3. Set Up a Lead-Tracking System
When you’re only getting one or two chances a day to rent storage space, you have to learn to treat every lead like gold. Whether those leads come in by phone, the Internet or as walk-ins, you can’t keep up with rental leads by using yellow sticky notes. Since every rental is worth $1,000 or more, every loss is a expensive for your business. Consider the cost of not renting space:
- The cost to generate the lead is wasted.
- The value of the rental is lost.
- The opportunity to sell ancillary goods and services is gone.
- The opportunity to gain a referral is lost.
The most successful managers rent to a large number of their leads after a follow-up contact. One of the most important pieces to the lead-tracking puzzle is follow-up. Failing to follow up is tantamount to letting a prospective customer know you don’t care about his business and you really don’t want his money. You simply cannot afford to lose the sale.
4. Use a Call Center
It’s surprising in this day and age that so many self-storage operators still trust their rollover phone business to an answering machine or their managers' cell phones. Most potential customers will not leave a message on an answering machine, and it’s impossible for a manager to give a 100 percent sales effort while standing in line at the bank or out sweeping units. When you calculate the value of a rental at your facility and the costs of generating each lead, the value of using a call center seems clear.
Figure the cost of using a call center and the return on investment if it rents just one unit per month. You’ll find this service offers one of the highest returns of any of your other marketing efforts. Using a call center helps an independent operator more effectively compete with the big guys and increases his level of professionalism and customer service.
5. Put Your Rates Online
Today's self-storage customer expects to be able to do business with you online. If you’re still stuck in the dark ages and expect “Contact Us for a Free Quote” or “Reserve a Unit” to work, without publishing your rates, you really need to get with the program.
If the industry's largest operators, ones who’ve spent a gazillion dollars on customer and market research, believe it makes good business sense to publish their rates online, why not take advantage of their findings? They’re not stupid. Do you really think you can outsmart them by withholding your rates online? You can’t.
Adding online reservations with rates allows you to be more competitive with the major players. Statistics show that customers prefer seeing rates online, and every day your rates are missing, customers are passing you by. Unless you’re getting 10 to 20 leads a day, you cannot afford to let anyone pass you by!
You can rent more units using these proven techniques, which are used by the most successful self-storage operators. It’s no accident these operators have higher occupancy and rates than those who do not. It’s time to quit settling for “good enough.” You deserve better.
Bob Copper is partner in charge at Self Storage 101, an industry consulting firm that assists facility owner/operators and managers in developing more effective and profitable operational systems. It also aids in conducting performance reviews and providing the necessary tools to perform at higher levels in a competitive industry. For more information, call 866.269.1311; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.selfstorage101.com.