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Best Practices: Choosing Your Reservation Window

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Hopefully you're enjoying one of our favorite features - the ability to set a custom reservation window at your facility! A reservation window is the number of days in advance that you allow customers on SpareFoot to reserve units at your facility.

Setting your reservation window can be a tricky process - a reservation window that's too big might create operational friction at your facility whereas a reservation window that's too small might restrict your access to far too many storage-seeking customers on SpareFoot. Don't worry, we're here to help. This article includes our tried and true best practices, to help you make a decision that works best for your business and your market.

Need help setting a reservation window at your facility?
  • Click here if your inventory is integrated with your storage management software (like SiteLink Web Edition, Centershift, etc.)
  • Click here if you manage your SpareFoot inventory in MySpareFoot.

The numbers:

The graph below includes reservation data for 2014.

The numbers:

Reservations

  • 50% of reservations on SpareFoot were made for 0-2 days.
  • 45% of reservations on SpareFoot were made for 3-30 days.
  • The remaining 5% of reservations were for 30+ days.

Move-Ins

  • Move-in rate is the highest for move-ins between 0-1 days
  • Move-in rate stays fairly steady for move-ins between 2-14 days
  • Move-in rate tapers down after 30 days

We turn this data into actionable takeaways below, at both the facility and unit group levels.

We recommend:

The basic premise is that as occupancy goes up, reservation window goes down. But what does that really mean -- How low should you go? When should you pull the trigger? Great questions! Below we put forth some guidelines and recommendations based on our data as well as conversations with numerous self-storage operators.

Of course, you know your business best. So, the following guidelines are best considered in conjunction with your knowledge about your facility and your market.

Basics:

  • A 30-day window is a good place to start as your facility starts filling up. That's because you'll still capture 95% of customers at a high move-in rate.
  • Some operators never set their facility-level reservation window below 30 days, but they use our unit-level overrides to restrict reservation window on their highest-occupancy groups.
  • Unless your occupancy exceeds 98%, we advise against reservation windows below 14 days.
Tip: Learn how top operators use the "tenant walk" strategy to raise their rents when occupancy increases on The SpareFoot Blog.

Keep your facility live and active on SpareFoot!

If your facility has extremely high occupancy (>98%), consider restricting your reservation window to 1 or 2 days instead of hiding your facility from appearing on SpareFoot. This option makes sense because you:

  • Don't need to hold inventory for a long period of time when your occupancy is high.
  • Retain the visibility of SpareFoot's huge network of partners and affiliates.
  • Are prepared for the ebbs and flows of occupancy. It's important to always keep all of your marketing and acquisition channels active so there is a continuous stream of customers in your pipeline. That way, your facility doesn't take a large/long occupancy hit if a lot of customers move out or you hold an auction at your facility.
  • Can add unit-level rules to be shorter (e.g., 1 day) or longer (e.g., 3 days) for inventory where you have more or less availability.

Don't forget the unit-group overrides

SpareFoot lets you set a standard reservation window for your facility, and you can also apply exceptions (longer or shorter windows) for specific unit groups. We strongly advise using this feature, as it:

  • Provides you with the ultimate in flexibility; you can customize your SpareFoot experience to be ideal for you.
  • Enables you to intelligently maximize your SpareFoot traffic by allowing more lenient rules on unit groups that are less occupied.

Think critically about the unit group mix at your facility and use SpareFoot's custom reservation window capability as a strategic tool to get the right customers into the right units at the right time. Some broad strokes guidelines are:

  • 2 day windows make sense for units at extremely high occupancy
  • 7 days windows make sense for units at high occupancy
  • 30 day windows make sense for units at typical occupancy
  • 60 day windows make sense for units at low occupancy

Read on for additional items to consider when you're thinking about setting custom reservation windows.

Use SpareFoot incrementally:

SpareFoot's major value to storage facility operators is that we provide access to incremental storage tenants, customers you wouldn't be able to reach on your own. That same value is applicable when thinking about your reservation window.

Most website vendors only allow you to set one reservation window for all of your units. Let's say your website is set across the board at 14 days and your facility is 85% occupied. You might consider setting your SpareFoot reservation window to 14 days to match your website, but adding unit-group exceptions for your low-occupancy unit groups for a longer window (perhaps 21 or 30 days). That way, you can use SpareFoot to increase traffic to the unit groups where you need it most.

Consider your market:

Head to SpareFoot.com and conduct a search for your area. Enter a "planned move-in" date that matches the reservation window you're thinking of setting.

  • If most facilities have a similar window, you're good to go!
  • If you bump out the move-in date on your search by a few days and you see that most facilities fall out of eligible results, you might want to consider extending your window to cover that gap. That way, you can ensure you'll get all the traffic in the area looking to move-in during that period.

Remember customer expectations!

Whatever reservation window(s) you set for yourself, remember what customers using SpareFoot expect. Most importantly, they're expecting their reserved unit to be available on move-in day. Some things to consider:

  • If your storage management software automatically deletes/cancels reservations after a certain number of days, you should make sure your SpareFoot reservation window matches your software, so you don't inadvertently cancel on a SpareFoot customer.
  • If you're using a CRM (like SiteLink Web Edition, e-soft-sys, or Salesforce.com) and can set tasks to stay on top of your prospects, consider a longer reservation window.

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