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Start Your Sales & Marketing Long Before You Open.

By Ed Clement

"Your Self Storage Planning - Site Selection - Design-Build" by Marc Goodin

Chapter 15

Twenty marketing ideas to implement before opening the doors for a faster rent-up period.

You need to start thinking about marketing when you start looking for property. Pre-opening marketing is so important because there is a lot of competition out there and improved cash flow during your first year is so important.

I highly recommend you read Crush Your Competition with 101 Self Storage Marketing Tips for The Fastest Way to Huge Profits Now. Not only will it help your cash flow improve vastly, but it will also help you better understand the business.

A good understanding of self-storage marketing will influence your design in many ways which will help you provide better and more professional services for your future clients.

I have found that the vast majority of our renters found us by driving by, our website, and referrals from existing customers.

The last 10% comes from the remainder of our marketing and advertising. Marketing rule #1 - marketing should start long before your facility opens, starting with site selection.

Again, when we ask our customers how they heard about us the clear majority of our customers answer, "by driving by the site."

The view from the cars driving by should be considered when designing the layout and building. Self-storage facilities not visible from the street are much, much harder to rent.

During the site selection and design, special attention should be given to the site view, landscaping, lighting, and building features. Remember they are also driving by the competition sites and have to make a choice.

You are investing millions of dollars. Now is the time to start implementing your marketing plan to help increase the success of your business.

Here are 20 marketing ideas to implement before opening the doors for a faster rent-up period.

1. Make it clear in all your pre-opening advertising and discussions with people you are now renting and taking reservations.

2. Don’t wait any longer, order business cards. Hand them out like water – two to a person. Get their card and let them know you are going to put them on your newsletter list.

3. Make a list of marketing activities for each month from the time you start construction until the facility opens. The time goes fast and without a mini-marketing plan, you will not find the time for this important activity.

4. A “Coming Soon” and “Now Renting” construction signs should be installed as soon as possible after regulatory approvals. Make sure your option agreement permits you to put a sign on the property before closing.

5. You may even want to include the option to clear-cut the property before the closing, as this typically creates a lot of buzz in the community. But never cut any trees before you have all your regulatory commission approvals! Make sure your temporary coming soon sign has a phone number and website.

6. Buy your website domain name early on. At least a simple one-page splash website should be available shortly after regulatory approvals. Your full website should be up and running 60 days before you open. You want to own the web domain that matches your company name. Many people are going to Google search simply by plugging in the town and self-storage. It makes a big difference if your site comes up first, so you don’t need a web expert. Typically, you will need to budget $500 to $1, 500 a month minimum for your website and PPC.

7. As soon as you have temporary power to the site, put some Christmas lights around the coming soon sign to attract more lookers, even if it is summer.

8. When the first piece of steel is erected, place several pennants (local high school colors are an excellent choice) on the site.

9. Start your self-storage Facebook page right after approvals. Set a goal of 300 to 1,000 likes before you open. Invite everyone you know, people you meet, and people on your website to follow the construction process on your Facebook page.

10. Early on investigate what it takes to get your new facility phone number. It is not as simple as one would think. You might have to use a temp number or a cell number.

11. Normally I do not recommend mass mailings, but during startup, it can help the population realize there is a new self-storage facility in the community. Research and find out your options to reach the entire community for a one-time grand opening message.

12. Make 500 “Pre-Opening Special” postcards. Drive around town and say hi to the local businesses and hand out your postcards starting when your construction is clearly visible, at least three months before your grand opening. Normally, I advise against giving an across-the-board discount, but this is the one exception. When you hand them out, let everyone know there is no deposit or obligation – they only have to give you their name and number to reserve a unit for the preopening discounted prices. Set yourself a high goal of 50 units rented before you open. That’s a $50,000 yearly income ready to go! (Average unit rent $125 x average stay of 12 months x 50 units = $75,000 of income)

13. By simply making a small adjustment to the pre-opening special postcard, you will have a grand opening special postcard. Change from pre-opening to grand opening cards when your first building is framed and roofed, approximately 30 days before you open.

You should have three prices set now: pre-opening special price, grand opening price, and regular price.

14. Self-storage marketing is not much different than the marketing of many other small businesses. Start observing business marketing everywhere you go signs, mailings to your home and office, newspapers, and magazines. They will give you many great ideas.

15. The marketing possibilities are endless. Long before your doors open, create a marketing plan for the first year of business. It will pay you back many times over to have that plan already in place. A marketing calendar is important to have to keep track of the basic seasonal marketing.

16. Hire your manager 2 months before you open to learn your systems and hit the road to market your facility.

17. Great marketing consists of two things- being remarkable so people talk about you and building relationships. Make a list of everything you can do to be remarkable and a list of ways to build relationships online and offline. Implement them both now and continue to improve upon them.

18. The world of business, including self-storage, is rapidly changing due to the internet. More and more units are being rented online after business hours every day. Make sure your website takes actual rentals as well as reservations and payments.

19. Remember, you can’t rent units, sell units, or merchandise from behind the counter.

20. Why are people going to rent from you vs the facility down the street?

It is not because:

You have the best location.

You are the only storage in town.

You have the lowest price.

You have the best customer service.

You have the cleanest facility.

You have the best sales presentation.

You have candy on the counter.

You have the best security.

You offer free water and coffee.

You dress the best.

You promise them the most.

You have 10 sizes to choose from.

You give them the first month free.

You have the most features and benefits.

You won't raise their rent this year.

Your facility is open 24 hours a day.

You decorate your facility for each holiday.

You give them a free lock.

You have the best landscaping.

They rent from you because they like and trust you!

I learned a long time ago in my engineering business that people want to do business with people they like and trust. Or as I point out in my book, CRUSH YOUR COMPETITION, people rent from you because "it just feels right".

Trust and love make the world go round.

If you have a great facility and the marketing bells and whistles but are not renting to everyone who walks in the door, look for trust issues. Prepare written walk-in and phone-in rental scripts that must be followed.

Before you rent, people have to believe in you and in what you are promising. Belief comes first.

Earn trust, earn trust, and earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.

By the way, the only competition you have holding you back is yourself!

For a free copy of Marc's book, "Your Self Storage Planning - Site Selection - Design-Build"

Ed Clement is a franchise director at Storage Authority. One of his passions and responsibilities is helping franchisees find land by sharing how to find land both online and offline. Ed has a strong background in real estate, investment banking, and management consulting. He is available at or 727 946 0745 to answer your questions and share the Storage Authority Franchise opportunity.


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