SPECIAL OPERATIONS

Brad North Comments
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Five vital steps can take your self-storage operation to a new level of profitability. In fact, if these areas become a main focus of senior management, the business will improve net operating income on a regular basis.

Step 1: Training

First off, make sure you’ve hired the right management team and are committed to providing ongoing training for improved efficiencies. The more your management team knows about the operation and what it takes to be successful, the smoother your journey to success will be.

Training improves product knowledge, which transfers over to the customer. It also maximizes employee retention; if they feel “enriched” in their roles within the operation, they’re sense of belonging and commitment to the job is also enhanced. Burnout and frustration are minimized, adding to a more productive environment.

Training develops and improves consistency while standardizing the level of customer service. This is just as vital to single-store operators as it is to multi-store operations; consistency and standardization is critical to business. If you brand your level of customer service within your marketing program, and maintain training to reinforce it, you’ll rise to the top of the marketplace.

Step 2: Accountability

Secondly, create an atmosphere of accountability and discipline within the organization. This helps develop the “Law of the Scoreboard,” leading to better understanding of one’s job description and what is expected in the position. This step also sets benchmarks that are vital to progression. Once a self-storage operation sets well-defined benchmarks, it can evaluate progress regularly, making adjustments as necessary.

Step 2 defines poor, average, good and exceptional performance within each of the critical areas of the operation. What is the expected performance level for you facility and your individual employees? Once you set your standards, you must continually find ways of reinforcing them to keep employees motivated and reaching for the gold ring.

Finally, this step requires a measurement tool to track performance as it relates to your benchmarks. If employees are held accountable for achieving benchmarks, they (and you) need to track their progress. Reward them for reaching their goals! It reinforces employees’ commitment to constant improvement and gives them a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Step 3: Sales Programs

This step commits to continuous improvements within your sales program. The manager of a self-storage operation is the most important asset to your facility’s success; however, the phone is the most powerful tool available to him. If you want to rise to the next level, design an effective sales program that builds excellent communication skills.

Your sales program should aim to turn callers and walk-in customers into renters. In addition, if you sell ancillaries such as locks and boxes, your sales program should seek to turn storeroom visitors into buyers. Similar to Step 2, you’ll need to track and measure key aspects of your sales program to evaluate performance and set goals for improvement.

How do you stack up against the competition? Compare your business with other sites nearby. Identify differential advantages being offered within your store. These unique advantages can be used to build value and trust with customers. Managers can use these benefits to leverage a sale. For example, if you have access 24/7 or online payment ability, make it known to the customer, noting that you are the only facility in town to offer these conveniences.

This simple step enables managers the ability to increase customer visits to the store, boost occupancies, ultimately improving your profitability. Lastly, don’t forget your commitment to ongoing training, which assures managers will retain a high degree of professionalism and keep the sales program rolling in the right direction.

Step 4: Maximize Marketing

Once your sales program is solid, focus on maximizing the marketing plan. Make your dollars work for you. Strong marketing strategies will bring a steady stream of customers to your store, so your operational staff can convert more callers and walk-ins to renters. Done properly, it will also help develop a flow of referrals into your operation.

Again, the sales program must be developed first in order to maximize the return on marketing dollars. Identify various target markets and focus on them. By tracking and measuring, it will become evident which targets are the most viable. Spend your time, money and energy on the most lucrative markets.

Most self-storage operators are inconsistent, and their marketing efforts never solidify into an organized program. Quality marketing requires consistency and repetition.

Step 5: Increased Productivity

In order to run on all cylinders, you must create an environment for higher productivity. This will feed into all the other steps to success, moving a self-storage operation to a higher level. One example of consistency is to reward employees every time they achieve or excel beyond expected performance levels. This sends the message that you are holding them accountable, appreciate their efforts and are maintaining goals for continued success.

Proper goal-setting, incentives, contests and bonuses focus strong attention on the operation’s drive to success. If it’s a group effort, each individual needs to be recognized for his or her participation in a job well done. In fact, the recognition in most cases is just as important as the actual reward. High achievers love recognition for accomplishments, and underachievers are motivated to jump on the bandwagon. Get them all on board and follow the route mapped out above, and you’ll be well on your way to higher levels of success. 

Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting, which specializes in facility management, feasibility, onsite sales, marketing and operational training for the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos and workbooks titled “Maximizing Your Sales and Marketing Program,” designed to help managers improve their sales and marketing efforts. Mr. North contributes articles to various self-storage publications and is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant within the industry. For more information, call 513.229.0400; visit www.advantagebusinessconsulting.com.

To reach greater heights with your self-storage business:

  • Continually train.
  • Create an atmosphere of accountability.
  • Develop and implement an effective sales program.
  • Maximize your marketing program.
  • Create an environment for higher productivity.
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