A Serial Entrepreneur’s 'Common' Sense Advice for Running a Successful Self-Storage Business
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 08/29/2012



 

By Victor Green

It’s true that many factors contribute to an organization’s success, but in the end it all comes down to how your self-storage business is better or different than what’s already available in the market. Do you provide a better service than anyone else? Do you offer something that improves your customer's business or life and makes or saves him money? The answer to one—preferably both—of these questions should always be a resounding “Yes!”

Below are some common sense tips that will help you become or remain the leader in your market. Though the knowledge may be "common," its successful application in today's business world is often rare.

Promote your business. The first priority is to clearly identify your audience. Who are your prime targets? Once you’ve determined who they are, prioritize them in order of importance. Your marketing budget should be spent in accordance with these priorities, rather than choosing advertising and publicity avenues based on price.

Consider every marketing resource. Then evaluate which will give you best value. Seek out promotions that enable you to measure response. It’s important to know if your marketing expenditure is producing results. One way to measure response is by using coupon offers. Another is to use unique URLs to measure website traffic from a particular ad.

Service is the most important part of your business. Today, everybody wants to be treated as a “special person.” If you treat your customers well, your reputation will grow. This is the cheapest and most effective  form of advertising.

Relationships with repeat customers are important. Every effort should be made to make personal contact with your “base” whenever possible. Be honest, polite and attentive. Don't rely on e-mails or social media to do this work for you. There’s nothing better than doing business face to face.

Your staff will follow your example. If you portray professionalism and attentiveness, your staff will see this as the way you want your business to be run. If, however, you have a poor attitude, are a bad timekeeper, take extended breaks during the day, go home early or dress poorly, then your staff will assume this is how you want your business to be run. Never ask your staff to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.

Think before selling your product at lower prices than competitors. Many new business people think this is the “secret” to business. But undercutting your competitors is only successful if it gives you a sensible return and a significant net profit. I call this “vanity vs. sanity.” Vanity is being concerned with your sales figure; sanity is being concerned with your net profit.

Build a relationship with all customers. You’ve caught me. This is a repeat of the advice above. However, it bears repeating. You must develop a loyal customer base to maintain reoccurring sales revenue. Then, and only then, can you start to branch out secondary audiences and those farther out. If you don’t build a strong relationship that produces repeat business, you will effectively have to start your business over and over again every time you sell.

Keep your finances in order. To manage a business successfully, it’s essential you have accurate up-to-date financial information. Each month you should produce a profit-and-loss statement, or P&L. If you don't have a P&L, you’re effectively running your business in the dark.

Analyzing financial income vs. expenditure is crucial. Your new P&L will reveal all sorts of things. You can obtain sales trends by tracking periods of higher and lower sales, which will help you direct your advertising and publicity expenditure at these particular times. You can also study your overhead costs to see if they can be reduced. Every dollar of overhead you reduce goes to the bottom line.

It’s easy to deal with success, but how do you deal with failure? Thousands of businesses fail for a variety of reasons. Most fail due to inadequate research, not clearly identifying a gap in the marketplace or determining their potential customers before starting out.

Every successful entrepreneur has had business failures. When I realized a company would not succeed, I accepted that the first cut is the cheapest and moved on. I had no problem in closing down businesses that were not going to succeed. Too many people let ego and pride get in the way and continue to run a business that’s not profitable. Be ready and willing to cut the cord, and you’ll set yourself up to succeed.

Victor Green has a long record of founding and growing businesses in a variety of industries. Now retired, he lectures and mentors small-business owners and new entrepreneurs in conjunction with SCORE and the U.S. Small Business Administration. In his book, How to Succeed in Business By Really Trying!, Green shares more than 40 years worth of practical business advice. For more information, visit www.howtosucceedinbusiness.com.