Most self-storage markets are more competitive than they were even a few years ago. According to the Self Storage Association’s third-quarter 2010 Facts and Trends Report, the supply of self-storage in the United States has doubled over the past decade. In an environment where every rental counts, converting your hard-won leads into customers has taken on new urgency. Sales and persuasion skills are the ingredients necessary to increase your conversion rates, but they’re not built by manager incentives alone.
The problem with relying heavily (or solely) on an incentive program is you’re trying to solve a skill problem with an enticement. It’s like trying to tape feathers to your arms so you can fly. At first glance, it looks promising; but in the end, it doesn’t work.
To illustrate my point, let’s take the concept of incentive to the extreme to see how quickly it falls short. Let’s assume you’re as rich as Bill Gates and can afford to give incentives that are beyond most people’s dreams. Unfortunately, you’re diagnosed with a brain tumor, and you’ll die without an operation. Would you grab your co-worker and say, “I’ll give you $50 million dollars to operate on my brain. I really want to make sure you do the best job possible”? Of course not. No amount of motivation can endow your co-worker with the skills to operate on you. Motivation may increase his effort, but without the prerequisite skills, he can’t take the correct steps.
Rather than fretting over motivation, accept that the vast majority of people you hire already want to do a good job. They want to be successful. They want to please you and the customer. As an alternative to focusing on motivation, help your property managers build or enhance their skills through training and practice.
Training Becomes its Own Motivator
When you invest in training, you send managers a strong message that you care about them as people as well as their success. When they see you care about them, the natural reaction is to reciprocate and care more about you and your business. Another reason you get motivation mileage when you train employees to sell more effectively is that winning is inherently motivating, and by investing in training, you’re helping staff win more frequently.
After Michael Phelps won his seventh gold medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, can you imagine him saying, “Gosh, that’s enough for me. I think I’m going to sit the next one out”? Doesn’t that sound laughable? His world-record performance while obtaining his eighth medal makes it clear he was highly motivated to race again.