Reservations Hinder More Than Help; Rentals are the Way to Go

Reservations Hinder More Than Help; Rentals are the Way to Go

In recent times, there has been a plethora of online marketing solutions available for those in the self storage industry – search engines that exclusively list self storage facilities, services which offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and custom website design. Choosing the right marketing initiative can be a challenge and the savvy self storage marketer should be careful to consider budget and need before making such a choice.

For example, a large self storage facility like Public Storage, can afford to build its own website and undertake major online marketing campaigns whereas small to mid-sized facilities may be better off enlisting the assistance of a self storage search engine or storage locator such as, to increase their visibility and online presence. A local storage facility with only one location might not need its own feature- rich website and independent marketing initiatives. In examining which initiative is best for your self storage facility, it is wise to consider the available resources and the time and cost involved in bringing these initiatives to fruition.

The main factor that differentiates rentals from reservations is the significant increase in ‘definite’ revenue and profits as oppose to possible earnings. It also offers a guarantee that the rental unit will be available to the customer. In order to fully grasp this concept, it is necessary to examine the pitfalls that are inherent in the current reservations model. Many self-storage marketing companies often emphasize reservations when promoting self storage to potential customers. The concept is simple; users are allowed to reserve storage units online with a few clicks and that’s basically it. Where is the obligation or commitment? Customers can continue shopping around until they find the best deal while subsequently making multiple reservations at various facilities. Reservations suggest an intent or inquiry. The hospitality industry—in particular credible properties, long ago became frustrated with reservations that didn’t materialize into check-ins. Cancellation policies were implemented for customers on the fence or simply putting a toe in the water.

What is the advantage for the storage facility owner to rely on reservations? According to Inside Self Storage magazine, 52 percent of customers reserving a unit online typically choose a 10x10 or larger. Generally this would mean more revenue for the facility owner but this is not often the case. Though often employed, the concept of reservations isn’t as beneficial financially, especially when owner/operators pay for leads that may not equal actual move-ins. Also, with some self storage aggregators, the fees charged for “leads” or “reservations” supersede the monthly rental rates on certain unit sizes. If a customer reserves a unit, and takes advantage of a special—such as one month’s free rent, and then moves out after a month, the storage facility would have undoubtedly lost money. After the storage facility owner pays, for example, $75 per lead, it would take them at least a few months to hopefully break even.

Simply put, if fees per lead or reservation are $75; and the monthly rental rate on a 5x5 is $34, it will take three months before a profit is generated.

Another issue with the reservations model is customers are not obligated to fulfill reservations requests. This is particularly damaging when there are a low number of units of a particular size. A unit is then not made available for a potential customer who may have rented the unit immediately rather than reserved it. Inside Self Storage magazine also states that when the reservation is secured with a deposit, the move-in rate is 95 percent greater. has a novel business concept – “Make Money Now” with rentals. focuses on rentals as opposed to reservations. With rentals, there is guaranteed revenue for the facility owner. Customers have added incentive to use In addition to any specials the facility may offer, offers 10% more off of the rental.

Finally, rentals are a more secure, efficient, and a more convenient way of guaranteeing success for your self storage business as well as your customers.