Marketing is a crucial tool to keep your self storage business afloat. There are a plethora of marketing tactics that many businesses utilize including building a website, running social media accounts and creating advertisements. Get ahead of the competition in your area by thinking outside the marketing box and throwing an open house.

An open house gives you an opportunity to connect with current customers face-to-face and thank them for their continued support. Plus, you’ll get to meet potential customers that will hopefully fill your empty units. Don’t forget to have your business cards ready to hand out.

A storage facility is the perfect place to throw an open house because chances are you have a good amount of outdoor space. You could set up a grill and barbecue to keep food costs low. Plus, kids can burn energy by running around. Open houses also force you and your staff to give the facility a deep cleaning before guests arrive, which may sometimes fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

Although an open house is a simple marketing tool, it will still take some preparation. Use these tips to throw a successful open house at your storage facility.

Make your guest list

Figure out how many guests your venue can hold and set a number of guests you want to invite. Go through your LinkedIn account, your Facebook friends, your client list, your business card pile, your family, your email newsletter list and any leads on potential customers you have. Use those contacts to compile your guest list.

Pick your date and time

If you have any guests you want to make sure will be able to attend, talk to them and your staff about a day they have free. Most people work Monday through Friday, so choosing a day on the weekend will probably work best. To maximize the amount of people that can come, provide a large timeframe. Think about what the weather is like during certain parts of the year in your city. You don’t want to throw a party when there could be a foot of snow or when it could be so hot you could grill a hot dog on the pavement.

Make and send invitations

Make sure you get your invitations out in enough time for people to plan their schedules around the event. Make invitations that stand out so your target audience remembers the event is happening. You could make a unique invitation with a beautiful design, or send a magnetic invitation so people can put it on their fridge and see it every day.

Advertise the event

You could buy an advertisement in your local newspaper or on a radio station, but there are also free ways to get the word out. Put the event on your website in a place that everyone will see when they come to your page. Make a Facebook event and share it on your business page. Ask your staff if they would be willing to share it on their personal pages too. Create posters and hang them around your facility so your customers see them when they come in and out.

Give people incentives to attend

Offer attendees a free lunch at your open house. You’d be surprised how much someone’s interest peaks when you mention there will be free food and drinks at an event. Depending on how much business you hope to make off of this event, it could be a good move to give away door prizes. Door prizes could include discounts on rent, popular toys for kids or gift certificates to local businesses. In addition to door prizes, some facilities hold raffles or host fun games to keep everyone entertained.

Plan the menu

This is an event to recruit and thank your customers so treat them to a free meal. A cheap way to go would be to set up a grill and throw on some hot dogs and hamburgers. Pair those with soda, chips and potato salad for a fairly inexpensive lunch. You could also have a local restaurant cater, but it might be more expensive. The advantage to having someone else cater is that you won’t have to worry about the food or drinks and can focus on talking with people.

Once you’ve planned everything and the day comes, take advantage of it by talking to everyone at the event. Make a goal to hand out 100 business cards to potential clients. Leave out a sign up sheet so people can write down their information and you can follow up on the leads later. Get your staff together and plan an open house today!