One of our sales associates was contacted recently by an old self-storage friend remodeling his retail space. He was looking for ideas on displays and merchandising, and wanted everything to be professional, appealing and top of the line. It was worth spending a bit more, he said, to give his business a quality image and make a positive first impression on customers.
“Then why do you stock products that don’t add to that first impression?” asked the sales associate.
The self-storage owner threw up his hands and sighed, “Because ... they’re cheaper!”
Quality products pay for themselves. Consumers aren’t stupid: If something doesn’t work, they won’t buy it again. Moreover, they won’t return to your retail shop for other items if they end up with junk the first time around.
But if you stock your shelves with quality products that cost more than substandard less-expensive ones, does it mean you have to convince customers the added expense is worth it? No!
Don’t overlook the convenience factor. When a person has just signed a storage contract, he’s not likely to go comparison shopping for locks or other items as long as your products wear brand names and are reasonably priced.
A higher margin on a knock-off “priced to sell” may net less than a recognized brand sold at a fair retail price. Some self-storage professionals think they can only sell discounted products. Inferior products that end up in the bargain bin with a 75 percent-off label will gouge your bottom line.
The Spill-Over effect
If customers think your facility looks unkempt, they’ll expect your service to be shabby too. High-quality products displayed in a professional manner make your store look professional. People respect known brands like Master Lock, 3M and Sharpie. They respond to superior product packaging, quality displays and merchandising. Plus, a classy presentation of topnotch products sends a message to tenants yours is class-act operation—a place they can feel good about patronizing.
Happy customers make for smooth operations. Once a person feels he’s been taken advantage of, however, complaints will surface and tend to snowball. It’s almost as though upset customers are on the lookout for other problems.
Don’t let inferior products stand between you and good customer relations. If you’re selling poor-quality items, eventually your patrons will feel they’ve been had. Alienating tenants costs you more in the long run. So, make sure your products are at least as good as your service.
Word Travels Fast
Good news travels fast, and bad news travels even faster. People will tell three times as many friends about a bad business experience as they will about a good one. Every extra buck you squeeze from a second-rate product can cost you triple in business promotion. Stick with quality down the line, and your customers will respond.
Roy Katz is the founder of Supply Side, which distributes packaging, shipping and moving supplies. The company has developed merchandising programs for many leading companies including the U.S. Postal Service, The UPS Store, Kinko’s, Mail Boxes Etc., Uncle Bob’s Self Storage and Extra Space Storage. For more information, visit www.suplyside.com