If you’re like most storage operators, you collect pertinent contact information from tenants when they rent a unit, including a copy of their driver’s license. In this age of the Internet, you should also collect their e-mail addresses.
Before we discuss the incredible benefits of using e-mail to regularly send information to customers, we need to talk about SPAM, which is unsolicited e-mail communication. You need to get permission to send regular e-mailings to customers or you can face consequences. Add a clause to cover this in your rental agreement, or you can create a separate form to solicit consent. As an incentive, consider offering a $10 discount off their first month’s rent if they provide their e-mail address. Once you have a list of addresses and permission to use them, you have a powerful marketing method at your fingertips.
Content and Frequency
Now that you’ve got tenants’ e-mail addresses, what do you send? Your messages should include information that is directly or tangentially related to storage. This can include storage tips as well as information on travel, packing, moving and anything else you can think of that has some relevance to the business.
Keep your messages short, less than 250 words, and limit them to one or two topics. As Bill O’Reilly says, keep them pithy! Over time, make note of ideas for new mailings. As you start writing regular email messages, you’ll become more conscious of what works best and mentally archive possibilities for your list. Before long, it will become second nature. Most important, provide information people will truly find valuable.
Never e-mail customers more than once a week or less than once a month. If you e-mail more frequently, you’ll annoy them. If you contact them less often, they’ll forget who you are. To e-mail tenants and former tenants effectively, you need a system or routine. Your messages will be most successful when tenants learn to expect and appreciate them. For convenience, it should be easy for people to subscribe to or unsubscribe from your list.
When you send tenants regular e-mail messages, you begin to establish a relationship with them. If they like you and your staff and are impressed with the information you send, they will often follow your advice. So if you know of a product or service that would be of interest to your audience, offer them a referral. For example, include a link to a vendor’s website or other contact information.
Never make such a recommendation, however, unless you have done your due diligence and are sure the vendor’s products and services are superior. Referring customers to suppliers who are substandard will get you in trouble with your subscribers and jeopardize your own credibility. What items make good referrals for tenants? It depends on the orientation of your storage facility. If you offer boat storage, for example, you might recommend a retailer of boat accessories and supplies. If you have a “traditional” facility, refer customers to companies that offer travel or moving services.
How does this lead to additional revenue? Strive to promote companies that offer an “affiliate” program, meaning they offer a commission for introducing them to your customers. You earn a percentage of the revenue vendors earn from your customers. Most serious businesses will offer such a program. If they don’t, there’s no harm in making the suggestion.
Post Move-Out Mail
Why does it make sense to continue e-mailing people who have moved out of your facility? They may need to rent storage again in the future, and you want to remain at the forefront of their minds. And just because they aren’t currently renting from you doesn’t mean they can’t be a great source of referrals. If you stay in contact, they will think of you when the topic of storage comes up in conversation, and referrals are a very important component of any good storage business.
Get your customers to give you their e-mail addresses. Lure them with incentives if necessary. E-mail them regularly even after they move out of your facility. Look for other ways to create revenue with the valuable relationships you establish. Follow this advice, and you'll be miles ahead of your competitors.
Fred Gleeck is a profit-maximization consultant who helps self-storage owners/operators during all phases of the business, from the feasibility study to the creation of an ongoing marketing plan. He is the author of Secrets of Self Storage Marketing Success—Revealed!, available for purchase at www.selfstoragesuccess.com. He is also the producer of professional training videos on self-storage marketing. To receive a copy of his Seven-Day Self-Storage Marketing Course and storage marketing tips, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call 800.FGLEECK; e-mail email@example.com.