By: Chris Koenig
Cambridge Dictionary defines “The bigger the better” as: How much you value or want something is decided by how big it is.
I was recently speaking with an RV and boat storage owner when we got into a discussion about demand for vehicle storage compared to traditional self-storage. At first, we talked about facility location and how many miles a site should be from tenants’ houses, but quickly we came to the revelation that RV and boat storage customers like things BIG compared to self-storage customers!
Granted this conversation was with a Texas native, but it still sent us down a rabbit hole of mental exploration to come to the realization that, subconsciously, customers of RV and boat storage facilities want their storage facility to be irrationally BIG. As consumers, we are marketed to our subconscious desires and obviously our online search history, but for the RV and boat storage world, the customer’s toy is large and in charge.
When you step back and think about it, these RVs are three- to five-times larger than a typical automobile and two- to three-times larger than a typical SUV. These large RVs and boats are the prototypical alpha males on the road; the Argentinosaurus of the dinosaur pack in a sea of minion vehicles just traveling from point A to point B. If they could speak, they would tell all other vehicles on the road, “You are beneath me.”
What does this have to do with designing a Class-A RV and boat storage facility? A lot! Think of Las Vegas or even Disneyland when you are thinking about design and architectural elements. This might sound odd from the self-storage realm but, as discussed above, we want to market to the subconscious.
That means, the entry gates need to be large and in charge. We don’t want a 6-foot chain link fence; no, we want 10-foot metal/wrought iron fences that are indestructible. The customer wants to believe a military tank could not make it through that fence and sure as heck no civilian could just scale that fence in 30 seconds. Perception is reality. We don’t want 6-foot stone or concrete columns; we want them 3- to 4-feet taller than our fence. These need to be our protective gates! The entry gate better be large and in charge since that’s the first line of defense. If it isn’t at least 8- to 10-feet tall then you should redesign the site plan.
I’ve seen facilities with cattle fencing, posts with dangling chains that you could hop-step over, chain link with razor wire and everything in-between. While this type of protection might make sense to the owner, it begs the question: Does the consumer perceive this same perception of protection for their toy?
I’d say three times out of five, the answer is no. We need to cater to the customer’s wants and desires, whether known or unknown to the consumer. These desires are big entry gates, big perimeter fences, big (maybe) office or at least tower/signage elements, big everything and anything you can have on-site. Have a big ice machine, which will get used once a day on average but buy one that you’d put into a Cheesecake Factory in downtown Manhattan. It will probably cost $6,000, but it’s for the cause. Have a customer bathroom? Make it big! You get the idea.
Bigger is better in the Class-A RV & Boat storage businesses. If you think it is too big, or big enough, make it bigger!
Chris Koenig is Managing Member of Kingsland Companies LLC, a self-storage and RV/boat storage development, investment and management company.
To learn more great tips about the industry from Chris Koenig, sign up for the Toy Storage Nation Executive Workshop hosted in Las Vegas, April 14, when Chris will be leading a presentation to address the following hot topics:
- Why it’s important to provide customers a fully automated move-in experience.
- How to go from a Class A to Class A+ Boat & RV facility with technology.
- How technology has improved the tenant onboarding experience and what it means to operators.
For more information and to register, visit: https://toystoragenation.com/las-vegas-2023-event/