Climate control can be an amenity that woos customers and rakes in more revenue. Yet one of the big mistakes that owners and managers make in marketing those units is not getting that information in front of customers.
Customers can’t purchase what they don’t know about. “In most of the shopping I have done, the managers fail to mention the product,” said Robert Francis, vice president of self-storage operator Devon Self Storage.
It’s the manager’s or employee’s job to talk about the product and explain why it’s important to customers. “It is a strong, strong selling point. But you’ve got to put it out in front,” Francis said.
Different regions, different tactics
Climate control certainly means different things in different parts of the country, from Florida to Minnesota. Seasonal peak temperatures require extra precaution for valuable or vulnerable items, which can be affected by above-normal heat, moisture or cold. For the most part, climate control involves controlling both temperature and humidity to provide the same type of environment that customers would have in their homes or offices.
Humidity control in particular is important, as moisture can wreak havoc on items ranging from clothing to documents by breeding mold and mildew. Likewise, conditions that are too dry can create problems, such as drying out adhesives in furniture joints.
Therefore, marketing the advantages of climate control will depend on the region, as well as the customer base and the types of items they’re storing, Francis said.
Offering peace of mind
Operators really need to push that information out to customers to let them know why climate-controlled storage can be a great option. For example, items are not going to smell musty, and compared with conventional units, climate-controlled units are going to be cleaner because they’re sealed environments, he said.
Rhett Heyward, area manager for self-storage operator Universal Storage Group, said that a key selling point is peace of mind. People often rent storage because they run out of space in their homes. Especially for items that are valuable or carry special meaning, climate-controlled storage is worth the extra cost, Heyward said.
Operators also can use a variety of other techniques to promote climate-controlled units, ranging from signage at the facility to marketing of climate-controlled units online. Some operators offer discounts for climate-controlled space. One increasingly popular trend among newer facilities is offering climate-controlled units for the same price as non-climate-controlled units, then raising the climate-controlled rates once a facility achieves a decent lease-up level.
Climate control on the rise
Climate-controlled units are becoming more common in the industry, particularly at newer properties.
“In the old days for a facility to have more than 20 percent climate control was kind of anomaly,” Francis said. “Now it is not uncommon to find properties that are 60 percent climatized.”
Non-climate-controlled units remain the norm in rural markets. Some older properties offer a mix of climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled units.
The growth in climate-controlled units is at newer facilities, particularly in high-density urban markets. High land costs in those markets are driving developers to build predominantly multistory, all-climate-controlled facilities. Climate-controlled units help boost the income of a project, as those units typically can be rented at higher rates than traditional units can.
Array of rates
Most facilities do charge a premium for climate-controlled units. However, pricing varies depending on the location, the type of facility and the demand for those units. Higher demand usually warrants a higher price, Heyward said.
“With that said, there is usually about a 30 percent premium placed on climate-controlled units above and beyond non-climate-controlled,” he said.
Rates on climate-controlled units run the gamut, from a high of a 50 percent premium down to just a little bit more than standard units, Francis said. Knowing how to price those units usually means doing some homework to understand the market, the customer demand and the competitive landscape.
“Don’t rely on what you see on the Internet. You really need to drill down and speak to the competition,” Francis said.