When it comes time to lease up a new or failing self storage facility, every manager knows the basics: You lower prices and post on aggregator sites. You up your social media game, make sure you have a website and get some banner ads out on the web. You might even implement a customer referral program or offer a free truck with each rental. But is that it? Is that really all there is to leasing up a storage facility?
It can be. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s always room for innovation. Here are three out-of-the-box ideas we’ve found for filling up a property with too many empty units:
- Get referrals from local groups and businesses.
It’s great to have a normal customer referral program, but don’t forget to do a little B2B action as well. Talk to local moving companies, for example, and offer them a small referral bonus for any customers they send your way. Seek out nearby schools, churches, apartment complexes – anyone who might have patrons in need of some extra space. Colleges are excellent, with students often needing storage over the summer when they return home. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. You probably know your area as well as anyone – find that marketing niche that no one else has thought of.
- Find alternative uses for your space.
Self storage doesn’t have to be just your typical clutter and between-houses storage space. More and more storage facilities are offering unique uses for their space, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. If you have climate-controlled units, you’ve already got the perfect space for wine storage. Or you could let local bands practice in their units. (It beats the parents’ garage, I’m sure.) Or use your space to host local art exhibits. You can get really crazy and not bother renting out your units at all – MakeSpace, for example, is a company that’s seen great success renting out space in smaller increments, forgoing the usual business model to stack boxes in their warehouse and consolidate all their customers into a single area.
You probably have a lot of space outside of your units as well. Don’t be shy about using your parking and pathways to your benefit by hosting local events, such as a recycling center, a community sourced agriculture drop-off point or a swap meet. You have one thing everybody wants – space – so use it to your advantage wherever possible.
- Use new apps and technology.
There are all kinds of new technologies out there – it seems like a new one pops up every minute. And that’s true even in the self storage industry. There are now apps to offer customers all sorts of conveniences: they can open the gate – or even their own unit – right from their phone, for example, and there are many ways to simplify the rental process or customer communications. Zendesk is just one of a host of technologies available to streamline customer service.
Or for a really unique idea, you could offer your customers free unlimited cloud storage, so they can store a lot more than just their physical stuff at your facility. A feature like that can go a long way to making your property stand out from the rest of the pack.
What are your out-of-the-box ideas?
These are just a few ideas we’ve found and like. But everyone has their own unique experience and their own unique approach to the storage business.
When it comes to leasing up a facility, what innovative methods have you used or seen used? Let us know in the comments below!
Tim Schlee is a writer and market researcher for VaultDrop. VaultDrop helps self-storage companies increase rentals, revenue, and referrals by giving them the technology to offer customers unlimited free cloud storage for life with their self-storage rentals. Studies have shown that customers prefer free cloud storage to more costly promotions like free rent.