How much happier would you be if you had twice as many commercial tenants as you do now? My guess is quite a bit! Commercial renters stay longer and almost always pay on time. They’re also more tolerant of rent increases and are generally easier to deal with. So it makes sense to attract as many of these customers as possible.
To increase your percentage of commercial tenants, you need a well-planned, concerted marketing effort that consists of direct contact and direct mail. But first, you must recognize these customers want to do business with a specialist, someone who understands their unique storage requirements. You must come across as that person. Luckily, in this age of computers and desktop publishing, the task isn’t difficult. You can easily create your own mailers and promotional materials.
When tailoring collateral to commercial clients, keep in mind the primary benefit you offer them is storage that is cheaper per square foot than office space. Your product also helps them reduce clutter. There are probably many other advantages you can highlight—all it takes is a little brainstorming. It’s especially useful if you can use numbers to demonstrate potential cost savings.
Once you have assembled your brochures, fliers and mailers, get out your compass and a map of the immediate area. Draw concentric circles around your facility at radiuses of .5, 1 and 2 miles—those are your target markets. Now you’ll go out to every business in those areas, beginning with the smallest circle, and introduce yourself in person. (Note: Don’t make the mistake of excluding a business because you think it won’t need storage. Let the customer make that call.) Some storage operators are afraid to make sales calls because of fear of rejection. If this is true for you, you’re not alone.
But let’s look at a few figures that might help alleviate your anxiety: Let’s say every commercial renter you have stays an average of 12 months and pays an about $50 per month for his unit. These numbers are far lower than national averages, but even at these rates, each customer is worth $600. If you have to call on 20 businesses before you make a sale, each visit is worth $30. But isn’t $30 of effort worth $600 in income?
When you first introduce yourself to a business owner or manager, be armed with your promotional materials that are specific to commercial tenants. Quickly give your pitch, which should be rehearsed. Be friendly, but don’t take up a lot of his time. The goal is to announce your services, and let the prospect know you are competent and easy to do business with.
Keep a record of all your visits and follow up with promising prospects. Make a note of whom you spoke with and the degree of interest he demonstrated (I suggest using a scale of one to 10). Generally, you’ll let people get back to you when they’re ready. But for those who ranked an eight, nine or 10 on your scale, follow up with a phone call and invite them to visit the facility.
The key thing to remember when creating a direct-mail piece for commercial customers is you’re simply luring them to contact you, not selling them storage in this step. Trying to make the sale at this stage will be a waste of time and money. It’s just like dating: People are reluctant to “buy” on the first meeting. They need to be wooed.
With this in mind, the only purpose of your mailing is to give business owners a compelling reason to call you. This is your “second date,” so to speak. When they call, give them a list of benefits specific to their requirements. Answer all their questions and assess their storage needs. Then set up your third date: a visit to the facility during which they’ll—hopefully—sign a rental agreement.
Of course, commercial clients make up only one segment of your marketing plan. A complete program will address multiple target groups for maximum effect. But these customers are well worth pursuing and could make your business a lot more profitable. So get out there and shake some hands, and send out some seductive mailers.
Fred Gleeck is a self-storage coach and consultant who helps owners and operators maximize profit. He is an expert in the field of information and seminar marketing and the author of more than 10 books. To learn more about new marketing ideas revealed only in his live events, visit www.storageseminar.com. For more information, call 800.345.3325; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.selfstoragesuccess.com. To subscribe to Mr. Gleeck’s e-zine, send an e-mail to email@example.com.