Self-Storage and the Mobile Revolution: Making the Change to Capture More Customers

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The first step to creating a mobile-optimized website is to tie up a .mobi domain. Get a scaled down version of your site created for mobile viewing with rent and reserve online capabilities. Make sure you have a phone number tied to a call center or someone who answers the phone during extended hours so they can take a paid reservation over the phone should the Web surfer turn into a caller, which is very common. The goal is to get consumers off the market, meet their needs and solve their problems. Make them customers, not shoppers.

Drivers of Mobile Web from Larry Hanks of The Storage Group***Next is to make sure the site is found through search-engine optimization (SEO) and the conversion to the mobile site is seamless. If potential renters visit your traditional website from their mobile phones, the site should recognize the phone and automatically deliver the mobile site.

“Since the launch of our mobile site, our owners have seen increased Web traffic and rentals at the store level,” says Brian Blankenship Sr., vice president of operations for Metro Storage LLC, which operates more than 100 self-storage facilities around the country. “Not only has the increase in unique visitors been impressive but, unexpectedly, the traffic to our traditional sites increased with very favorable Web analytics, all equating to new rentals, directly attributable to our Web efforts.”

Making the Change

If you’re going to be fully engaged in the prospecting business, it’s going to consume resources—emotional, financial and kinetic. It may mean you have to look at the storage business much differently than ever before. For many, it’s going to be just too much work. Some will go back to the way they’ve always done things and expect different results. Some will wait for the market to save them—good luck with that strategy. Others will see that third-party management will be the answer. It takes a lot of resources to develop the platforms that drive prospecting initiatives, then all of that has to transcend to near perfection at the front counter.

It will take committing to new strategies, reworking old ones and trying new initiatives. It means finding the right Web designer to optimize, index and properly anchor text, metatag and keyword your mobile and static site. All of that and you still have to avoid the sandbox (an SEO term for the period of time it’s believed Google sidelines new sites).

Just the thought of constantly reworking the SEO strategy and monitoring and launching pay-per-click campaigns to move your site up the ladder is exhausting. But it will be well worth the effort. You’ll create a better branded business and gain bigger market share, both of which will result in higher occupancy levels and increased revenue.

RK Kliebenstein is the vice president of business development for Metro Storage, which owns and operates more than 100 self-storage facilities across the country. He has more than 25 years of self-storage industry experience including development, design, management and operations. To reach him, e-mail rk@metrostorage.com .

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