With nearly 13 million registered boats in the United States, boat storage is big business. Similar to the RV storage demographic, boat owners are typically wealthier than traditional self-storage tenants, and tend to be more interested in amenities and increased security protection. Compared to the overall self-storage industry, boat storage facilities have much lower churn and delinquency rates. Once boat owners find a suitable storage facility for their prized possessions, they often stay for years. Put simply, boat owners are affluent and loyal.
When marketing your facility to boat owners, it’s important to offer a heightened sense of security. By offering 24-hour video surveillance, abundant lighting, and individual access codes, you can assuage most of the security concerns your tenants may have. Boat owners often look for facilities that offer climate control, electricity access, wash bays, waste stations, onsite detailing and repair services.
Although boat enthusiasts value luxury, you shouldn’t try to compete with waterfront marinas when it comes to amenities. Valet services, onsite mechanics, fish cleaning areas, and bait and tackle stores can complement a boat storage facility, but unless your facility is on prime real estate, the addition of tennis courts, coffee shops, and restaurants would be excessive.
In this day and age, it’s vital to have a good website— boat owners will almost always make their rental payments online when this option is available. Also, boat owners generally know one another, so establishing a referral program can be rather effective marketing strategy.
If you’re expanding an existing facility to include boat storage, make sure you consult a knowledgeable self-storage attorney to help write an addendum to your existing lease agreement. Be aware that certain services, such as boat-retrieval (using your own equipment and employees to transport boats to your facility) will increase your potential liability. Make sure that you’re not liable for any loss or damage to boats, and most importantly, don’t allow any uninsured boats to be stored at your facility. Other tips:
- Track the year, make, model, color, and serial number of every boat. This is helpful in the event of a foreclosure.
- Be sure to get insurance information from every tenant.
- Take a photograph of each boat upon move-in.
- Remind tenants to keep their fuel tanks full in storage.
- Don’t allow tenants to store portable fuel containers.
- Do not permit smoking.
- Ensure that all floors are protected in the event of an oil spill.
- Don’t allow tenants to run boat engines onsite.
- Make sure you understand your state’s lien laws.