Not too long ago, when self-storage was a fairly new product, there was a seemingly endless supply of customers with a need to store goods. It didn’t matter how much emphasis was on the sale because the product sold itself. However, as time went on, the product grew at an exceptionally fast pace. Occupancy rates began to falter, and vacancy thrived. Renters started to disperse and check out the competition.
Some new storage companies popped up with all the luxuries there are to offer, from classy and sophisticated buildings to rental equipment and supply stores. But really, what makes us different? We have essentially the same products, and service is still service, isn’t it? If you went to a fancy facility and the managers didn’t accommodate you or were too pushy, would you rent there? What sets you apart from the competition is the combination of your product and your presentation.
Product is important. Not because of how sophisticated it is or how much it costs to build, but because of how well-maintained and welcoming it is. How is your curb appeal? Does the facility seem safe and secure? How much do you care about the environment in which you work and live? Is it important to you to have a clean, friendly atmosphere? It should be.
I have seen old sites, built as far back as the '70s, that still look great. The managers run them with pride. The key to success is enjoying what you do. You have the control to keep a tenant and rent to new customers, regardless of the facility down the street with its bells and whistles. If you want to be successful, don’t be a storage robot. Use your individuality and personality to win customers over. Be confident! The key to sales is all in your presentation: 10 percent of each sale is the product itself, the other 90 percent is how you offer it to the customer. First impressions really do count every single time.
Sometimes, the best way to grade the performance of your site and its staff is to shop your competitors. Create a grade scale of all the things you expect from a successful facility and visit your “neighbors” in person. Evaluate everything from customer service to the property’s appearance and anything in-between. This is a great tool to work on any improvement you might want to make to your property or your own skills.
If you still don’t think any of this matters, consider to whom the owner turns when a facility is in a sink-or-swim situation because of competition: the staff. Sooner or later, we are all judged by our superiors, whether for a job well-done or missed mark. For which do you want to be recognized? If you are doing your very best, others will notice. You will reap rewards of success because you know you’re a winner—and so do they.
Trina Van Alstine is the administrative support manager for Lyons Investment Properties LLC of Newport Beach, Calif. She has worked with the company for seven years. For more information, call 949.752.5000; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.