Messenger Xtra: Get in Gear! Revving Up Revenue with Rental Trucks
By CJ Steen
Nowadays consumers can get haircuts, complete eye exams, grab lunch, buy groceries, cash checks, pick up prescriptions, fill up gas tanks, and much more, all under one roof. And the success of these superstores is proof that customers prefer the convenience of one-stop shopping. Therefore, being able to provide self-storage customers with as many conveniences as possible is key.
A storage facility with moving trucks has the ability to provide customers with all their moving needs in one location and simplify the move-in process. Most customers appreciate having access to a free rental truck to avoid wasting time on multiple trips, even if they had planned to use a pickup truck to move into your facility. As a matter of fact, offering rental trucks at your storage facility is a practical way to add value that can, in turn, drive revenue.
While most self-storage facilities have some form of move-in special to attract new tenants, many of those specials involve giving away free or drastically reduced rent. Although a free month’s rent is a great incentive for a new tenant, this is a deal that can have a detrimental effect on a facility’s income. And with storage demand on the rise, it’s time to switch gears.
Offering the free use of a truck as a move-in special can benefit both the customer and the property’s bottom line. It’s a great option that enables facility’s to make money while providing a valuable service. Alternatively, items such as hand trucks, furniture pads or blankets, lifting straps, and other moving accessories could be provided for free as a way to entice customers to pay for truck rentals.
Managers can utilize moving trucks as a closing tool as well. For example, a wavering customer may be willing to sign a lease if the free use of a truck is thrown into the mix, especially if he or she needed to find transportation in order to haul items in the first place. Once again, moving trucks could be supplied in lieu of other more expensive concessions such as deeply discounted rent.
Moving trucks enable storage facilities to offer extra services to customers while creating opportunities for various forms of ancillary income. Although additional liability insurance may be required in your state, moving and delivery services have proven to be successful in some areas. You could also consider hiring a part-time employee to load and unload the trucks at the facility for the tenants. Another convenient service facilities can offer is a “hassle-free return” that allows customers to return the truck without cleaning it or filling the gas tank. It’s an attractive option for customers who are pressed for time and a service that could command a premium fee. In addition, fees can be charged for optional waivers related to the truck rentals such as damage waivers.
Of course, truck rentals add revenue on their own. Many companies that lease rental trucks allow the storage operator to set their own truck rental rates. This can greatly increase a truck’s earning potential, however operators should shop the competition before determining their rates in order to be competitive in the marketplace.
The self-storage facilities that get the most bang for their buck have various truck rental rates and specials based on customer usage. Premium rates should be set for weekends and holidays as well as during peak rental seasons. Since most customers move over the weekends, advertising discounted rates for mid-week rentals is a simple tactic to increase business during slow times. As an example, compared to mid-week rates, weekend truck rental rates should cost around $10 more per day and 10 cents more per mile. As for free move-in truck rentals, to make best use of the truck, during the weekends the length of time that a customer has access to a rental truck should be based on the size of the unit being rented. Obviously, someone moving into a 5-by-5 doesn’t need an entire day to haul their belongings. Renting trucks by the hour or predetermined time frames is another lucrative option for weekend rentals.
Keep in mind that, in addition to renting to the public for one-way or local moves, trucks can be rented to local businesses. Loyalty cards can be created for commercial clients to garner repeat business.
Besides providing an additional revenue stream, rental trucks are an effective marketing tool. Trucks can be wrapped with eye-catching graphics that tout a facility’s contact information and features. In essence, a rental truck with graphics turns into a moving billboard that generate leads for the self-storage store. In fact, rental trucks generate 600 visual impressions for every mile driven and 16 million visual impressions per year. What’s more, rental trucks act as signage for facilities wherever they are parked. When not in use, trucks should be parked in front of the facility so potential customers can see them.
While trucks are a form of signage whether mobile or stationary, it is important to remember that there are more branding opportunities when they are on the road. With that in mind, it is important to keep the trucks moving. Facilities can increase their exposure by loaning trucks to local charities, churches, schools, and other clubs and organizations. In addition, get involved with community events such as parades and fundraisers for even more visibility. Providing complimentary truck rentals is a surefire way to generate a positive image and additional business through appreciation and recommendations.
Don’t forget to include information about your rental trucks in all of your facility’s marketing materials. Flyers, signage, websites, advertisements, and the like, should mention that your self-storage site has moving trucks available. With marketing in mind, operators can choose to sell advertising space on the back door of trucks for yet another source of revenue.
In addition, it is beneficial to have some sort of referral program in place to encourage your customers and tenants to recommend your facility, trucks, and services to others. Design your referral programs to be both effortless and appealing. Customers won’t be interested in a referral program that requires too much time for a small reward. Furthermore, establishing referral programs or partnerships with local real estate offices, apartment complexes, and other similar businesses is an easy way to acquire additional storage and truck rentals.
Above all, be sure to remember that the quality, reliability, and aesthetics of your trucks will be noted by your customers. Good products lead to referrals and repeat business, therefore it is imperative to keep your trucks clean and in operable condition.
CJ Steen is the marketing director of On The Move, Inc. She can be reached at (800) 645-9949.