RV and Boat Ownership: How Can Your Self-Storage Business Benefit?



There are seven houses on my block with RVs parked in the driveway or in the yard. Seven. On one block. A year ago, only three of these residences had these huge motorhomes. A neighbor of mine spent several weeks this year adding a huge door and awning for his mega RV.

Fortunately for these residents, we don’t live in a neighborhood with restrictive policies, so they can park their toys at home. Many RV and boat owners are not so lucky. They need a safe place for these vehicles when they are not on the road or on the water. Why shouldn’t this be your self-storage facility?

Interest in recreational vehicles and boats has increased since the start of the pandemic. RV shipments in 2021 are expected to reach more than half a million units, an increase of almost 24% from the previous year. Likewise, boat sales hit a 13-year high last year. When you think about it, boats and RVs are the ultimate means of social distancing!

The vehicle storage offering can greatly benefit your self-storage business. These high-end spaces typically rent more than a traditional unit, and there is a huge demand for the service in many markets. These tenants often stay longer and are good customers who pay on time because they have no intention of putting their accommodation up for auction. Many will even rent an air-conditioned unit to store their vacation gear. In addition, offering more services and ancillary products will help your establishment stand out from the competition.

So how can you capitalize on the RV and boat craze? First, you need to determine if your market is truly suitable for the service. Properties near highways, recreation areas, and water bodies work well with this product. Even if your property doesn’t fall into one of these categories, your market could still be top notch.

Just like you wouldn’t add a new storage building without doing some research, you also shouldn’t be guessing at this company. You need to know if there is a demand for boat and RV storage in your area. Hiring someone to do a feasibility study can determine that.

If your market is up and running then you need to decide what type of vehicle storage to offer. There are many options, from a simple uncovered parking area on gravel, grass or dirt; with the addition of sidewalk and covered parking. Another option is a building dedicated to the storage of boats and recreational vehicles. These units are larger and have larger doors. In addition, you can increase your income for outdoor parking by adding solar awnings. There are even discounts and other incentives that can help you with construction costs.

Vehicle storage is not a new concept, but it is getting more and more sophisticated. And more complicated. Take this operator who posted a thread on Self-Storage Talk about calls in March from people looking for storage for their boats this summer. These places fill up quickly, especially in markets where demand is high.

Renters of boat and RV storage also have very different needs than those who choose traditional storage spaces. Many prefer to store in facilities that offer extended access hours and more amenities such as wash bays and dump stations. Security is definitely a priority for these tenants, so if your site is failing you will need to make some adjustments.

If you plan to add this profit center to your business, you should also make sure that you cover your legal and insurance bases. This includes adjustments to the lease, your trade insurance, and the way you handle lien sales.

Just like any business venture, you will need to weigh the pros and cons. If you have excess land that doesn’t generate any income or are building a new site, consider vehicle storage. There certainly is: more and more people are buying boats and RVs, and many will need a place to park them.


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