Caltrain is a commuter train that runs between San Francisco and San Jose and between San Jose and Gilroy. Many commuters ride their bikes to the Caltrain station on Fourth and King in San Francisco. They park their bikes — for free — at Warm Planet, a nearby bicycle store.
Warm Planet sells bicycles and bicycle parts and accessories. Because the store is dedicated to serving their cycling customers, they have added a free parking service for commuters who ride bikes to catch the train. Bikers don’t have to worry about their bikes getting stolen from parking on the street or battle for a spot on one of the few Caltrain cars that allow bikes on board.
This free daily bike storage has become very popular. The free parking space at Warm Planet was designed for 100 bikes. They now handle 170 bikes a day. In addition to providing free parking space to bicycling commuters, Warm Planet also repairs bikes for those who park their bike at their facility. They repair flat tires, adjust brakes, adjust the derailleur, do a basic tune-up, and replace brake pads.
So what does this have to do with the self storage industry? Owners and managers can learn lots. First, notice how Warm Planet offers free parking to cyclists. It’s a service that is greatly appreciated by the bicyclists. It solves several problems that face those who ride their bike to catch the train.
As a manager or owner of a self storage facility, can you think of a new or different service that you can offer that would solve problems faced by your customers? Look at unique rental problems that face the renters in your community and see if you can find a solution to those problems.
Next, see how the company does bike repairs while the bike is parked at the facility? It doesn’t take extra time and energy for bicyclists to get their repairs done. Repairs are conveniently done while they are at work.
What extra service can you do for your customers that make their lives easier?
The company’s website claims “no membership fee or daily fee” and that “purchases support the parking.” Then the page urges customers to “buy lots of things.” When renters walk in your door, do you gently and politely encourage them to make purchases of the moving supplies that you sell?
The website also says that if the train is late, Warm Planet will stay open later without charging any fee – as long as the cyclist calls before the store employees leave for the day. Is there something extra that you could do for your customers that they would be grateful for but that would be a simple thing for you to do? If so, this will endear you to your customers.
“Caltrain recommends subsidizing bike storage facility.” San Francisco Examiner; 27 February 2012.
“Facility says agency should help subsidize service used by scores.” San Francisco Examiner; 23 February 2012