We’ve all heard the old adage about the four Ds of self storage - death, divorce, dislocation, and...wait, what’s the last one again? Wikipedia says it’s downsizing, while others argue that it’s density - the difficulty of living in an urban environment where space is hard to find. Publications like Bloomberg claim that the fourth D is for disaster - tenants going through a hard time due to an unforeseen event like a fire or a damaging hurricane. Overall, the four (or six?) Ds are pretty gloomy - they argue that people don’t ever intend for their stuff to end up in a storage unit. The four Ds can also be a bit limiting. Are all of your tenants going through a hardship? Probably not.
With the way self storage has exploded in the United States, do we even need the four Ds anymore? Truthfully, they’re a little outdated. Maybe renters in the 70s were mainly divorcees whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes, but nowadays, that’s just not the case. Many renters are running an online store out of their storage unit, storing file cabinets of old business data, keeping their RV protected from the elements, or collecting items for annual charity events.
So what other life events are triggering the need for a storage unit in your community? You know your target market and your community best - use that power to optimize your marketing strategies and create a strong business model. Need some ideas to get started? Read on to find out common life events that drive people to store their stuff and how your storage business can help them find you when they need space.
Here comes the bride - and all of her furniture, too. Marriage is a popular time to seek out a storage unit. Couples often begin their home search or move in together when they get engaged or married, and after doing so, the need to sell, declutter, donate, or trash duplicate items becomes more pressing. If you’re in a city with a hot real estate market, this is especially true: the more expensive homes are, the smaller a starter home will be. And the smaller the home, the more selective couples have to be about what makes the cut into their new space. His St. Pauli Girl neon beer sign will go into storage with her twin bed, and a trying to make an old sectional fit the new space becomes a difficult game of Tetris.
Do you know realtors who routinely sell starter homes? Having an in with a real estate agent is a win-win for self storage facilities. Whether a couple is newly married and buying their first home or they’re looking to sell an old property, a real estate agent’s recommendation of your storage facility for their extra stuff is great marketing, and it will help you reach renters at this transitional life stage.
If you don’t know any real estate agents in the area, now is the time to start making connections. Ask friends and family for realtor recommendation in your area, then reach out. Networking is huge in real estate, so don’t be shy - set up a meeting to introduce yourself and offer a mutually beneficial relationship in which you recommend the realtor, and they recommend your storage biz. By having a professional website and great amenities, you’ll make it an easy choice for the realtor to recommend you to their clients.
Moving trends are always changing, but if your city or region is currently seeing an influx of people - like what’s happening right now in the Pacific Northwest - it could be a great time to capitalize on newcomers who need a place to store their stuff. If you’ve ever moved across the country for a new career or opportunity, you know how tough it is to learn the ins and outs of the city before choosing a place that’s safe, affordable, and convenient for you and your stuff to live. Navigating the area, learning shortcuts on your commute, and finding your go-to businesses for groceries, dry cleaning, and dental work can be a pain. Whether newcomers to your area are retirees, college students, or young families, there’s a lot to learn about the area, and your facility can help by offering some expert local knowledge.
Be a guide to newcomers in your area with local-focused content on your website, like a moving guide for your city or how-to tips for packing items to withstand your area’s weather. Add helpful information about where renters can find nearby boxes and moving supplies, how to prepare a car to withstand a tough winter (or summer) in your area, and things to watch out for during their move. A great way to build trusted content on your storage website is through local links from other reputable local businesses. By establishing yourself as a local expert online and making connections with realtors, you’ll be able to help your new neighbors have a smooth moving experience.
Children can also trigger people to downsize - whether you need to make extra space in a small studio apartment, or you’re turning your old home office space into a nursery, all that stuff has to go somewhere. From large items like bookcases and bedroom sets, to small stuff like record collections and old textbooks, creating a space for children in your home requires a little organizing, purging, and decluttering. Your storage facility can lend a hand by offering a simple, temporary solution to new parents who are too busy to hold a garage sale and don’t want to simply throw their old stuff away.
Have a strong web presence that shows up in a quick Google search and offer great customer service. When tenants are busy and life is chaotic, they want a no questions asked, high-quality rental experience. By building a terrific website and streamlining online move-ins and reservations for tenants, they’ll be able to rent a space for their extra clutter fast. They might also want a little extra convenience, like 24-hour access, wifi, clean restrooms, and helpful customer service. Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile to make renting a unit a pleasant experience for your tenants - simply offering ice cold water to people moving in on a hot day can create a fantastic customer service experience.
What’s the first business you can think of that can be run out of a storage unit? The truth is, the possibilities are almost endless. A storage unit can be an eBay store for an online reseller, a safe place to store tools for a contractor, a medical records filing solution for a local hospital, or even a place to give guitar lessons part-time. It’s often more affordable to rent a small storage unit than a warehouse or office space, and your facility’s amenities might be perfect for local small business owners.
Small business owners and commercial tenants love amenities. If you already have fantastic business tenant amenities, great! Highlight them on your website, and make sure you’re including keywords for business storage solutions in your area. Remember: Climate control, pest control, and top-notch security are an expectation for business renters - you’ll need to wow them with amenities that go above and beyond. Consider adding amenities like interior lighting, outlets, 24-hour access, package and mail delivery acceptance, scanning, printing, and faxing services, wifi, and meeting rooms. If you’re building or renovating a facility in an area with a strong commercial presence, consider adding large doors and loading docks that make it easy for commercial tenants to unload equipment. If your storage facility is near a strip mall, office space, hospital, or small business, reach out to let them know you offer secure, affordable business storage that’s just down the road from their space. You can make storing with you an easy choice by getting a local business owner’s stamp of approval and featuring their testimonial on your website.
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