We’re going to start today with a quick exercise. (If you are exhausted or extremely sleepy grab a cup of coffee first.)
Sit back in your chair, close your eyes and imagine yourself getting into your car. Fire up the engine. Put it in gear. Now take a quick virtual drive around your town. Turn down Main Street. Cruise past the commercial district. Head out toward the highway. Now think:
How many self storage facilities did you see?
They are popping up all over, these garages-for-rent. The Self Storage Association will proudly tell you that self storage has been the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the last four decades, while Wall Street analysts consider the industry to be recession-proof.
Consider the numbers: There are 59,500 self storage facilities worldwide. Of these, 48,500 are in the US.
We have a lot of stuff. And – yes, you already thought it – that stuff all needs to be moved.
Self storage facilities no longer just offer space. They are past selling boxes and tape and whatever other moving supplies they can think of to hang on the display board in their front lobby. And despite all the growth, the industry is tough – maybe you’ve seen the signs of companies offering ½ off the first month’s rent, $1 for the first month, or even a free 1st month. More than this, though, many storage facilities now rent trucks. A look at storage trends on The Sparefoot Blog tells us that getting free use of a moving truck is the #1 attraction for people searching for a great self storage deal.
So the BIG QUESTION IS:
How many of these storage facilities send out their own moving labor?
When people decide to move, one of the first things they think about is finding a mover. When people decide they need to rent storage space, it’s one of the last. This is where we come in.
Remember those self storage facilities you saw on your drive around town? Did you stop by and introduce yourself? Think about it: How beneficial might be a conversation with the owner, the manager, the staff?
Hooking up with a self storage company isn’t just a passing ‘Hey, let’s try this out’ idea. City Center Storage in Pittsburgh has already collaborated with a moving labor company in their area to offer services to the kinds of people you guys serve every day – people who need you to move their stuff. People who would love for their self storage staff to recommend someone so they don’t have to do it themselves. They’ve got enough to do already.
It’s a brand new year – a great time to fire up the imagination and find new ways to expand your business and increase your revenue. Why not start by shaking hands with the folks at an area self storage outfit? Better yet, go shake hands with the people at every single one you can find. A face and a hand shake go a long way towards building a relationship. Suggest establishing a relationship where you can recommend their storage facility to your customers while they can recommend your moving services to theirs.
Choose Your Self Storage Partners Wisely
A little food for thought before you start knocking on door. Think carefully about your strategy for developing your relationship with one or more of your local self storage facilities. Are they highly-regarded? Are they clean, secure, and well-maintained? Do they present a positive image? If you have your choice of companies, then you have the luxury of being choosy. Who you recommend is a reflection on you.
Be a Loyal Business Partner
You are asking someone to recommend you to their customers who need help moving. Are you then going to turn around and start recommending a different self storage company to your customers? Trying to establish a reciprocal relationship with more than one self storage place can be a precarious proposition; reciprocity is a two-way street. Value those you do business with. Be honest with them. If you do create a rapport with more than one company, make it logistically consistent. Find solid companies located on opposite sides of town, or in places far from each other; then it would make sense to say you are providing your customers with the most convenient location for them. That is simply good business, and does not compromise your integrity as a partner in the relationships you are growing.
A few more interesting facts about the self storage presence in the US…
The combined storage space in all those 48,500 facilities we have equals 2.3 billion square feet. That’s 78 square miles, or more than three times the size of Manhattan. To put it another way, there are 7.3 square feet of storage space for every single person, man woman and child, in the US. This means it is possible for everyone in the entire country to be standing inside a storage unit at the same time.
As of mid-2013, 87.4% of self storage units were occupied (percentage based on units rented per facility). Almost 9% of American households currently rent a self storage unit, even though 65% of them have a garage, 47% have an attic and 33% have a basement.
Yup, we have a lot of stuff.
And guess who else is now renting storage space, as evidenced by this video, courtesy of Inside Self Storage.