When asked about marketing, most people think of TV commercials or ads placed in Yellow Pages, newspapers and magazines. The truth of the matter is marketing is a much more holistic process with ads representing just a piece of the pie. You must create an excellent selling advantage, communication strategy and be able to close the deal before the process is complete. Most important, you need a manager with sales savvy.
Most operators would do much better by cutting their marketing budgets and increasing the salary of their management position to attract a professional salesperson. For example, if you have an underperforming Yellow Pages ad costing $850 per month, you’ll get more bang for your buck by offering a qualified manager $10,000 more per year than you will by continuing to run that ad. You’ll attract a better manager with this salary, and I guarantee you’ll get a better return on that investment.
How is that possible? Consider the following:
A poor manager can negatively affect tenants’ experiences, leading to reduced referrals, lower retention and ultimately higher costs to acquire a new customer. If your average customer is worth $700, this will cost you a fortune in income and property valuation over your career.
A poor manager will have a low inquiry-to-rental conversion ratio. If you’re tracking marketing properly, you know your cost-per-inquiry ratio. If you pay $50 to make the phone ring but your manager is rude, impatient or just not a good salesperson, you can kiss those dollars goodbye.
A poor manager will not proactively implement great marketing systems, but will wait for the phone to ring or a customer to walk through the door. This costs you time and forces you to use more expensive advertising mediums to increase occupancy.
More Marketing, Please
The truth is a good manager needs to have more marketing experience than operations expertise. With exceptional advances in management software and operational systems in this industry, self-storage management in itself isn’t difficult to learn. Give your manager the right training, legal forms and technology with the latest in self-storage management software, and he’s well on his way to handle daily operations. But does he know anything about marketing?