To maximize the effectiveness of your sales and marketing program, you must track the results of your findings. This will help every operator, big or small, develop a strategy for improving the operation of his business. For example, one way to improve the performance of a manager's phone skills is to consistently measure the results. This can be accomplished by having the manager evaluated by a mystery-shopping service on a monthly basis. This service will provide an evaluation and audio record of the call, which is a great tool for measuring its effectiveness.
It is important everyone involved in the selling process--even part-time employees--be a part of this evaluation, as it will help develop the overall consistency of the sales presentation. It will give the person being shopped an opportunity to listen to how he handled the caller and recognize what he needs to do differently to improve on future phone-sales presentations. Over a period of time, this can help operators create more customer visits as they convert more callers to renters. For this system to be effective, though, it must be used as a training tool for improvement and not a source or method for punishment.
Every operator should use a customer log to record every call, walk-in and sales activity at the store. It is a great tool for measuring weekly and monthly sales activity and can be used as a method of follow-up and prospecting for future rentals. It can also be used for scheduling appointments and measuring various components of the sales process, such as month-to-date conversion ratios, rentals, new-prospect calls, walk-ins, etc.
In addition, the log can be used to measure the effectiveness of advertising and marketing programs by tracking how customers found out about the store. If used properly, the log can equip self-storage operators with vital information about their specific marketplaces. The information can be used to make critical decisions on improving the sales and marketing program, and ultimately increase the profits at the store.
Another method of obtaining vital information to improve the operation is to conduct a survey of the customer. This should be part of the "move-in" process and mandatory for every new rental. This will help every operator develop a profile of who their customers are and will assist in developing a strategy for advertising and reaching out to the most effective target market(s).
On the survey, it is important to ask questions such as:
- How did you find out about XYZ Storage?
- Why did you choose XYZ Storage?
- In general, what will you be storing?
- How long do you anticipate using storage?
- Are you a homeowner, renter or a business?
- Do you live less than 3 miles away? Three to 5 miles? Five to 7 miles? More than 7 miles?
These questions are examples of what to ask on the survey and should be altered based on the market conditions of a specific self-storage location. Each survey can be evaluated and documented on a tally sheet to be measured on a monthly basis. These findings can be invaluable in making future decisions and becoming more successful in the advertising and marketing of a self-storage business.
To become more effective in the marketing of a particular location, the results of these efforts must be documented consistently. Developing and implementing a plan for each location is crucial. If executed properly, the marketing plan will give continual feedback on how promotion efforts are working. It will also assist in developing a customer profile.
It is imperative to predict how many rentals are expected from each key influence on a monthly basis. Documentation will enable goals to be set and a plan of action implementation to achieve these goals. It is important to document findings and review any variances in the marketing plan. If discrepancies are found, documentation will help pinpoint weaknesses.
For example, let's say there is a large apartment community within one mile of a storage location. If there is less than one referral per month coming from this key influence but your marketing plan anticipates three, why is there such a discrepancy? Is the lack of results due to a failure to develop the relationship with the key decision-maker (i.e., the apartment manager)? Or maybe the community has a monthly newsletter in which the storage location should be advertising? Is there a brochure or flier for the self-storage facility included in the community's information packet?
These are just a few examples of what documentation of results can reveal if noted on a regular basis. It will also help fine-tune and strengthen marketing efforts over time, until eventually the results are highly effective. Remember, the marketing plan of a self-storage operation can be greatly improved if tested and measured continually.
In today's competitive environment, tracking results of sales and marketing programs will set self-storage operators apart from one another. It will be a great advantage to those who diligently seek to measure the results of their programs and find ways to improve on the shortcomings.
Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting and specializes in sales and marketing training to the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos along with a workbook called "Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program." This resource will help managers take their sales and marketing programs to a higher level. Mr. North also offers comprehensive on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 513.229.0400 or visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.