Inside Self-Storage

FEB 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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As a self-storage operator, you have a captive audience when it comes to retail merchandise. Most people who enter your office are in the process of packing. Whether they're relocating, downsizing or using self-storage for a life change such as a divorce, death in the family or new baby, your customers are uniquely amenable to the idea of buying boxes, locks, tape and other moving-related items. If you're looking to increase your ancillary profit stream, don't miss this opportunity to meet and capitalize on their needs! But what if you don't know the first thing about operating a successful retail space? If you're already running a busy storage facility, designing a merchandise area, choosing inventory, determining prices, and selling and marketing new products can feel like an entirely new business. Don't worry! Retail doesn't have to be a massive undertaking. Consider the following and start today. Design Before you start ordering products (we'll tackle that in a bit), look at your potential retail space. Most likely, it's part of your management office, and you need to work with what you've got. How much room can you devote to this profit center? It's important to use exact measurements, so consult a blueprint or take them yourself. You'll use these to order your own displays or provide them to a retail-supply company, as it may be able to help with design. What if your available space is quite small? No problem. You can still have a comprehensive inventory of moving and packing products. The solution is right under your nose: Use a storage unit! You can display a few key products in the office but keep the bulk of your inventory out of sight. You can even use a poster, digital display, or binder with photos and descriptions to show customers what's available. Once they've selected what they want, you simply gather their purchases from the unit. Even facilities with no office space can still operate a thriving store using this method. Just remember that a successful store is visually appealing. Think about the last time you walked into a retail space. Was it well-lit and organized? Follow these simple tips to keep your store clean and inviting: • Avoid harsh, f uorescent lighting. • Keep all products in their proper place. Use downtime to organize any items that are out of order. • Dust and sweep the area regularly. • Make sure products are well-marked. A customer shouldn't have to ask how much something costs. • Consider using digital signage to reduce paper clutter. • Consider playing music over a speaker system, but choose something isn't polarizing or distracting. Inventory Use these two words your retail mantra: Start slow. No matter what your product supplier says, there's no need to offer all the bells and whistles right off the bat. At first, you only need basic items such as boxes, locks, tape, box cutters, bubble wrap, packing foam, labels and tape measures. Then track which items are popular and ask customers what other products they'd like to see. From there, you can determine what to order in bulk and what to add. Once you're ready to expand your offerings, consider items that are related to your local market or other services you offer. For example, if you offer RV storage, you could sell levelers, holding-tank treatment and antifreeze. If you offer wine storage, you might sell bottle keys and stoppers or glass decanters. Think about the last time you bought a pack of gum from the grocery store. You probably didn't go to the store with the intent of buying gum. You went to get things you needed and then, while waiting in the checkout line, you saw the package and thought, "Sure, why not?" Quick-sale items are often referred to as "impulse buys," and you can certainly work them into your self-storage retail plan. Keep low-cost, enticing items by your register so customers can easily grab and add them to their order. They should be inexpensive, so customers can justify purchasing them. Options might include gum, candy, markers, packing tape and box labels. Pricing Pricing is all about balance. You need to strike an equilibrium between capitalizing on your captive audience and establishing fair, attractive prices. Yes, you can markup products by as much as 100 percent on the wholesale price—for example, if a lock costs you $7, you can charge $14—but don't get so carried away that you deter customers from buying. If you've ever LEARN MORE Learn more about running retail in the video "Thinking Beyond the Unit: Add-On Profit Centers for Self-Storage," available in on-demand and DVD formats exclusively at www.iss-store.com. Rethinking Your Retail Advice on design, inventory, pricing, sales and more By Krista Diamond The retail center at All Storage in Fort Worth, Texas 16 ISS I February 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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