Can you really increase your storage rentals by providing better customer service? Is it possible to turn customers into “raving fans” of how they are treated at your facility? If this were possible, would it make your referral and previous- customer programs more effective? Absolutely! In fact, not only can you increase your sales, you can decrease your marketing and advertising budget at the same time.
To start, you must know what level of customer service you currently provide and what level you ultimately want to achieve. Ask yourself a few key questions. First, how are you treating prospects when they first call your store? This is the initial impression customers have of your facility, and it will determine if they want to visit you.
Second, how is the prospect treated once he visits your store? This has a tremendous impact on the customer’s perception of how you address his needs. Finally, once a customer rents a unit, what level of service are you providing? This might determine the length of time he stays with you and, when he eventually moves out, whether he will come back to you with a future need or refer you to others. If you address these questions and develop an effective customer-service program, you can take your self-storage operation to a new level of success.
Develop Your Program
To develop an effective customer-service program, you must determine the best way of taking care of customers. Create systems that will ensure every customer is receiving the highest level of service possible. For instance, implement a phone-sales presentation that will educate, build trust and show the customer the value of what he is receiving when renting a unit with your company. If done properly, this will provide him all the advantages of storing with you. It will also give you the opportunity to build a rapport and set yourself apart from the competition.
Tell each customer about the features and benefits of your facility that will create the highest impact. Do not provide the exact same information to each customer, as it should vary slightly depending on his particular needs. However, it is vital to provide a consistent level of sales performance; to this end, supply ongoing training to each employee involved in the selling effort. This will help develop reliability as well as ensure each customer is being treated with the highest level of service. Over time, this will improve your ability to set appointments, create customer visits and, ultimately, increase rentals at your store.
When a customer visits your store, welcome and treat him in person with the same level of respect, warmth and enthusiasm you provide over the phone. This will raise the standard and expectation of how customers are treated by everyone involved in the operation of your store. It will also confirm to the customer your commitment to providing him an excellent storage experience.
Unfortunately, this level of customer service is the exception and not the rule in most self-storage operations. However, where it does exist, referrals are generally more frequent, because customers are more excited to tell their friends and family about how great the facility is. As a rule, for every great experience a customer has with a company, he will tell two to three people. For every bad experience he has, he will tell eight to 10. Minimize the bad experiences and maximize the great ones your customers have with you through impeccable service.
If you are not careful, it is easy to forget about the customer once he rents a unit. It happens frequently in this industry. But what if you were the exception and carried through with your commitment? In other words, not only do your customers receive great service on the phone and when they sign their rental agreements, but during their entire storage experience. Would this level of consistency allow you to create raving fans?
Measure how many customers come to you as referrals and how many former customers come back to rent, and you will learn pretty quickly how effective this approach is. In fact, over time, you will probably find your percentage of referrals and previous customers will outpace almost every other form of marketing. Customer service can help lower your advertising budget while increasing the rates you can charge.
Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training for the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos and a workbook titled “Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program,” which can help managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. He most recently launched A TelePro, a mystery-shopping service that assists in educating, evaluating and improving the phone-sales performance of self-storage professionals. For more information, call 513.229.0400 or visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.