DEAR WALDMANS: I have stored goods with many storage facilities in my time because of the frequent moving involved with my employment. I am a real neat freak and can't help but compare facility to facility. I recently stored in a facility located in Montana, and I was impressed. It would probably be considered a medium-sized facility to you. The first thing we were attracted to was the grounds of the facility. Even though there was only a small landscaped portion in the front, it was immaculate. The flowers were colorful and in full bloom, the grass was neatly edged and the care was evident. Inside, the office was decorated tastefully and the employees received us graciously. My wife and I could tell they were for real and not plastic people. They were helpful, courteous and caring. The office was surrounded with beautiful plants, and coffee or water was available. The office smelled fresh, and I really enjoyed storing my goods at this location. Wouldn't it be nice if all owners were that caring? Some don't realize how little things mean so much to customers. Just wanted to give your readers some feedback to think about. --An Experienced Renter
DEAR EXPERIENCED: It is so true that cleanliness and neatness can change a person's mood about a facility. We try to stress this fact in our books and our talks to facility owners. Flowers, pleasant odors or a cup of coffee can be very inviting for customers. The first impression is always one that people remember, not only with the way the office and grounds look, but also the service received upon entering the office. I am sure with your experience you have seen many storage facilities with trash outside or unkempt landscaping. Others may have trash cans overflowing or a coffee area that is such a mess you wouldn't dare drink any of it. It is of great importance to take the time for those little extras. Helpful attitudes and attentive employees are a wonderful way for your customers to be greeted. We make sure each morning before the doors open that everything is neat and tidy. We keep coffee and drinks for our renters. If we have tenants unloading furniture or goods all day long that look tired and thirsty, our manager goes out and asks if they would like something to drink.
You'd be surprised how this simple gesture has increased our business. They not only tell us how kind and considerate we are, but they tell their friends. Our grounds are maintained on a daily basis and we make sure all paper and trash is collected each day. Grass and weeds are under control. Neatness is one of our important tasks and everyone employed by our facility knows his job. Our employees understand that how we treat our customers is how they would like to be treated. When you relate to this fact, then you will always have a neat and impressive facility. We place candy on the counter with a message attached that reads: "This is for our customers." We go through bags of candy quite often. The kids love it, and upon their return trip they know where it is and help themselves.
Probably the most important factor, though, is that our attitude is always friendly and caring. Even if one of our employees is having a bad day, you would never know it. Our rule is simple: Once you enter the gates of the facility, you will have a good day and be kind to all those that you may encounter.
Hopefully, all those people will in return feel the same way. Kindness and friendliness are catchy. Try it in your business--it really works.
| The Waldmans, a father-daughter team, are self-storage owners/operators
and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a Master's degree in Labor and Employment
Law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading
series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies &
Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask the Waldmans are their
colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry.Comments and questions
for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413;
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.askthewaldmans.com
Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.