Stage now for selling in the New Year

Getting homes readied for sale often means staging them for maximum buyer interest. This ranges from formal staging of homes to seller do-it-yourself efforts to tidy up and enliven their properties.

While real estate agents can work with sellers to help them accomplish varying degrees of home-sale readiness, you can augment seller awareness and knowledge while boosting your on-site traffic and hopefully revenues. Start a "home staging center" at your facility this winter-and start building now for the spring selling season.

You operate a self-storage facility comprised of-guess what-ready-made staging showcases. Put vacant units to good use by establishing a place where home organizers, stagers, decorators, painters, home remodelers and related companies can "set up shop" free of charge and promote their services and products on-site. While right now the focus likely will be on home sales, you can establish this as a year-around opportunity if all goes well-offering spaces to different companies at different times for pre-arranged terms of a week to a month or more.

Given the nature of this setup, your temporary tenants will be able to come and go as they please. They can set up appointments to meet prospects or clients on-site, and maintain their space without your having to get involved. And, showcasing companies will bring people to your property, providing an up-close-and-personal look when they're thinking about issues near and dear to the hearts of self-storage owners-decluttering their homes for staging, downsizing, et al.

As part of the perk, promote on-site presence of these firms to your tenant base. You also can use this as an incentive to prospects, with you serving as a liaison to introduce would-be tenants to useful service and product providers as warranted.

Of course, you can always ramp up the scope of the effort by creating seasonal promotions around your showcased units, and promoting them to the community-at-large. Traffic, increased buzz and enhanced sales are likely benefits for you along with those showcasing on-site. (These events are added perks for your present tenants as well.)

You also can leverage existing on-site promotions, such as auctions, which bring groups of people to your facility. Showcasers could open shop on an auction day, and attendees can check them out while on the property.

To keep this manageable for you and easily ramped up, here are some quick tips for "rapid deployment" and maintenance of this promotion:

1. Check out your existing vendors along with those on vendors.selfstorage.com. While some of our firms cater solely to the self-storage industry, many offer services to individual homeowners as well (e.g., painting, construction, remodeling). This gives you a quick way to get traction AND build relationship with companies you either are using presently or may want to work with in the future. One good turn deserves another-need we say more?

2. Develop a streamlined cross-promotional strategy, whereby your showcased firms sing your praises as appropriate and vice versa. This can range from marketing each other on company websites to inclusion in print ads, and everything in between. In many cases, this can be done as a no-cost or certainly low-cost service by each to the other.

3. Figure out upfront how you want to present the opportunity to potential showcase companies. Based on average numbers of vacant units and typical sales cycles, you can project a "safe" number of vacancies over a period of time. Depending on your circumstances, this may mean offering free showcase space a week or a month at a time.

Get very clear, then make it very clear to showcase firms, about the rules of engagement to hopefully eliminate later misunderstandings. For example, be crystal clear about how much "notice" you will give to vacate a unit that's just been rented. Or, you may discover that a particular business association warrants providing that unit free of charge over the mid-to-long-term in exchange for items or services of value from its occupant.

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