There’s a saying in Florida that there are two types of people: Those who are boaters and those who plan to be boaters. Whether this is a Sunshine State phenomenon or not, it’s no surprise. Recreational boating has been a thing ever since kings and their royal regattas took to the Thames River in England back in the mid-1600s. Of course, today recreational boating is not just for royalty. From small fishing and sailing boats to large yachts and schooners, many everyday captains and their crews are getting out on the water and enjoying nautical pleasures.
In America alone, QuickNav statistics reveal that nearly 100 million people go boating each year, and nearly 12 percent of US households own a recreational boat (sales surged 40 percent during the COVID pandemic, making boat ownership more popular than ever). Another interesting statistic? The average boat in the US is operated just 54 days per year. That means that many boat owners need a place to keep their vessel when they're not navigating open waters. It would seem that self storage would sell itself in these instances, but it helps to know different ways to give boat owners that extra push they need to store at your facility versus a marina or their own home.
10 Ways To Sell Boat Owners On The Benefits Of Self-Storage Facilities
1. “It’s Less Expensive Than A Boat Slip Or Dry Dock.”
While the cost of a boat slip or dry dock can vary significantly depending on boat size, location, amenities, and more, in general self-storage facilities will cost a captain significantly less money. “Indoor high and dry facilities will come with the highest price tag… self-storage and boatyards will be the lowest-priced options,” confirms Yacht World. To be sure this is the case, research and compare prices from different marinas and boatyards to be sure your pricing is competitive or less than the alternatives to give you an edge.
2. “Hurry – Space Is Limited!”
FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is real – and it can be a persuasive selling technique. According to the 2023 Self-Storage Almanac, which looked at 1,100 facilities offering boat storage, there is currently an imbalance between supply and demand, which will keep occupancy rates elevated. If someone is on the fence about using self-storage to store their boat, space may not be available when they decide the option is right for them. Make sure they understand that now is the time to reserve their spot. They may become a tenant for fear of missing out on an available spot!
3. “We Offer Off-Season Storage.”
For much of the country, recreational boating is a seasonal pastime. During the off-season, many need a place to safely store their boat. Of course, not everyone has enough space at their residence to store a boat and some may be restricted by HOA rules (more on that in #7). Highlight your self-storage facility as a practical solution, allowing boat owners to keep their vessels in a secure location until the weather warms up again.
4. “We Provide Top-Notch Security Technology.”
Boats are a big expense for many owners, so they want to be sure their ‘toy’ is protected. While many marinas may have an on-site security guard at the entrance, they are less likely to have sophisticated types of security that can be found at some self-storage facilities. This is even more true for boatyards, which may simply rely on a perimeter fence to keep people out.
If your facility is equipped with sophisticated security, make this a selling feature. In addition to perimeter security, highlight access control systems that limit facility access to authorized visitors. Many of these systems with cloud-based software also equip facility’s staff with next-generation monitoring and control capabilities. A technology-forward video surveillance system that allows you to respond to incidents in real time is another big selling point for boat owners. If your monitoring service leverages Artificial Intelligence to ensure the property is always being watched, make this known.
5. “Convenience Counts!”
Boat owners love the convenience of accessing their vessels whenever they need to without the hassle of towing them to and from a marina or boatyard – just be sure the facility also makes for easy accessibility. “As someone who previously worked at a marina on Florida’s East Coast, I can attest to the challenge of navigating large vehicles in tight areas,” writes Chadwick Macferran in our story on boat storage. “However, convenient access to the facility and individual units are just as important as wide aisles and space for maneuvering large vehicles.”
Macferran says that if you’re employing cutting-edge security or considering security enhancements, this often improves the convenience factor anyhow. For example, keypads featuring full system integration deliver convenience by enabling tenants to securely access facilities any time they want. From an operational standpoint, integrated keypads also give you the flexibility to allow access to specific areas of the site. If the operation offers a combination of traditional and boat storage, the system can be configured to limit tenant access to the area that corresponds to their specific unit or vessel. The same restricted access capabilities apply to boat-specific areas like uncovered parking, covered parking, and premium enclosed units.
Similar convenience-rich features can be found in door systems that provide enhanced, personalized security and solutions that allow tenants to achieve gate or unit access via their personal devices.
6. “We Make Maintenance Easy.”
Boats require a lot of TLC (scraping barnacles from the bottom, applying hull paint, fixing mechanical issues, and so on). This isn’t always easy to do when it’s on the water. Allowing tenants to work on their boat on your facility property, or providing an area where they can clean their vessel after use before putting it back into storage, can be a big selling point.
7. “Get The HOA Off Your Back!”
There are nearly 360,000 homeowners associations (HOAs) in the US, representing more than 40 million households. Those living under HOA rules must obey the governing documents, many of which limit the owner’s choices – including the right to keep boats on property. Making this more of a hardship for boat owners, less than 14 percent of existing HOAs offer storage and/or parking for watercrafts within their communities. So, the only option is to find an off-site boat storage facility.
Many savvy self-storage developers have been able to build their storage facilities within the confines of the HOA-governed community, or nearby, alleviating the boat storage problem for these residents. If you’re located near HOA-restricted neighborhoods where boating is a popular pastime, offering boat storage can be highly lucrative and beneficial to boat owners. Read more in our story RV & Boat Storage: Understanding the Industry.
8. “Show Mother Nature Who’s Boss!”
Exposure to the elements such as sun, rain, and snow can take a toll on a boat's appearance and performance. Indoor or covered storage options in self-storage facilities help protect boats from Mother Nature and subsequent weather-related damage. This can also be important in coastal areas where flooding and hurricanes can be a big concern when it comes to boat slips.
9. “Temporary Storage? No Problem.”
The surge in boat ownership over the years has resulted in a shortage of boat slips and dry dock storage. Because of the demand, many marinas lock people into 6-month stays (or longer), and breaking that contract can cost a pretty penny. Because of this, temporary storage of boats, for people who are between homes, moving, or going on an extended trip – are often left without a place to keep their boat for a month or two. If you have the availability, offering temporary storage is a great way to fill vacant space. And who knows, once a customer has used your facility for boat storage, they may come back to use it for traditional storage.
10. “You Could Get An Insurance Discount.”
Some insurance policies for boats may require that the vessel be stored in a secure facility when not in use. Using self-storage helps boat owners meet these requirements and maintain insurance coverage. Even if secure storage is not a requirement, some policies provide discounts for boat owners who put their watercrafts in dry storage when not in use. “Ask your insurance agent if they offer what is commonly referred to as a “lay-up” discount,” writes Discover Boating. “You’ll have year-round coverage with a discount for the months your boat is in dry storage.”
Boost Your Bottom Line With Boat Storage
Self-storage facilities can offer a practical and secure solution for boat owners looking to store their vessels when not in use, addressing various logistical, space, and security considerations. According to the Self Storage Almanac, boat storage facilities cost roughly $50 per square foot to build, about one-third the cost to build traditional storage facilities. This makes them a potentially lucrative investment and a worthy addition to many traditional self-storage facilities should the market demand boat storage space. For more, be sure to pick up Modern Storage Media’s Boat & RV Development Handbook. In the meantime, wishing you calm seas and clear skies, and may the wind always be at your back!
Brad Hadfield is a news writer and the web manager for Modern Storage Media.