At Syrasoft I’ve had the opportunity to work with self storage managers, owners, and operators around the world. I’ve had the pleasure of assisting many facilities in the development of their marketing plans and consulting on the execution.
As owners and operators of self storage facilities, we understand how easy it is to find yourself in a marketing rut. You’ve carefully priced your units and have used tools like our Rent Adjustment Wizard to maximize your revenue. You’ve got your curb appeal and social media down to a science. you’ve even revamped your website to be a snappy, mobile-first website such as those offered by Syrasoft’s Web Design Services. Now you’ve expanded your operating hours thanks to mobile access to your facility’s data through a tool like the MobileManager®
Over the past couple of years, our customers have introduced me to some novel marketing tactics. Here are a few of my favorite, low budget self storage marketing ideas!
Local Real Estate Data and Self Storage
In June of 2017 I spoke with a Syrasoft user in Washington who had found an interesting way to to make use of local, public real estate information.
Dave shared that in 2015, a tenant moved into the facility and the Syrasoft software recognized the address entered. The tenant who had that address previously had moved out only days prior. While processing the move-out, Dave learned that first tenant had sold their home.
That was the lightbulb moment for Dave. Home sales were the one time when you could predict an individual household may require self storage services. Dave recalled using websites like Zillow and Redfin during his own move several years earlier. Real estate listings turned out to be a perfect way to identify households more likely than not to need Dave’s services.
Using That Data
Dave now spends about thirty minutes a month copying recent home sale addresses from several real estate websites,. He then mails a handwritten note on a postcard that includes a discount for storage or truck rentals.
Dave has had the current homeowner show up to rent a unit or truck and shortly thereafter the new homeowner rented a unit several times. As with any strategy in this industry, results vary depending on the market. After a few months, Dave did the math and found in his case this practice was well worth his time.
Community Influencers and Self Storage
At the 2018 SSA Las Vegas Trade Show, a Syrasoft user explained how she had used Syrasoft to alert her to move-ins of influential members of her community.
Sandra recognized a name on her town’s Facebook community page as an existing tenant at one of Sandra’s storage facilities. If you are a part of a local community Facebook page you know the type. They know the community inside and out, and are the first ones to make a recommendation when asked.
That willingness to share their recommendations extends beyond social media and into their real-life social circles. Considering the type of personality we’re talking about, those circles are usually substantial.
While high-quality customer service for all customers is a must in any industry, delivering that little something extra to an influential customer never hurts.
Using That Knowledge
Sandra added an alert to that Tenant’s account to actively remind her and the facility’s managers who this was. The alert was very easy to set up. Every time they opened that tenant’s record, a box displaying “VIP” would appear. Over the next year, Sandra had several referrals from that particular tenant. Those referrals justified the few moments it took to add the alert to the tenant’s profile.
The Hometown Advantage and Self Storage
One of my favorite examples of using qualitative information to find a new target market and comes from my hometown. I had the pleasure of meeting a new owner-operator whose facility sat between Pulaski, New York and the larger Syracuse area market.
Due to the rural nature of his location and several years of mediocre management, Chris’ facility didn’t have the year-round occupancy levels he had hoped. We opened up his Syrasoft reports to look at the numbers.
Immediately, we saw the Occupancy History report(a variant of which is available in all self storage software) was showing two fairly substantial annual spikes. These peaks in occupancy went back several years before Chris purchased the property. One spike occurred in the spring and the other in the fall.
I happened to be familiar with that area and knew the region is a hotspot for seasonal outdoors activities. I asked Chris if he knew what tenants stored during two different seasons. The facility had been making use of Syrasoft’s customizable demographics questionnaire. Chris, being an avid snowmobiler, had added the Snowmobile option available in the questionnaire under “Why did you need a storage unit?”.
After reviewing the demographics reports we saw the spike in spring move ins was due to snowmobiles being placed into storage for the season. What was missing was why so many tenants moved out a few weeks later.
I suggested that during the next fall move-in season, Chris begin recording what the “Other” category tenants were storing. Sure enough, Ski-Dos, small boats, and cottage furnishings made up enough of the difference to add the options to his permanent survey.
Taking the time to specifically record what the “Other” category also revealed enough motorcycles and small vehicles to warrant action as well.
Applying What He Learned
Chris used that new data and began specifically targeting local marinas, diners, gas stations and campgrounds with flyers. He also offered discounts through local motorsports Facebook groups, changing the flyer and post content depending on the season. About a year later we reviewed his Occupancy History and several financial reports. The baseline occupancy level was noticeably higher than the previous year!
The lesson here is twofold. If you’re not from the market you’re working in you’ll want to tap local knowledge. If you see a substantial percentage of “Other” responses on your questionnaires, you’re missing valuable information. Alternatively, if there are more “Other” responses now than on old reports, something in your market may have changed. Take the time to find out what else your tenants are storing and use that information
If you have marketing questions or have a novel marketing success story I would love to speak with you! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your success!