Should you provide a free moving truck?

If you're looking for a way to convert more leads into storage unit rentals, offering a free moving truck service is an important feature that customers look for in a facility.  This is one large competitive advantage you can provide without discounting rent or giving away the first month for free – yet it still offers about a $100 value to the new tenant. Through the principle of economies of scale, you can save your customers money without spending much yourself!

The logistics of buying or leasing your own truck

Maybe you're investing in your own company's truck to be a step above your competitors or are simply trying to keep up with the Jones'. Whatever your reasoning, if there's a need for moving truck services in your community, there's no better time to start than the present.

Purchasing your own moving truck

As a storage facility owner, you have a few options when it comes to purchasing a truck. If you have the capital, you can buy a brand new vehicle at a high cost, but for the most part, you won't have to worry about maintenance issues for at least a few years. However, this peace of mind can cost upwards of $50,000. And though, as any vehicle owner knows, more mileage usually equals more problems, consider the amount of driving your tenants will use your truck for. If you only allow local moves (which most facilities do), customers will only be making a 10-20 mile round-trip, averaging about 16,000 miles per year. U-Haul, Penske and Budget all sell their used, high-mileage vehicles for reasonable prices. If you find a good deal – be sure to snag it up!

Leasing a moving truck

Chevrolet 6500 Moving Truck When you lease a truck through a company like On the Move, your vehicle is plastered with your own marketing material - like a moving billboard.  On the Move claims that this kind of advertisement, just from having your tenants drive your truck from their home to your facility, garners 600 impressions per mile and 16 million per year. Even more potential customers can grow accustomed to your brand if you allow it to be used for charity events or drive it in a local holiday parade. These companies will include everything you need to get started with the moving truck process as well, from rental forms to affordable insurance.

Truck size versus customer driving competence

Keep in mind what size truck you'll want to purchase. If you mainly offer larger units and are only offering the truck for a single trip, be sure to find one big enough that your tenants can fit all of their belongings inside.

So what's the flipside to buying a larger truck? Many people aren't used to driving oversized vehicles and accidents are common. This can range from small dings to large, potentially costly problems (think knocked over mailboxes, hitting your facility's entry gate on the way in, backing into one of your units, etc). If you do buy a larger truck, consider instilling a policy where a trained employee will drive the vehicle in and out of the facility to prevent damage. You may also feel inclined to provide an educational brochure with oversized truck driving tips.

If you have the staff time and don't want to worry about paperwork, insuring tenants or accidents caused by bad drivers, consider having your manager or another employee exclusively in charge of driving the truck. In this scenario, a staff member would drive the truck to the new tenant's house and back. Then, the tenants will drive their own vehicle to unload their belongings into their unit. Tenants will appreciate not having to fill out the paperwork, and you can take advantage of having someone you know and trust behind the wheel of your investment.

Alternatives to buying your own truck

Although the free moving truck will hopefully drive in rentals on its own, the upfront costs can be a barrier to entry. Purchasing or leasing a vehicle with your own branding isn't your only option.

Partner with a local moving company

If you choose to partner with a local moving company, you can mutually benefit from each other's referrals. Nearly every person moving into your facility will need a moving truck to bring their belongings over, so tenants will already be searching for a trusted source. Your recommendation will build trust between you and your customers and help make their moving process just a little easier.

Charlotte Moving Company Moving Simplified-Sofa Moving

Pairing with a truck rental corporation

If you'd still like to offer the convenience of a rental truck but don't want to deal with the hassle, risk or costs of leasing your own truck, consider becoming an authorized dealer of a corporate moving truck company. Not only will you provide a service that your customers need, but you'll have a well known brand associated with your facility that will attract new customers on its own.

When you partner with a company like U-Haul, Penske or Budget, you have the additional benefit of being able to rent out to non-self storage customers. The commission received from this side of your business can add a nice supplement to your monthly income! There is a negative side to this, of course. If you end up spending too much of your employees' hours dealing with truck rentals instead of renting out storage units, your customer service may take a significant dive. Make sure to stay focused on your business' mission. It's important to remember that this truck is a piece of the marketing puzzle and not an outlet for profit. Don't lose sight of your own self storage customers in favor of the rental truck aspect of the company.

Keep in mind that another company (of either the truck rental or local moving variety) may not have the same standards as your company. If you're focused 100% on customer service but your partner company is not, the tenant may see that you're at fault. This can be anything from rental truck breakdowns to their billing process.

What success (or failure) have you had with providing moving truck services? Would you recommend it to other facilities based on your experiences?

Featured photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckinthemetal/