By Emily Turner
The average adult makes around 35,000 decisions a day, according to Quora, a question and answer website. So when it comes to choosing a self-storage facility, operators should make the decision easy for their customers. But what motivates a consumer to choose one storage business over another? Competitive pricing is the most obvious response, but how about a company’s reputation within its community?
A survey commissioned by financial-services organization Foresters Financial found that 89 percent of people believe businesses should support charities and their local communities. Consumers tend to favor brands that are involved in charitable work and for good reason. A relationship with a charity shows a consumer that a company is interested in the local community outside commercial gain. In addition, people are more likely to trust a business that genuinely cares about its customers and their social wellbeing.
Partnering with a charity is a great way for storage operators to give back to their community and help others. It can also provide unique networking opportunities as new customers hear about the brand through word-of-mouth and local press coverage. Acts of social good are profitable as supported by Forester’s survey evidencing that 59 percent of companies that participate in charity work benefited from increased profit. Let’s take a look at how you can partner with a nonprofit, help your community and entice new customers.
As a self-storage operator, there are a number of ways you can partner with a charity. First, you need to determine which organization is a good fit for your company. If there’s a charity that’s particularly active in your area, it might be a good idea to talk with them to see whether a potential partnership is mutually beneficial. Also, ask your customers as they may have an existing relationship with a charity that’s a good fit with your firm.
Also, make sure the charity resonates with your employees as they’ll be the first point of contact with the customer. If an employee is passionate about the chosen charity, he’s more likely to inspire customer and community involvement.
Second, decide what you can offer the charity. Money certainly isn’t the only option. As storage operators, you can work to your strength by offering free space. If space isn’t needed, sponsoring a collection drive is another excellent way to help out. Use your site as a drop-off point and invite community members to give items (clothes, food, toys, etc.), which will then be donated to the charity.
Timing is very important with any charitable activity. Find out what the organization has planned for the year and discuss when and how you can contribute. Working toward a calendar event, such as a holiday or annual drive, will give a sense of purpose and motivate those participating.
Finally, be responsive to the needs of the community. If there’s a local disaster, for example, it’s an ideal time to collect canned food or clothing on behalf of a charity. As the weather turns cold, your self-storage site could act as a drop-off for warm winter clothing that will be donated to homelessness charities. There are so many ways in which your business and employees can contribute.
It’s also important you make the most of your relationship. Set expectations with your charity. From the beginning, agree on what you’re hoping to achieve so there’s a clear goal in mind. It’s also a good idea to revisit these expectations during the campaign to ensure both parties are happy.
If the results are well-received, share your achievements with the local press, your customers and on your social media pages. Any resulting publicity is great for raising awareness for the charity and your brand.
A Case Study
U.K.-based Access Self Storage presents a great example of how a self-storage operator can engage with local charities to make a difference. For several years, the operator has organized various charity campaigns, partnering with about 25 organizations. Two of its biggest campaigns are during Easter, collecting chocolate eggs, and the winter holidays by serving as a drop-off for toy donations.
With the generosity of customers and the community, Access employees have collected tens and thousands of toys for a number of worthy charities including The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, The Children’s Society and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. To date, more than 2,000 chocolate eggs have been donated to dozens of charities such as Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, Tiny Tim’s Children’s Centre and The Salvation Army.
The campaigns receive widespread local press, achieving between 150 and 200 articles and mentions annually. This has resulted in increased traffic and customer inquiries at Access facilities. More important, the Access team is really proud of its work in supporting these charities and will continue to help in every way possible.
Emily Turner is a member of the press office at Access Self Storage, which operates more than 50 facilities in the United Kingdom, with a large concentration in Greater London.