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5 Things Self-Storage Operators Should Be Doing to Rent More Units

By Bob Copper Comments

If you own or operate a self-storage facility, you want to rent more units and make more money. That's the core of your business. But how do you accomplish this?

You could invest in marketing to get the phone to ring more often, create more walk-ins and make it easier for people to find you online. You should do those things, but the first step in renting more units is to maximize the leads you’re already getting and increase your conversion rate. There’s little point in doing in more marketing if you’re not doing your best to make the most of current efforts. Instead, try these five strategies to rent more units and generate more revenue.

1. Learn How to Answer the Phone

If you want to rent more units, learn how to answer the phone. I conduct several mystery-shop phone calls each month and, frankly, most facility managers are not very good on the phone. Sure, they can answer it, but so can all six of my grandkids. Effectively answering the phone means being able to convert callers into renters. It means giving prospective customers a reason to visit your store. With approximately 85 percent of potential customers calling before they visit a site, shouldn’t you make sure you know how to answer the phone?

Self-storage is a need-driven purchasing decision, and almost 90 percent of people looking for storage end up renting. Yet many managers believe that when they don’t rent a space, the potential tenant was “just looking.” Really? Who "just looks" for storage? If you didn’t rent a unit to a prospect, you can assume one of your competitors did, and that should not be OK with you.

To be effective on the phone:

  • Offer your name and ask for the customer’s, then use his name two or three times in the conversation.
  • Quit asking, “What size do you need?” That’s like operating a self-serve gas station and expecting the customer to solve his own problem.
  • Use price stalls, and do not quote a rate until you’ve covered the features and benefits of renting at your facility.
  • Don't give up when someone says, “I’ll have to think about it." Know how to overcome objections.
  • Finally, learn how to close the sale and rent the space.

2. Supercharge Your Referral Program

Your referral program is the only marketing effort for which you only pay when it works! But many storage operators are far too cheap when it comes to their referral program, and then they wonder why it doesn’t seem to work very well.

Offering a customer a $25 credit on his account is not a strong referral incentive. Why will you only pay a current customer $25 for a rental when you’re paying Yellow Pages and Internet aggregators much more than that for leads, whether the prospect rents a space or not? That doesn’t make sense!

To supercharge your referral program, start offering cash or gift cards, up to $50 or $75, and make the program a really big deal when you review the lease with a new customer. Expand your sales force as large as you can. Open your referral program to the local pizza-delivery guy, as well as all local apartment managers and real estate agents. When you consider the value of each rental, the investment in a great referral program is one of the best you’ll ever make in your self-storage operation.

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