With autumn in full swing — and Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner — it’s an ideal time for self-storage operators to connect with their tenants and the community –and maybe even attract new customers.
Experts say it doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a big impact.
Marc Goodin, president of Storage Authority, a self-storage franchisor in Fort Lauderdale, FL, said they buy 40 to 50 pumpkins at a bulk discount from a local farmer.
“We put on Facebook: ‘Stop by and say hi and take a pumpkin.’ You don’t even have to rent,” Goodin said, “It’s getting people to your self storage or just getting them to think about you when they drive by and see six pumpkins on the wall, six pumpkins by the sign, six by the front door – and it makes them smile.”
Along with his “pumpkin bonanza”, Goodin holds a fall coat drive. As people are switching out their summer wear for winter wear, they may notice they have an extra coat. He suggests branching out in the community and forming partnerships with organizations that can cross-promote and cross-market your drives and events.
Go to your local social services organization and become a drop-off point for the community, Goodin said. You can loan a 10-by-10 unit and people can bring in coats or whatever is needed in your community.
Get the word out on your website, local chamber websites, signs and social media.
Support the troops
“I’ve also noticed that fall seems to be a time when groups are sending things to the U.S. troops all over the world, “ Goodin said. “If you want to tie into those groups, they need boxes and bubble wrap, and we give them that stuff for free and you can be a drop-off.”
Goodin suggests getting in touch with a group that works with the troops and find out what items they need.
“They promote you and you promote them and you’re helping the troops,” Goodin said.
Hold a “Trunk-or-Treating” event for kids where local businesses pass out candy. Promote it to your customers and the community. Line up cars in your parking lot and kids trick or treat at your trunk, said Sue Haviland, owner of San Francisco-based Haviland Storage Services and a partner at consulting firm Self Storage 101.
“It’s a safe place to bring kids to trick or treat,” Haviland said.
While it’s a free event, you can hold a canned food drive or blanket drive for the homeless, Haviland said. Promote your event through social media, your website, signs and flyers and reach out to local radio stations.
“Sometimes you can get them to come and do a radio spot or they’ll give you a free shout out: ‘Hey, bring the kids to ABC Storage –they’re having a Trunk-or-Treat!’” Haviland said.
Some of Winter Garden, FL-based iStorage’s locations offer pumpkin carving around Halloween. They set up tables and either provide the pumpkins or have people bring their own pumpkins and give away prizes for the best carvings, said Steve French, regional manager for iStorage.
Donate storage space
Many iStorage stores hold food drives at Thanksgiving where they team up with community organizations, churches or food banks. Some of their stores hold fall clothing drives and have organizations like Salvation Army put receptacles in their facilities.
They also have participated with Charity Storage where you donate a storage unit that becomes a collection point for donated goods.
“Then when you have a public auction at that store, you auction off that unit and the proceeds go to Charity Storage, which supports local and national charities,” French said.
iStorage has a store in southwest Florida that works with Bikes for Tykes.
“They collect bikes, store them at our location in a free storage unit, refurbish and then distribute the bikes to underprivileged children and families,” said Rick Beeson, senior district manager for iStorage. “It’s really an all-year-round program but gets additional attention this time of year.”
Host a yard sale
Bring people to your self-storage property by hosting a fall yard sale.
Michael Kline, store manager at iStorage’s store in Smithville, NJ , hosts an annual sale where tenants are invited to set up tables in front of their units and sell goods. They tie it in with Smithville’s Fall Irish Festival for even more foot traffic.
“It gives tenants an opportunity if they want to try and clear up extra space or get rid of a few items, or if they’re looking to buy anything as well,” Kline said. “Usually, we have about 60 people who sell and 200 to 300 people who come to buy. And every year, we’ve always gotten a new customer from it.”