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The Rise of RV and Boat Ownership: How Can Your Self-Storage Business Benefit?

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If you’re seeing more boats and RVs on the road, you’re not alone. Sales of these “toys” are on the rise. Find out how your self-storage business can benefit from offering this service.

There are seven homes on my block with RVs either parked in the driveway or in the backyard. Seven. On just one block. A year ago, only three of these residences had these massive motorhomes. One of my neighbors spent several weeks this year adding a huge gate and canopy for his mega RV.

Fortunately for these residents, we don’t live in a neighborhood with restrictive policies, so they can park their toys at home. Many RV and boat owners aren’t as lucky. They need a safe place for these vehicles when not on the road or the water. Why shouldn’t it be your self-storage facility?

Interest in RVs and boats has grown since the pandemic began. RV shipments in 2021 are expected to reach more than half a million units, nearly a 24% increase over the previous year. Similarly, boat sales reached a 13-year high last year. When you think about it, boats and RVs are the ultimate way to social distance!

Offering vehicle storage can greatly benefit your self-storage business. These premium spaces typically rent higher than a traditional unit, and there’s a huge demand for the service in many markets. These tenants often stay longer and are good customers who pay on time because they have no intention of their unit going into auction status. Many will even rent a climate-controlled unit to store their vacation gear. Plus, offering more ancillary services and products will help your facility rise above the competition.

So how can you capitalize on the RV and boat craze? First, you need to determine if your market is actually a good fit for the service. Properties near highways, recreation areas and bodies of water do well with this product. Even if your property doesn’t fall into one of these categories, your market could still be prime for it.

Just like you wouldn’t add a new storage building without doing some research, you shouldn’t guess on this endeavor either. You need to know if there’s demand for boat and RV storage in your area. Hiring someone to conduct a feasibility study can determine this.

If your market is a go, you then need to decide what kind of vehicle storage to offer. There are many options, from a simple, uncovered parking area on gravel, grass or dirt area; to adding pavement and covered parking. Another option is a building dedicated to boat and RV storage. These units are larger and have bigger unit doors. Furthermore, you can increase your revenue for outdoor parking by adding solar canopies. There are even rebates and other incentives that can assist you with the construction costs.

Vehicle storage isn’t a new concept, but it is becoming more refined. And more complicated. Take this operator who posted a thread on Self-Storage Talk about fielding calls in March from people who were seeking storage for their boats this summer. These spots fill up quickly, especially in markets where there’s great demand.

Boat- and RV-storage renters also have very different needs than those who choose traditional storage spaces. Many prefer to store at facilities that offer extended access hours and more amenities such as wash bays and dump stations. Security is definitely a priority for these renters, so if your site is lacking, you’ll need to make some adjustments.

If you do plan to add this profit center to your business, you also need to make sure you cover your legal and insurance bases. This includes adjustments to the rental agreement, your business insurance and how you handle lien sales.

Much like any business venture, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. If you have excess land that’s not generating any revenue or if you’re constructing a new site, consider vehicle storage. There’s one certainly: More people are purchasing boats and RVs, and many will need a place to park them.

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