Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
While it's true that residents of your area or those who are moving make up the majority of those who need a storage unit, don't forget about the business owners out there who may be running out of room in their offices. According to research done by the Self Storage Association, businesses account for close to 30% of all self storage tenants, so if you're not actively marketing toward this group, you could be missing out on a large chunk of potential revenue. Even more, commercial customers generally rent for longer periods of time than apartment dwellers or house hunters and are typically more reliable about paying rent on time.
The small businesses in your area may be unaware of many of the perks of renting self storage – it's a much cheaper alternative to relocating offices (especially if they're already in the perfect location) in order to find more space for documents, inventory, surplus supplies and equipment. So what can your self storage business do to become more appealing to local business clientele? Consider marketing the amenities you already offer to the local business community and get your small business customers’ input on how you can improve your facility to better cater to the needs of local business owners.
First things first: assess your location. Are you near an industrial park or surrounded by residential neighborhoods? If there are no small businesses within a 5-10 mile radius of your storage facility, chances are you might be better off targeting homeowners. Even if you’re in a primarily residential neighborhood, you can still attract business owners with a little out-of-the-box marketing.
There are many businesses out there that can take advantage of storage services – from public schools to contractors to restaurants to small business owners who work out of their homes. Reach out to potential businesses in your area and chat with them about their storage needs. Social media is another great way to get the word out about your small business storage solutions - and it’s completely free. If you need tips on how to use Facebook to bring in leads for your storage business, check out our beginner’s guide to social media (with post templates!).
Are you located near Napa Valley where wineries are more common than fast food restaurants? Consider offering wine storage! Perhaps you're near a large outdoor recreational area, and you can offer boat and vehicle storage for your local government’s parks and recreation department. Get creative when considering the popular businesses that surround you, and consider adding specialty storage options to fit a particular industry's needs, like wine cellars, vehicle parking, or band practice spaces. Taking a unique approach will help you bring in local small businesses and stand out from the competition.
If you're planning on expanding or retrofitting your facility, consider adding larger units to your unit mix during your upcoming construction phase. Even if expansion is not an option at your property, it's usually possible to knock down some walls between smaller units to create a larger one to create rentable warehouse space. If your facility is in a rural area, and there’s a big demand for warehouse space, consider building to offer these large spaces. If you’re located in the heart of the city, consider converting nearby empty buildings into usable storage space.
When building business-specific units, keep these things in mind: Commercial tenants favor units with higher, loading dock-style doors for easy access. If possible, add a couple of extra feet to make these spaces wider than a conventional unit. When standard units are 10 feet wide, a 12 foot wide unit by comparison gives the appearance of (and truly creates) a much larger and more valuable space. While this may negatively impact your price per square foot when compared to smaller units, keep in mind that commercial customers tend to stick around longer, resulting in fewer vacancies and a more steady income.
Climate-controlled storage space is a necessity for many small businesses, especially if they’re storing sensitive items like documents, electronics, handmade goods, or antiques. This is especially true in climates with frequently fluctuating weather. At the storEDGE office in Kansas City, temperature swings are extremely common - spring-like sunny days can quickly turn into below zero weather. If you don't already offer climate controlled units, you may be alienating potential customers who need extra space but can’t rent a conventional unit due to their temperature-sensitive items.
Convenience is huge for busy small business owners. If your commercial customers stop by their unit on a daily or weekly basis, consider adding timesaving amenities to your facility to make their lives a little easier. Even small timesaving improvements can help them streamline their workday and provide value for their business. Amenities like 24-hour access, free coffee and Wifi, package delivery and acceptance, fax/copy services, and even an on-site conference room are fantastic ways to add value for small business owners.
If you don't already, consider allowing tenants to pay their bills online or set up autopay to make monthly rent collection an easy process. Providing 24-hour access is critical: even if this is an option only available to your commercial tenants, consider adding it to bring in small business owners who work contractually or at erratic hours. Increased access will give your customers peace of mind knowing they can access their business' most important items whenever they need them most.
Affordable office spaces are always in high demand, and if you already offer services like business storage, mailboxes, faxing, copying, and a conference room, the next logical step is to provide an actual office space in which a business could conduct business. If you have rentable offices, a business center and storage units, you have everything a commercial customer could need all in one place. Consider offering package discounts to market your business center services if you plan to go this route.
Want to get started marketing to small businesses in your area? Don't miss our FREE guide to social media for great post ideas and templates. Download it below!
Thanks for reading! If you liked this blog post, you may also like: How to boost your revenue with moving truck rentals, How to choose the right self storage contractor for your new build, and DIY or Don't: When to call in the pros for your self storage marketing.