Challenge No. 2: Keeping Customers on Task
No-shows and late-payers are a growing challenge for most self-storage businesses. At the same time, limited staffing resources means it's not easy to call customers and remind them about their storage or truck-rental appointments. On the collections front, it takes time and effort to remind customers about late payments.
In this case, voice-based marketing automation comes to the rescue by automating reminder calls and bill collection. These calls can also be used to interact with customers, prompting them to “confirm” or “reschedule” based on their availability.
This automation offers three benefits for a storage business. First, time-consuming tasks are automatically handled. As a result, facilities can operate with fewer staff members, avoid wasting time on no-shows, and free up time for more important activities. Second, operators can increase profit by minimizing write-offs on late-paying customers. Finally, since all calls are recorded in a dashboard, operators can verify all customer inquiries were handled appropriately.
Challenge No. 3: Making the Most of Web Presence
Many storage-industry websites are unwisely judged based on how many online lead-generation forms are completed, as many are incapable of tracking visitors who subsequently pick up the phone and make a call. That’s a mistake because close rates for those phone conversations are usually much higher than leads submitted electronically.
Voice-based marketing automation addresses the problem by breaking down the walls that separate websites from phone calls. It integrates everything into a solution that makes sense, drives leads and gives clarity on results.
It starts by tracking phone calls, dynamically displaying phone numbers on a website so self-storage operators can tell where a call originated. In addition, operators can turn clickers into callers by instantaneously initiating a phone call with a prospect when a website form is submitted. They can even receive a “whisper” message about the prospect prior to taking a call, which can help secure the best possible sale. This whisper gives the operator information about where the call originated—a Yellow Pages ad, TV, newspaper, Web, etc.
Alternatively, website visitors who call can be qualified through voice response, equipping operators with additional information prior to taking the call. With a good voice-based marketing-automation solution in hand, operators find that their website will quickly deliver results that matter.
Challenge No. 4: Having a True Understanding of Location Performance
Mystery shoppers are widely used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual self-storage facilities. However, mystery shoppers rarely provide valuable feedback on facility performance because managers usually know they’re being shopped.
By automatically implementing voice recording for all calls, self-storage owners can listen to a range of manager and prospect conversations. This avoids having to judge the location’s performance based on one staged call from a mystery shopper. While voice recording isn’t anything new to the industry, it’s often underutilized. This is a good way to understand true performance of a facility and eliminate costs associated with mystery shoppers.
The Next Step
Self-storage operators feeling the pain of the above challenges will find it worthwhile to learn about voice-based marketing automation. What used to be affordable only to Fortune 500 corporations is now accessible to small- and mid-sized companies.
While market dynamics can be tough to predict, one thing is certain: There has never been a better time to invest in this new technology. It can help streamline activities that often fall on the self-storage operator, such as answering the phone, collecting past-due rent, and determining how to allocate ad dollars across various mediums. Operators can instead focus their time and energy on increasing occupancy and taking care of current customers.
Irv Shapiro is CEO of Ifbyphone, where he is responsible for overall business strategy and corporate leadership. Ifbyphone works with self-storage operators to implement voice-based marketing automation. For more information, call 877.497.1040; visit www.publicifbyphone.com .