While good self-storage managers know it’s important to show your customers you appreciate their business all year-round, it seems even more fitting to do some special things to thank them around the holidays.
Here are some creative ways to spread a little love around to your self-storage tenants this holiday season:
Host an open house
Send e-mail to tenants (and post signs) inviting them to stop by your office for hot chocolate, apple cider and cookies. Experts say it doesn’t have to be a fancy affair.
“It can be as simple as in the middle of the month—maybe a Thursday and Friday – and say, ‘We’re having a customer appreciation day. Come on by and we’re going to have cake and goodies and prizes,’” said Anne Ballard, president of marketing, training and developmental services at Atlanta-based Universal Storage Group.
Partner with a charity
You can also combine your party with a food, coat or blood drive, which sends a strong message that your property is a key part of the community.
“The best event is one you tie into a local charity,” Ballard said. “Collect cans, coats or food or pair up with local churches and get a drive going for whatever they need.”
Roseville, CA-based LifeStorage launches a big campaign every November for Toys for Tots and ties it into their open house.
“When customers bring in a toy we put their name in a raffle,” said Michelle Wight-Sands, LifeStorage’s director of operations. “Every week we raffle off prizes, gift cards, a free month’s rent or gift boxes. That’s something we do to help motivate our customers to give, but we want to give back to our customers as well with some fun gifts and prizes.”
Serve up breakfast
Several of Ballard’s stores choose a day to serve drive-thru breakfast to tenants.
“They just show up at the keypad and are served some kind of breakfast goodie,” Ballard said. “It doesn’t have to cost a lot; it just needs to be clever and creative so your customers know you’re really thanking them for storing with you, because they could be storing with someone else.”
One year, Universal Storage Group promoted “Stuff yourself, not your closet,” and gave away free frozen turkeys for renting during November.
Become ‘holiday central’
Offer a “Santa’s Workshop” for customers with a free gift-wrapping station in a vacant storage unit and provide the necessities—wrapping paper, bows, scissors, tape and nametags.
For example, Elmwood Self Storage and Wine Cellar in Harahan, LA, decorates their facility for the season and sets up folding tables in a 10-by-20 unit for tenants to wrap gifts. They serve apple cider and cookies and designate one Saturday for tenants to get their kids’ or pets’ photos taken with Santa.
“For the stores that do that program right, it’s very successful because you can market it not only to your own customers but to local retailers to send their customers to wrap for free. It’s a dual-purpose marketing and thank-you event,” Ballard said.
Send a card
While some stores mail out holiday cards, others send them electronically through e-mail blasts. If you’re going to mail cards, consider sending a gas or coffee gift card to your longer-term customers, Ballard said.
“One year, one of our very high-end stores with a wine cellar sent a note to tenants who had been renting over five years, saying, ‘We have a gift bottle of wine for you if you come into the office,’” Ballard said. “It’s very nice to give our best customers a little something extra.”
Wight-Sands said LifeStorage sends out holiday cards thanking customers for their patronage and adds a coupon for a discount on their boxes and packing supplies.
Give small gifts
Marlene Corpus, marketing director for 21st Century Storage and a self-storage consultant, knows everybody loves a freebie, so offering a small logoed-gift can go a long way.
“Every manager should have something to offer for free on a weekly or monthly basis,” Corpus said. “Our managers give all customers a free porcelain coffee mug with every new rental.”
During holiday customer appreciation events, Sue Haviland suggests having calendars made and handing them out. Haviland is owner of San Francisco-based Haviland Storage Services and a partner at consulting firm Self Storage 101.
Perks for tenants
“In the past, we have waived a late fee in December,” Haviland said. “I’ve also had a couple of clients that have a drawing in December for either a free month or a prize.”
Corpus believes in “refreshing and reviving” customers on move-in day and offers a free Starbucks coffee, tea or hot chocolate.