Negotiation is a skill that Americans rarely get to utilize. Try as you might, haggling doesn’t really work in retail stores— prices are fixed and the employee taking payment typically has no control over those prices. The primary negotiating experience we deal with is buying a car or a house. But in some cases, you can also haggle a price of a self-storage unit. SpareFoot has four tips for negotiating a self-storage rate: Shop around online first, find the best posted price, try for group discounts or referral bonuses, or lock in a lower rate by signing for a longer rental period.
1. Shop around online
Finding the best storage facility for your needs can be tough. There are a number of factors to consider, and few online resources outline everything you need to know about a storage unit. Traditionally, you’d hit the Yellow Pages and individually call every facility in your area, asking the same series of questions:
- How much is a 10×10 unit?
- Is the unit climate-controlled?
- Is it inside or outside?
- Is it on the second (or third) floor?
- Is there an elevator?
Online self-storage directories can help reduce the time and effort spent on this process by allowing you to search and compare facilities all in one place. SpareFoot lists more self storage facilities than any other online storage search engine, and we also provide average local pricing data. Just browse our city pages for this information, which can help determine what price range you should shop within.
2. Find the best posted price
Even if you’ve already decided on a storage facility, it’s worth taking a quick look online to see if any special lower rates are posted. Some storage facilities have seperate walk-in rates and promotional rates, much like any other service business looking to promote itself. Check for exclusive rates you may qualify for, such as military or student discounts.
Do a quick search in Google for the name of your facility, and check some of the popular websites that display deals. Look for online-only offers on SpareFoot, SelfStorage.com, SelfStorageDeals.com, the facility’s website, Google Places, Yelp, and even the company’s Twitter or Facebook page.
Even if a particular deal isn’t on the table anymore (for example, a student storage discount that only applied to the high-volume month of May), you may be able to mention the deal and initiate the negotiation process.
Some facilities offer a free disc lock or free short-term truck rental. Note that a disc lock usually costs about $10 at a local hardware store.
3. Go for a group discount or referral bonus
If you work for a company or are a member of an organization that commonly relies on storage (like pharmaceutical reps who need to store drug samples), you may be able to work out a group deal if you rent storage units together. Get three or more people on board, find a facility that meets everyone’s needs and ask the manager about a group discount. Any facility with a few vacant units would gladly take the small hit in profit margin to rent three or more units at once.
Another option is to ask about a referral bonus. Depending on occupancy rate, most facilities are willing to help you out in return for helping them increase profits. The most common referral bonus is $25 back, or one month of free rent in exchange for your successful referral of a friend to the facility.
4. Lock in a lower rate with a longer-term contract
While most storage facilities rent on a month-to-month basis, some storage facilities offer a formal discount for your commitment to a longer time period. One example is a summer storage discount that many facilities offer for college students— it’s a flat rate that applies to the entire three-month period. If you know you’ll be renting for more than a few months, ask the facility manager if you can get a discount for committing to a longer term.
You may be able to get a lower six-month or yearlong rate if you contract to longer-term periods, instead of opting for regular month-to-month leasing. Once you sign such a commitment, avoid cancelling early as you may be responsible for a cancellation fee and/or the remainder of rent due on the lease.
If you’re already going in with a steep online discount or other negotiation points, you probably won’t be able to add on a term discount. But signing a longer-term contract still benefits the facility because they are guaranteed revenue from that unit, and benefits you because your rate will be locked in for the entire period. Note that facilities raise rent on existing tenants from time to time, and some limit promotional rates to only count toward your first six months in the unit anyway.
Although some storage facilities have very hard pricing and will be unable to negotiate, the facility manager usually has some leeway with pricing to help secure tenants. With these tips and some basic negotiation skills, you could save a few hundred dollars per year on self-storage.
Photo courtesy of Inc.com