Low occupancy getting you down? Every storage owner is concerned about occupancy, and nothing is worse than having large units sit empty month after month. Hard-to-fill units exist across all markets, and no storage facility is immune to vacancy issues. Whether you recently built a new facility and you’re ready to fill your units, or you’re just going through a slow season and hoping to boost your numbers, these 11 creative ideas can help you bring in more renters and fill your vacant units. Read on to get those units filled up!

1. Bring in rentals before you even open your doors

If you’re getting ready to celebrate your grand opening in a few months, there is a lot you can do now to bring in renters before you even finish construction and open your facility to the public. If you don’t already have a high-performing marketing website for your business, nab one now to start bringing in online rentals and reservations. Then, when people search for self storage online in your area, they’ll instantly see your bright, shiny, and new facility in search results and be able to hold a space for a future date.

2. Give away gift cards for tenant referrals

Everyone loves getting Amazon Gift Cards - seriously, just ask anyone you know! Offer your trusted tenants a $50 - $100 gift card (or e-gift card) for every successful renter referral. If your renter is new to the area and has a great experience, they’ll likely tell their coworkers, friends, and family about it, and recommend you to their realtor. Even if the renter eventually leaves your facility and is no longer a customer, you can still give them a referral gift. You can bring in lots of new tenants who you know are likely to pay on time and be trustworthy using small (but meaningful) referral gifts like gift cards.

3. Boost your search engine ranking with PPC

If you’re on the second page of search results, you’re probably buried under your competition for important queries like “self storage + your zip code.” Your community might not even know you’re there! To give your search results an instant boost, you can pay for Google Ads, commonly referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) ads. These ads show up almost just like search results, and depending on what you pay, will temporarily bring your website listing to the top spot for your queries of choice. In the meantime, keep working on improving your site’s content and making your website more user-friendly to increase your organic search rankings. (Check out these five tips for more fast ways to improve your search engine ranking!)

A person pouring a cup of coffee at a diner.

4. Reach out to beloved local businesses

Does your town have a coffee shop that everyone loves? One of the only drive-in movie theaters in the state? A local diner that’s the go-to hang out for community residents? One of the easiest ways to build trust and credibility as a new business is to partner with a thriving local business that has already established a strong customer base in your community. Ask them about running a promotion together or offering coupons for their business in your office. It’s a win-win: you’ll give them more business, and they’ll help spread the word about your new facility, too.

5. Offer a free month of rent

One of the most common ways storage owners get new renters in the door is with first month free or dollar rental promotions. The average length of stay for a self storage tenant is between six and 12 months. Giving a new tenant a great deal on their first month’s rent will, on average, bring in greater profits than not offering a deal, based on the average lifetime value (ALV) of a customer at your facility.

A couple camping out under a starry night sky.

6. Market your RV and boat parking spaces

No matter what time of the year it is, RV and boat storage and parking spaces are a hot commodity. If you’ve got recreational areas, state parks, camping grounds, lakes, and rivers near your facility, you’re in a prime location to market your storage spaces to boaters, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts who have large recreational toys. Boost the value of your RV and boat units by attending the local boat or great outdoors show, discussing co-marketing opportunities with nearby boat and RV repair shops, and meeting other outdoor enthusiasts in your area. Don’t forget to add content about your RV and boat parking and storage to your website to help prospective renters find you online.

7. Get seasonal with your promotions

No matter what time of the year you’re opening your facility, there are plenty of ways to cash in on seasonal nostalgia, events, and shopping deals. If you’re opening in the spring, your units will likely fill up faster than any time of year. Why? Spring cleaning, of course! If you’re opening up in summer, you can hook onto holiday deals during Fourth of July or Memorial Day sales and fill up your temperature-controlled units, or host a summer barbecue/open house in your parking lot. If you experience harsh, freezing winters, offering deals on warm climate-controlled storage spaces will help you bring in renters during the cold months of the year, too. Get more ideas on how to promote your facility based on the season you’re opening in this blog post.

A pristine University football field in the fall.

8. Market your facility to nearby colleges and universities

If your facility is in a college town, don’t miss out on your opportunity to rent storage units to the college student market. Whether students are moving out of the dorms and needing a space to store their stuff over the summer, or parents want a secure place for students to park their vehicles near campus, your facility can capitalize on your location close to the action. Students are always looking for affordable storage, and you can be the solution they’re looking for. Optimize your website’s content to help you show up for relevant search queries like “self storage near Dakota State University,” “student storage in Madison, SD,” or “secure parking near DSU.” By creating a page on your website that’s catered to students of your local college, you’ll be able to position yourself as the go-to self storage place for university students and staff.

9. Optimize rentals from drive-by traffic

As a new storage business, you’ll be garnering a lot of attention from passersby. Those that drive by your property every day on their way to work have probably been wondering for months what the new construction will lead to, and now they can finally check it out. If you’re in an area with lots of drive-by traffic, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a big, visible sign that’s in good shape and includes your website address (or even your “starting at” rates!) to instantly grab the attention of interested drivers. Don’t underestimate the power of curb appeal when it comes to attracting drive-by traffic. Put your best foot forward by keeping your lawn and ditch tidy, updating landscape and fencing, cleaning up trash or litter, painting fresh lines on the parking lot, and touching up any paint on buildings showing signs of wear.

A spooky Jack O' Lantern and hand lamp under a full moon.

10. Sponsor something charitable

Getting involved in local charity events or creating a new tradition in your town by hosting a charity event of your own is a great way to build rapport with your community and get your name out there. In fact, storage facilities make great community gathering places for events, with large parking lots, lots of empty space, and plenty of security. If you’re a fan of Halloween like me, host a haunted house where all proceeds go to charity! Storage facilities make fantastic event spaces for haunted houses - lead your guests through a spooky maze in your facility, down the halls of climate controlled buildings where creepy characters can jump out from units, and invite food trucks to your parking lot during the event. Host a toy drive to collect presents for children and families who are struggling around the holidays, or work with your local Red Cross chapter to host a blood drive in your parking lot and hand out baked goods to all who donate. If breast cancer awareness is close to your heart, host a mobile mammography screening unit at your facility every October and ask employees to wear the pink ribbon.

11. Offer a free move-in truck with storage unit rentals

If you’re looking for a unique promotion to fill your units fast, offering a free moving truck is a great way to bring in more renters. Giving away moving truck rentals with unit rentals gives your tenants a great 2-for-1 deal, and can give you a big advantage over your competition. This promotion works especially well in spring and summer when moving is most popular. You don’t even have to own moving trucks to offer this deal - you can partner with a local company who offers moving trucks! Check out this blog post for the complete guide to moving trucks before running your promotion, and don’t forget to reach out to your local realtors and apartment buildings to let them know about the deal.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this blog post, you may also like: How to optimize your tenant’s rental experience, How to handle a price increase, and Protecting your customers’ data in a phishy world.