How to Start a Boat and RV Storage Business

  Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA
  Written by: J. Lang Wood      Updated November 21, 2018
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Starting a boat and RV storage business offers income potential for an enterprising small business. RVs continue to be popular as younger families choose to save travel dollars while enjoying more contact with their children.

If you live near a popular body of water, boat ownership may be commonplace, and boat storage is a must for those who do not have space at home. Because so many communities discourage on-street parking of RVs and boat trailers, storage facilities for these vehicles are always in demand.

Find the Perfect Location

Locate a large lot at a good price. You may be able to rent a lot, but buying it could be a better option in terms of equity in the property long-term. You will need plenty of room to maneuver RVs and boat trailers safely, so make sure there is adequate room for customers to get their vehicles in and out of position.

The lot should be in an easily accessible area, close to the body of water that boat owners will be using and easy to reach from major highways. The property must be fenced for the protection of your customers’ vehicles.

Create a Business Plan

The first step in any business venture should be to draw up a detailed business plan. This document lays out all the details about how you want your business to run and what you plan to do to achieve those goals. It's basically a roadmap to creating your business, and it's an invaluable document for any business owner needing financing or insurance.

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Secure Financing

Unless you have a large amount of money in the bank, you'll need some type of financing to build your boat and RV storage business. Getting a business loan for a storage facility can be a bigger challenge than for other retail services, but you'll help your case by showing that your business will be located near a number of prime demand generators such as a new single-family subdivision with few garages or a seniors-only gated community with an HOA that prohibits boat and RV parking.

Comply with the Law

Research local laws, building codes and zoning restrictions. Make sure your type of business is allowed on the property so there are no potential legal problems. This is particularly important if you plan to construct covered storage. Apply for a business license as designated by your community.

Check Your Competitors to Determine Pricing

Determine what your competition offers and at what price. Do they provide boat and RV washing and detailing? Is there a mechanic on-site to make repairs?

Vending machines for cool drinks after a day of boating or snacks for RVers returning from trips on the road may be welcome amenities. Consider providing a bathroom, water access and a picnic table where customers can sit in a shaded area to make your storage area more customer-friendly.

Get Insured

Obtain insurance to cover your customers’ property. Contact an insurance broker that handles specialty insurance for storage facilities.

Make sure the insurance covers casualties, such as theft, fire and wind damage. Insurance costs can be a considerable amount and should be factored into the price of monthly or yearly storage fees.

Draft a Contract

Determine your contract arrangements. Make sure you are covered in cases of property abandonment or failure to make payments. Specify if the vehicle will be sold at auction after a period of time if the account is in arrears. A yearly contract is most cost-effective to manage and gives you the money up front, but many owners appreciate month-by-month contracts for short-term needs.

Decide what types of payment you will take and what kind of software accounting program you will need to keep track of payments. Guaranteed payment in the form of automatic debits from the customer's checking account is a good way to ensure payment. You can give an incentive to do this with a free first month of rent or small monthly discount.

Implement Security Measures

Provide security for your storage area beyond fences and gates. Instruct your customers on the use of touchpads on the premises so that no one's property is at risk while allowing access to the facility. Closed circuit television monitoring is a feature that helps protect both people and property and is appreciated by customers.

Promote Your Business

Develop a marketing plan to reach your customers. Local boat and RV selling newspapers, RV supply stores, marine repair shops and marine canvas providers are all places that can help bring business to your storage yard. Local marinas may be interested in referring their overflow to you so let them know where you are.

Tips

  • Doing credit checks on customers can alert you about problems with future payments and help to stay on top of collections.

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