As they compete for your business, self-storage facilities often offer discounts that can help you keep more of your cash in your pocket, where it belongs.
Price breaks come in many forms. If you’re a senior, member of the military, a student or simply a new customer, a discount may be waiting for you. Discounts typically are offered to boost tenant occupancy or to help facilities compete with other storage businesses.
The higher the vacancy rate, the more likely facilities are to reduce prices, said Don Arsenault, vice president of the Washington State Self Storage Association. The goal is to attract new customers without cutting too deeply into profit.
“If there is an excess of demand, you are not going to be giving discounts because you don’t have to,” Arsenault said of facility operators. “Should there be more supply than demand, you will do everything you can to bring people in.”
Variety of Discounts
Some storage properties reduce prices in exchange for long-term rental agreements. This can work to a renter’s advantage if he or she doesn’t plan to move their belongings soon. It’s also common for businesses to offer the free use of moving trucks for new customers. Some have move-in packages that include such things as free locks, boxes and packing materials.
SpareFoot analyzed 1,270 unique promotions nationwide among its customers to determine the types of discounts that are offered most frequently. A snapshot of activity on Feb. 1, 2013, found that:
- 13 percent of self-storage facilities offered the first month of rent free.
- 25 percent offered discounts other than the free rent for the first month.
- 18 percent offered free items to new tenants.
- 8 percent offered move-in specials.
- 9 percent offered free rent for an agreed-upon number of months, if the new renters remained tenants for a specified time.
- 27 percent offered other types of discounts.
How Long Will You Need Storage?
You should negotiate the best deal you can whenever you rent a storage unit, because you could end up renting longer than you think. Many renters who plan to stay only a brief time often end up becoming long-term tenants, says John Manes, chief operations officer of The Jenkins Organization Inc. The Houston company specializes in self-storage acquisitions, development and management.
“The average customer, when you ask them how long they are going to stay, they typically say three or four months, but on average the length of stay is between nine and 10,” Manes said.
Sometimes you can score discounts after you become a tenant, said Bob Winet, a former self-storage facility owner who now is a self-storage consultant. Winet said it’s common for facility mangers to offer price breaks to tenants who provide customer referrals.
“When I was operating self-storage facilities, we made the tenants aware they would get a reduction in rent for a month if they referred a new customer to us,” he said.
Too Good to be True?
Mary Harris, manager of a storage facility in Cary, NC, said that you sometimes get what you pay for. If the discount you’re offered sounds too good to be true, it would be smart to check whether the facility is properly maintained.
“Some are better than others,” she said. “Some are well-kept; some are not. Some are old; some have bad lighting.”
Storage businesses benefit most from discounts when they’re receiving numerous inquiries but not closing rental agreements, Manes said. The cause may be failure to market aggressively.
Arsenault said some self-storage managers are reluctant to offer discounts because they fear they’ll lower the value of their units. Even so, they may be open to negotiation. Before you walk away from any facility over high prices, you should ask for a discount.
When faced with the prospect of seeing you take your business elsewhere, many managers will be open to making a deal. If you don’t ask, Arsenault said, you’ll never know.
UPDATE: If you are a member of the military and are in need of storage, SpareFoot has just created MilitaryStorage.com which exclusively lists facilities offering military discounts.