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Operating a Class A Toy Storage Facility

By Charlie Fritts 

The operator of a truly first-class toy storage property must ensure the facilities, conditions and services meet the needs and expectations of the customers at all times. To attract the more expensive RVs, boats, classic cars, etc., and their owners, who are willing to pay top rents for the best accommodations, definitely requires the operator to provide a superior customer experience.

Appearance in terms of first impressions must be visually appealing as you near the property. This will include professional landscape plantings similar to those you might see at Class A hotels. Security fencing and gates should be decorative but functional. Black aluminum fencing creates a very nice appearance. There is no place for less expensive chain link fencing anywhere visible from the entrance to the property.

Buildings and canopies must have an esthetically pleasing appearance with matching color scheme. Bright exterior lighting denotes security and safety. Decorative lighting can highlight landscape plantings and prominent portions of buildings.

Security is of top importance to your customers who may be storing vehicles worth up to a million dollars. Security not only protects the stored property but also provides increased protection for customers who are onsite. Access-controlled entry with secure perimeter fencing, bright lighting and video security are essential. In some situations, staffing 24/7 may be necessary but is not the norm.

Features are a great attraction and usually expected from high-end customers. Typical high demand features that justify rent value include the following:

  • Access control with an associated smart phone app to open gates while inside the vehicle.
  • Electrical hookups to keep vehicle batteries charged.
  • Dump station to empty sewage tanks.
  • DIY vehicle wash stations.
  • Available trash disposal dumpster.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Onsite services to care for the tenants’ vehicles after a road trip or boat trip.

Below are various onsite services that should be additional income sources. Many of these can be provided by mobile vendors.

  • Mechanical services including oil change, HVAC and refrigeration service, tire repair.
  • Professional quality interior / exterior cleaning of toys.
  • Propane refilling.
  • Boat bumpers, wheel chocks, bug remover, safety equipment, etc., to purchase.
  • Winterization services including boat covers.
  • Pre-season preparation of toys in spring.
  • Installation of replacement parts or new equipment customers purchased independently.

RV and boat storage success will come from providing a superior customer experience, a good location, offering desirable services, features and pampering your customers where possible. Any onsite personnel must make a good appearance and possess great people skills.

Charlie Fritts started his self-storage career in 1990 with Sovran Self Storage doing business as Uncle Bob’s Self Storage (now Life Storage) as Vice President of Property Management. He left as a Sr. Vice President responsible for 160 properties in 20 states. He currently serves as Principal Owner and President of Storage Investment Management, a private storage management company. 

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