on the long and dusty road. Similar services include propane sales, or air and water stations.
One service that can generate extra revenue at no cost is 24-hour access. Many RV/boat owners are eager to get an early start and beat the traffic or would love to come home late from a weekend of camping but are unable because of strict facility hours. You’ll be surprised by how many tenants are willing to pay extra for the luxury of coming and going as they please.
Additional services you can offer at an extra cost include printing and faxing services (great for those on the road), concierge or shuttle service, and electricity and lighting in units. Some operators even partner with local mechanics to provide vehicle maintenance to tenants.
You should also offer some free amenities, such as a clubhouse with restrooms, or complimentary ice and water. While you can make extra money by charging for most services, it’s important to remember your greatest source of profit will be customer loyalty. RV/boat storage is one of the more expensive types of storage, so if your facility is in great shape and your service is excellent, your spaces will remain occupied.
Selling Related Products
RVs and boats require a lot of upkeep. You can save your tenants a trip to the store by selling them essential products, such as RV antifreeze, vehicle covers, compressed air, fifth-wheel locks and cleaning supplies. These items can help them winterize their vehicles for off-season storage or spruce them up once spring rolls around. You can also sell bug repellent, coolers, sunscreen, snacks and other items that might come in handy on a camping, fishing or road trip.
If you’re unsure which products to sell, familiarize yourself with topics like the process of winterizing an RV or boat, basic vehicle maintenance, and desirable RV/boat upgrades. Knowing this will not only maximize your retail profit but will allow customers to see you as an authority on RV/boat storage. This, in turn, will make them more likely to continue giving you their business.
If you’ve never offered RV or boat storage before or you’re planning to introduce new services like 24-hour access, a vehicle wash station or an onsite retail outlet, make sure your new and existing customers know about it. Advertise specific features by using signage outside of your facility, and share photos and information on your facility website and social media channels. Consider offering specials to customers who find out about your facility online, especially if the off-season is approaching.
Whatever type of storage you choose to offer, and whatever additional services and products you tap into to generate revenue, you can rest assured you’ll be offering a highly coveted service to your tenants. RV/boat storage is in serious demand, so get ahead of the game by providing it first and doing it better. Your customers will consider you their one-stop-shop. As a result, your profit will cruise ahead.
Krista Diamond is a staff writer for StorageFront, which allows self-storage customers to custom search and compare thousands of facilities. She’s a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and lives in Las Vegas. When she isn't writing about storage, she’s climbing mountains in the desert. For more information, visit www.storagefront.com.