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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® The Drawbacks While this profit center has many positive aspects, there can be a few cons associated with vehicle storage. If you're trying to maintain a certain price per square foot, boat/RV storage will likely bring down your average. These are big spaces, and trying to hold to the same price per square foot as your traditional self-storage units would put these out of reach of nearly all customers. Additionally, these customers typically expect more individual attention. They pay a lot each month to store their toy with you, and they want you to cater to their needs. This can be a challenge for facilities that have inexperienced employees or a small staff. Taking the Leap If you're thinking about including vehicle storage as part of your unit mix, consider the following: Space requirements. If you're going to offer the service, you need enough space to do it well, say Johnson and Tsai. You should have room to install a variety of options, whether it's pull-through spaces, angled parking or fully enclosed units, so you'll have a solution for every type of vehicle. Plus, you want to install wide drive aisles so renters feel comfortable maneuvering. Unit size. Pankow recommends spaces in a variety of lengths including 20, 30, 35, 40 and 45 feet, plus a few 50-foot spots. His facility contains 170 units consisting of all these sizes, and he wishes he had more. The minimum width should be 12 feet, he says, because many RV clients are older and seem to have difficulty navigating into tight spaces. Unit type. A good vehicle-storage ratio consists of 75 percent covered units to 25 percent uncovered, Pankow says. The uncovered spaces are good for targeting the budget customer, whereas the covered spaces will cater to the average tenant. You LEARN MORE Learn more in the seminar "From the High Road to the High Seas: Building Boat and RV Storage," to be presented by expert Jamie Lindau at the upcoming ISS World Expo in Las Vegas. Get details and register at may also want to add some fully enclosed spaces to target high-end customers who want to fully protect their vehicle. If you do this, Johnson and Tsai recommend 15-by-50 spaces for the large coaches and fifth-wheels, and 12-by-35 spaces for smaller RVs, boats and cars. Partnerships. Consider partnering with RV dealers and offering a finder's fee to those who refer business to your facility, Pankow advises. Word-of-mouth is also very big in the RV community, he says. By keeping your customers happy and their vehicles safe and secure, word will spread quickly. Vehicle storage can be a great addition to a new or existing facility. By considering the pros and cons, you can determine if it's the right solution for you. Derek Hines is a writer for West Coast Self-Storage, a self-storage management, acquisitions and development company with facilities in California, Oregon and Washington. He writes extensively on all subjects related to the storage industry. For more information, visit

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