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RV and Boat Storage in Florida - seeking advice

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  • RV and Boat Storage in Florida - seeking advice

    Hello everyone,

    I am thinking about jumping in to the RV and Boat storage business down here in Florida. I have researched the forums, and I have done a lot of reading on the Internet, as well as spoken briefly to someone locally who owns a similar lot. I am now hoping to gain more insight, and advice and warnings, from the veterans here at the sst forums.

    The lot I am looking at is 1.8 acres, already fully fenced, gravel covered in the past but now there are sparse weeds and grass which is kept mowed. It is basically a long rectangle 570 feet deep, and 120 feet wide, but it has drainage ‘ditches’ all the way along the sides which make the usable parking area just a few feet over 100 feet wide to work with. I am planning for angled spaces so I can have 40 foot RV/Boat spots along both sides with ample room down the middle for maneuvering. The back of the lot spreads out into a wide triangle which would allow for a 3 point turnaround or possibly a loop.

    The lot is way back in an industrial district, with literally no drive by traffic except for people doing other business in the area. Initial advertisement would be free listings such as craigslist, hopefully a sign on the major road leading back into the area, as well as the web site, and google maps inclusion etc. I honestly haven't gotten too deep into the marketing side of my business plan yet, but all suggestions are appreciated. (When I first moved to florida, i put my trailer into a lot I found on craigslist, which was in a very similar location, with very similar pricing, etc. It had just started up then, but the last time I drove by, that lot was near capacity.)

    The plan is for open lot storage, all grass and gravel spots for start up, with plans to upgrade down the road. Drive by market research shows every lot I could find within a 10 mile radius is at least 75% full. Almost all of those are paved and charging over $100+ per 40’ spot, most of which are 10’ wide spots. The only other grass/gravel competition is 5 miles farther south of my lot, and farther away from the densely populated areas. I would still plan to price my spots $5 less than those (and have them 11 or 12 feet wide) for market penetration, and then raise the price as demand dictated. (Currently my spreadsheet shows a break even between 30 and 40% occupancy)

    My single biggest hesitation is that I am a pilot and away from home quite a bit so I could only be a part time hands on owner, and I am very hesitant about taking on a partner. I want to make as many parts of the process as automated as possible so site visits are minimal, and adding new customers and completing routine tasks can be accomplished remotely if I am away from home. I have taken a quick look at 6storage web based software, and think that seems very reasonable, but I would love more advice on how to make this as remote-owner friendly as possible.

    As another means to that end, I would also like to have a part time lot manager live in an RV on the lot for added security, upkeep of the grounds, and to be close by for any access gate problems that may come up.

    I’m planning to attend the Florida Self Storage Association Expo Trade Show this coming Friday as well to talk to as many industry pros as possible.

    Pick it apart please. Obviously, many more details to discuss but I don't want the first post to be too long. Thanks in advance for any help. -Smitny

  • #2
    Because I may well be leaving Oregon because of the over the top politics and taxation, you should put me out of my misery and let me come to Florida and run it for you. Yea, That's the ticket!
    "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


    • #3
      Welcome, Smitny22! Boat/RV storage is a great business to get into right now!

      Definitely at least 12' width. Anything else is too small. In my experience, a $5 difference between you and your competition won't make any difference. I tend to be a lot higher than my competition but my tenants pay it because our facility is so much nicer! Our gate works, our cameras work, it's clean, and we keep the riff-raff out. Tenants will pay more for that. If you offer the same amenities/conveniences as your competition, $5 isn't going to sway them to store with you - the most convenient location will.


      • #4
        PacNW, I do love the Pacific Northwest, but I hear ya. Come on down, the water's fine.


        • #5
          Dmac, that is great advice thank you.

          Update, I am convinced the property is too narrow. Thanks to my teenager who is in geometry (which means I had to relearn it all) I started doing the cosines and tangents on angling the parking spaces, hypotenuses for 40 foot long spaces, etc haha and it looks like the ditches are taking up too much room on both sides plus destabilizing the ground close to the parking stops, it just isn't going to work out.

          I'm off to look for that next piece of property...


          • #6
            Originally posted by Smitny22 View Post
            PacNW, I do love the Pacific Northwest, but I hear ya. Come on down, the water's fine.
            Is that a proper job offer?
            "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


            • #7
              Regardless, you don't have to be present every day for a RV/Boat Storage facility like you described. I own one that is 1.5 hours away. Have great security, gate control, cameras, and a maintenance person that lives a .5 mile away. Those all help and don't require me to be there a ton.


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