To maximize the effectiveness and financial success of your self-storage operation, you must track and measure the results of your sales and marketing programs. This will help you develop a strategy for consistently improving the operation of your business. Results can be monitored in several key areas, including phone skills, lead management, consumer information and marketing.
One way to measure and improve employees' phone skills is to monitor the quality of their calls using a mystery-shopping service, which will provide an evaluation and audio record of its findings. Everyone involved in the selling process, even part-time staff, should be included in this process, as it will help develop consistency in the sales presentation. It will also give the person being shopped an opportunity to listen to how he handles callers and recognize areas in which to improve.
Consistent phone-skills monitoring can help increase a facility's call-to-visitor and visitor-to-renter conversion ratios. But for the system of evaluation to be effective, it must be used as a training tool for improvement, not a source or method for punishment.
Every self-storage operation should use a customer-lead system to record every phone call and walk-in at the store. Lead management is great way to measure weekly and monthly sales activity. It can also be used as a method for follow-up and prospecting future rentals.
A lead-tracking system will not only help you schedule more sales appointments, it will help monitor various components of the sales process, such as conversion ratios, rentals, new-prospect calls, walk-ins, retail sales, etc. In addition, the log can be used to gauge the effectiveness of advertising and marketing programs by keeping count of how many prospects traffic the site and how they found out about the store.
Another means of obtaining vital market information to improve your operation is to conduct a customer survey. This should be a mandatory part of the move-in process for every new rental. It will help you develop a profile of who your customers are as well as a strategy for advertising to your target markets. The survey should include questions like:
- How did you find out about (facility name)?
- Why did you choose (facility name)?
- What, in general, will you be storing?
- How long do you anticipate using storage?
- Are you a homeowner, renter or business?
- How close do you live to the site: within 3 miles, 3 to 5 miles, 5 to 7 miles or more than 7 miles?
These are just a few examples. Your questions should be based on the market conditions of your specific location. Each survey should be documented via a spreadsheet or other method so results can be measured on a monthly and annual basis. The findings can be invaluable in making future decisions and becoming more effective in marketing your business.
A properly developed and implemented marketing plan should include a means to measure how your efforts are working. For example, if you know how customers heard about your facility, you can estimate how many rentals to expect from each method or referral source. This will enable you to set goals and create a plan of action to achieve them.
Document the results of your marketing and pay careful attention to any variances to your plan, which can indicate areas of weakness. For example, let's say there is a large apartment community within 1 mile of your facility. If your records indicate you receive an average of three referrals per month from this key influencer and one month you only get one, you have to ask yourself why that is. Is the lack of results due to a poor relationship with the apartment manager? Does the complex have a newsletter in which you should be advertising or an introductory packet for new residents where you could include a flier or brochure?
Carefully examining the performance of your marketing methods (Yellow Pages, direct mail, etc.) as well as following the source of your rentals (i.e., via customer surveys) will help you fine-tune and strengthen your business. Tracking and measuring the results of sales and marketing programs is a powerful way to maximize profits. It eliminates the guessing game and allows you to adapt to changing market conditions, a profound advantage in today's competitive environment.
Brad North is the 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; visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.