This time of year almost everyone is looking at what they have accomplished over the past 12 months and what they had planned on but didn’t get to. Individuals and business owners alike should take a few moments at this time of year to reflect on ways they can make things better for 2017. We’ve talked with a few self-storage owners and have come up with these 5 great ways you can maximize revenue at your facility in 2017.
1. Raise Rents
Raising rents is, by far, one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase revenue at a storage facility. Of course, it isn’t always the best for customer service. A variety of factors should be considered when determining the best way to raise rents for your facility. You should consider occupancy. If you are only at 60%, raising rents is probably not a good idea. Conversely, if you are at 90% occupancy, raising rents absolutely makes sense.
In addition to overall occupancy, consider occupancy for specific unit types. Do you have a waiting list for 5×5’s because they are in such high demand? Consider raising rents by unit type. In any rent raise scenario, it is possible that a few tenants won’t be happy and vacate. The good news is that if a few tenants move out, the tenants who remain will be paying a higher rent and more than likely make up for the difference and you will have MORE units of that type available to rent at a higher scheduled rate.
2. Evaluate Your Web Presence
Is your website optimized for mobile? Can people look for storage in your area find you when searching Google or Yelp for a place to store their stuff? Can potential tenants rent or reserve a unit online?
If your answer isn’t yes to all of the above questions then evaluating your web presence should definitely be on your list for 2016. We are definitely in a digital age. People want access to information right when they think about it. Your facility is more likely to receive their business if they can find you from any device, including their phone. Once you get them to your site, the best way to secure their business is by giving them the ability to make a commitment RIGHT THEN by either renting or reserving a unit. Your self-storage management software provider should be able to assist you in setting up website and eCommerce solutions for your facility.
3. Review Advertising / Lead Tracking
Reviewing your advertising over the past 12 months can really help in 2 ways. 1) It will allow you to cut costs by eliminating advertising methods that didn’t yield results throughout the year and 2) It will allow you to focus on what DID work. Source tracking for incoming calls, rentals, and reservations is an extremely crucial part of advertising. With some facilities investing hundreds or even thousands into their advertising campaigns each month, your managers must ALWAYS ask for a source when talking to new prospects. Make sure that you have a good way to track this information. QuikStor’s self-storage management software has a user-definable source list and reports made specifically for this purpose. Worst case scenario a spreadsheet could work too. What is important is that your managers get details. “Internet” isn’t a good source category. “Google Ad” is GREAT! Aside from online advertising, were people seeing your banner as they drove by? Were they being referred by friends? Was it local businesses sending tenants your way? Whatever the case is, by identifying what worked and what didn’t you can formulate a plan for your storage facility for 2016.
4. Lower Your Credit Card Processing Rates
This is something not many owners may think to re-evaluate each year but it is just as important as evaluating any other component of your business. Can you get a better processing rate? First off, if you don’t currently run credit cards at your facility GET STARTED NOW! Unless you are sitting at 99% occupancy with all cash/check based tenants there really is no reason you shouldn’t be running credit cards. It’s one more avenue to encourage rentals and ensure on-time payments. By accepting credit cards, you can set up tenants on Auto-Pay, i.e. the software automatically charges their card when the rent is due.
The storage industry, in general, is very competitive when it comes to credit card rates. Due to the nature of the business, rates should always be better than what a typical “retail” store might have to pay. You have a secured debt, the customer’s belongings. From a merchant processors standpoint, tenants are less likely to issue a chargeback or use a fraudulent card because the facility has their belongings as collateral. Industry rates are at an all-time low. Look at your most recent merchant processing statement for your facility. Are you paying a monthly fee? Are you paying per-transaction fees? What about batch fees? Are you paying more than 1.99% for ALL Visa and MasterCard transactions regardless of whether the card was swiped? Is your merchant processor integrated directly into your software?
At QuikStor we’re proud to work with a self-storage credit card processor who is able to offer processing for 1.99% flat rate with no setup fees, no monthly fees, no batch fees, no per-transaction fees to all of our self-storage management software users.
5. Secure Your Facility
Does your facility have a gate? What about access control keypads or surveillance cameras? Think about security from your tenants point of view. They are going to pay money each month to leave their stuff with you for safe keeping. How do you ensure their belongings are safe? For 2017 you should evaluate security at your facility. What can you do to make it better?
Access Control: If you don’t already have a gated facility with access control keypads that should, absolutely, be your first step. Self-storage keypads typically integrate directly with your chosen software provider to determine who should have access and who should be locked out. This helps to increase your revenue in 2 ways. 1) It offers peace of mind to potential tenants and 2) it helps to prevent delinquent tenants from just cutting their overlock, taking their stuff and skipping out on the bill. A keypad system should be cost effective easy to install and most gate technicians/electricians can handle the job easily. Most storage facility owners would be pleased to find that the keypads more than pay for themselves over the course of a year or two.
Video Surveillance: Already have access control? The next logical step is video cameras. With 16 channel DVR’s standard now you can start with cameras at your main entry points and have room to add more as your budget allows. Cameras allow you and your managers to see who is coming and going to the facility. In the event something happens, you can review the footage and provide it to any third party who may need it.
Unit Alarms: Set yourself apart from the other facilities in your area with individual door alarms. Wireless door alarms integrate with your existing access control solution to provide an added level of security.
Tenants enter their access code at the gate which disarms their unit(s) alarm(s). When they exit, the units are re-armed. In the event of a break in the siren sounds and managers can be alerted. While both wired and wireless options are available in the industry, a wireless solution can be implemented at any facility without needing to gain access to the unit. The best thing about wireless is you don’t have to do the whole facility at once. Start with one building and add more as demand increases! You can and should charge more for alarmed units.
We hope you have enjoyed these 5 tips on increasing revenue for your facility in the 2017 year. Remember that you can set business goals at ANY time of the year. If something isn’t working, change it! If something is working, figure out how to make it better! Get your managers involved. See what thoughts and ideas they have. Task each of them with coming up with 10 ways to increase revenue. A self-storage business is just like any other. It must be actively managed to see the most success!