Using Coupons: Customer Referral and Incentive Programs for Self-Storage

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In these times of economic upheaval, it’s more important than ever for a self-storage manager to make good use of his time. When it comes to marketing, what better, faster way is there to promote your facility than to enlist the help of your current and former customers?

When using a customer referral or incentive program, you’ll simply exchange a gift of some kind in return for a person referring a new customer to you. These programs can run the gamut from gas cards and movie tickets to cash or services. To implement a program, plan your strategy carefully, and then move forward. 

Building a System

A referral system takes planning, and to make the most of a program, you need to take a fresh look at all of your marketing materials. You’ll find some are missing important information and others may be outdated. This is a good time to revisit each piece and add a fresh twist. Your length of commitment to the program is your first decision. Are you willing to run the program indefinitely, or will it be a one-time deal?

Next you need some hard facts: How long does your average tenant stay, and how much value does that person represent to your facility? You’ll need these figures to make your next decision. If your average tenant length of stay is six months, at an average rent of $100 per month, your average tenant value is $600. How much are you willing to give back to garner an additional $600 in income?

Choosing an Incentive

Determining the money factor in your demographic area is next on your list. Would your customers be happy to receive $20 cash for a referral, or do you need to bump it up to $50? Would they be thrilled with movie tickets, or would it take a high-end restaurant gift certificate to motivate them? While you can use any number of incentive options, from pre-purchased gift cards to dinner for two, many operators find the best motivator of all is cash. Have you ever known anyone who turned down free money?

Once you’ve determined your customer value and what you have to offer, you need to implement a program and insert it into your marketing materials. For example, you might choose to use a referral coupon that offers a $50 cash payment to the referring party. Maybe it also offers $50 off the first month’s rent for the new tenant. So you’d be giving $50 cash and discounting $50 for each referral received. The combined $100 is a small price to pay for your average customer value.

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