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Do Customers PREFER Your Business? Mystery Shopping Gauges Self-Storage Sales and Service Skills

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In-Person Mystery Shop

Walk-in or in-person mystery shops are a good follow up for mystery calls because most prospects begin their self-storage search with a phone call, then follow up with a personal visit. An in-person shop will evaluate the location, visibility and accessibility, site cleanliness, company-policy adherence as well as all forms of customer service.

Direct interaction with the site managers is evaluated and submitted by the mystery shopper using a numeric rating scale or yes/no input, and may include narratives as well. Opinions may be included in these reports for owners to use as public informational feedback.

Other mystery-shopping services specific to the self-storage industry include:

  • Competition calls or shops: You should always know what your competition offers so you can rise and shine above them!  
  • Integrity shops: Ensure all rents and fees are accounted for and deposited accurately and timely.
  • Mystery renters: Track rent from the day of rental through all phases of delinquency. This is a great tool to ensure all legal issues are being met, and legal notices are in compliance when presented to the tenant.

Build Your Brand

All aspects of mystery shopping should be geared toward your brand, allowing your managers to perform to the peak of their training and company requirements. Every business is unique, and you should promote your sites with that in mind. When mystery shops and calls are conducted on a regular basis with positive reinforcement, your employees will be motivated and encouraged to achieve their sales goals.

As a side note, mystery-shopping services should be unbiased in their reporting, simply providing facts without opinions. Opinions should be given by mystery shoppers only when required by the storage operator. It’s a fact-finding tool, beneficial to owners, managers and employees alike.

Mystery shopping can be introduced as a motivational tool to give employees an opportunity to shine. If it’s used to “catch” or “bust” an employee for unprofessional or bad behavior, it will be met with resentment and eliminate any possible benefit. Also, it’s recommended you obtain your employees’ consent to all forms of mystery shopping before beginning any type of evaluation.

Mystery shopping can be an invaluable training tool to help you and your employees become the leaders in your self-storage market. Give your customers what they “PREFER,” and you’ll excel at service.

Lori Niemczyk is owner and founder of A Top Shop!, a Colorado-based customer-service evaluation company that has worked with self-storage operators in the United States and Canada since 1992.  Niemczyk’s company has been instrumental in providing client feedback and employee evaluations to increase return on investment, track and document rent and legal procedures, and improve management integrity and sales skills. For more information, call 720.283.8377; visit .

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