Will Little Debbie, which uses self-storage units as warehouses, ramp up rentals in response to potentially heightened demand as Hostess continues its downward slide? What about growing medicinal pot in units, as one Washington self-storage enterprise advocates? And as more empty nesters downsize, where will they store stuff they want to keep, but can no longer accommodate within their home?
Self-storage will continue to reflect national trends and cash in on them. Tuned-in self-storage operators can strategically target new and changing marketplaces. Here are steps that can help you identify and capitalize on new or expanding opportunities:
1. Read and research. From scanning daily headlines to setting up Google Alerts, self-storage operators can scope out opportunities. Classify these based on “acute” and “ongoing” possibilities and market accordingly. For example, the empty nester trend of downsizing is ongoing, and should be addressed as part of continuing marketing efforts. Meanwhile, the emergence of micro-unit living could be categorized as an acute situation; while it will continue indefinitely—fueled in part by rising real estate costs–it is “trendy” and timely now to get people who are interested in substantial downsizing to consider self-storage as integral to their storage plans.
2. Reach out strategically. Put on your thinking cap and use commonsense logic to determine where and how to market targeted self-storage users. For example, empty nesters looking for smaller quarters will generally funnel their efforts through one of two pipelines: real estate agents or rental conduits. Think about offers and ways to enlist the interest and support of these communities. Here are a couple of starter ideas in this realm:
- Establish a program with area realtors that ties together a self-storage deal with sales to empty nesters. If properly constructed, this can provide a competitive edge for the realtor to acquire clients, which in turn makes them predisposed to go for it. Make this a substantial incentive–not just a few bucks off a rental, but some type of offer certain to get attention.
- Negotiate similar deals with major real estate “centers of influence” for empty nesters. Possibilities include everything from high-rise apartment complexes catering to this crowd to assisted living centers. Again, these entities can use the self-storage offer as a promotional tool to sign tenants or residents, thereby making it a no-brainer to get companies on board.
3. Mix in some charitable giving to help drive community goodwill and positive press exposure. And don’t just wait until the need presents itself, such as with Hurricane Sandy. Look towards helping people who have become homeless because of an economic downturn. While they temporarily may not have their own home, they still have stuff that needs to be stored while they sort out their situation and get back on their feet. A bit of support here can go a long way towards building community goodwill as you go forward.
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