Selling Promise-Free Security

Tron Jordheim Comments
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Do you believe that to attract more tenants and justify your rents you have to offer ancillary services and other amenities? If so, security is likely high on the list of items you market to customers.

Most storage-use surveys show that safety and security are among the top factors tenants consider when choosing a storage site. Yet, you can’t promise these things for fear of liability, as your lawyer will tell you. While you can’t guarantee a tenant’s safety or the security of his belongings on your premises, you can create the perception of these things. In short, you want to sell safety and security as features of your facility without making implied or actual promises about their existence.

This may sound like an impossible task, but consider television commercials for any type of medicine. They often show a happy couple dancing or cuddling on a beach somewhere, with a voiceover about how much happier and fulfilled they are thanks to whatever miraculous drug they’re taking. Then come the disclaimers: The cost of this happiness is one potentially horrible side effect or another. Yet companies campaign the dickens out of these products, and people demand them from their doctors.

In a past column, I addressed the practice of selling your facility’s “worst feature” first (Inside Self-Storage, February 2005). In a sense, potential danger or damage to your tenant’s person or his belongings is the worst feature of your site. By the same token, your access gates, surveillance cameras, unit alarms, etc., are some of its best facets. So how do you sell your worst and best characteristics—without making any assurances that could lead to trouble down the road?

Fancy Mouthwork

Here are some ways to sell the safety and security features of your storage facility without making or implying a guarantee:

1. When explaining your site’s security features, use phrases like “so that” and “which means” to couple features with benefits.

For example, “We have an easy-to-use access-control gate, which means only our tenants can come and go with their pass codes,” or “Here at ABC Storage, we have surveillance cameras stationed at regular intervals, so that our managers can keep a better eye on the property.” Coupling features with benefits by using these phrases helps tenants visualize how things work and understand what your features mean to them. They make it easier for you to paint a picture of your facility during the sales presentation.

2. Refer to security features as elements of convenience, not safety.

The picture we painted above of the access-control gate focused on its ease of use. It also happened to mention limited access, but didn’t sell the feature on that principle. Similarly, the comment about cameras said they made surveillance easier for managers. It may suggested security without belaboring the point.

3. Talk about peace of mind over security.

For example, you might say something like, “We offer individual unit alarms to give you extra peace of mind.” What you’re selling here is a good feeling, not a promise. You offer certain features to put tenants more at ease, but you’re not guaranteeing an end result.

4. Ask a closing question that allows the prospect to think about your security features without you drawing his conclusions.

For instance, after saying, “We offer individual unit alarms to give you extra peace of mind,” follow up by asking, “How does that sound?” You could also try a less open-ended question, like “You can see we’ve invested in making this a great place to store, right?” or “Does that sound good to you?”

If your prospect agrees the feature is appealing, not only is he thinking about it, but he’s likely bought into your suggestion of security. In soliciting positive reinforcement regarding the safety of your site, you’ve allowed the prospect to justify the cost of rent in his mind and believe you offer something more than empty space. And you never promised a thing!

Don’t be shy about selling your security features. You can paint them as a convenience. You can market the peace of mind they create. In either case, leverage the emotional power they create—with nary a guarantee.

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping service, sales-training programs, and Want2Store.com facility locator. You can read what he is up to at www.selfstorageblog.com. For more information, e-mail him at tron@phone-smart.net.

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