Why worry about catering to commercial tenants?

While it's true that residents between homes make up the majority of those who need a storage unit, don't neglect the business owners out there who may be running out of room in their offices. According to the Self Storage Association, businesses account for 20 to 30 percent of the self storage market share, so if you're not actively marketing toward this group, you're missing out on a large chunk of potential business. In addition to making up a large portion of the market share, these commercial customers generally rent for longer periods of time than apartment dwellers or house hunters and can be better about paying rent on time.

Many companies are unaware of the perks of renting self storage – it's a great 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 you provide to become more appealing to this clientele? Consider the amenities you already offer and see how you can improve them to cater more toward a business owner.

See if there's a market for it

First thing's first: are you near an industrial park or surrounded by neighborhoods? If there are no businesses within a five to ten mile radius of your storage facility, chances are you're better off targeting to homeowners.  However, if you think outside of the box a little bit, you'll realize there are several types of businesses out there that can take advantage of your services – from public schools to contractors to small business owners who work out of their homes. Before changing your marketing strategy or beginning any new construction, be sure to make a list of potential businesses in the area to which you can reach out.

Consider specialty storage

Are you located near Napa Valley where wineries are more common than fast food restaurants? Or perhaps you're near the local high school with a large driver's education program. Consider the types of "businesses" that surround you, and consider adding specialty storage to fit a particular industry's needs, like wine cellars or vehicle parking spaces. Take a creative approach and offer something to these companies that your competitors don't or can't.

Build larger storage units

Warehouse space, Chelsea, NYC If you're planning on expanding your storage facility's portfolio of units offered, consider building larger units during your next construction phase. If expansion is not an option due to spatial constraints, it's usually possible to knock down some walls between smaller units to create a larger one.  Some facilities even offer warehouse spaces with up to tens of thousands of square feet. Rural companies with room, funds and demand for expansion should consider offering these large spaces; however, if you are located in the heart of a big city, it's possible (and not terribly difficult) to convert nearby empty buildings into usable storage facilities.

When building business-specific units, keep a few things in mind. Commercial tenants favor units with higher 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.

One drawback to creating bigger spaces is that they are typically rented at a lower price per square foot than their smaller counterparts; however, commercial customers tend to stick around longer, resulting in fewer vacancies and a more steady income.

Climate control (at least some of) your spaces

Climate control is a necessity for many of a business' sensitive items like documents and electronics. This is especially true in climates with highly fluctuating weather. If you don't already offer these units, you may be alienating potential customers who need extra space but won't be able to use a conventional unit.

Cater to business owners' day-to-day needs

Convenience is huge for busy small business owners. If your commercial customers stop by their unit on a daily or weekly basis, consider adding amenities to your facility to make their lives a little easier. Chances are, they'd like to spend less time running errands and more time running their businesses. You can help by providing features like PO Boxes, package acceptance, fax/copy services and even an onsite conference room.

Additionally, making Wi-Fi available on your property will allow tenants to check their e-mail accounts on the go. If you don't already, consider allowing customers to pay their bills online or enabling auto-debit to make monthly rent an easy process. Providing 24 hour access to units (even if this is an option only available to your commercial tenants) can give your customers peace of mind, knowing they can access their business' most important items whenever they need them most.

Lease an actual office space from which to work

Hello New Office Affordable office spaces are always in high demand, and if you already offer services like storage, mailboxes, faxing, copying and a conference room, the next logical step is to provide the actual place in which a business could conduct business. If you have offices, a business center and storage units, you have everything a commercial customer could need; they never have to leave! Consider 24 hour access, air conditioning and discounts on other services you offer if you plan to go this route.

Are there any other ways your storage facility actively tries to market to local businesses? Let us know in the comments below!