By Rob Kaminski
It’s amazing how two nearly identical self-storage facilities in the same region can have such different results when it comes to selling ancillary products such as locks, boxes and tape. Why would one report consistently poor sales while the other rakes in twice as much cash or more? After conversing with a number of successful self-storage owners, I’ve discovered their secret: retail upselling.
This is a sales technique whereby the seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades or other add-ons to make a more profitable sale. You may think this sounds similar to the old “bait and switch” method; but in reality, self-storage operators commonly upsell through bulk-discount offers and cross-selling. The intent and result is a better-served, more satisfied customer.
Drawing on input from some of the best self-storage retailers I’ve met, here's how you can use retail sales to deliver better customer service and generate more revenue.
Active Upselling Begins With a Smile
Active selling requires action. Do your managers ask people who walk through the door if they can help them or, better yet, if they’re packing to store, move or ship something? Or do they say a quick hello and go back to whatever they were doing? The best upsellers often come out from behind the counter and approach the customer while conversing. The best selling (and upselling) is based on helpful customer service.
A lot of people have little knowledge of what packing supplies they need or even what’s available. They may know they’ll need some boxes but little else, so it’s the manager’s job to help them choose the right boxes, cushioning materials, tape, etc. If the customer chooses seven or eight of one box size and you discount bundles of 10, the manager should point that out. If you offer refunds on unused boxes, the managers can add that it’s a “no risk” decision. That, my friends, is upselling.
Know Your Product
Product knowledge is critical to successful upselling. Managers who are good at retail sales usually know their products and how they’re used. They’ve studied the product sales sheets and the training materials the supplier provided. If they ask the right questions, they can help clients choose items they would have never considered, such as stretch wrap or wardrobe boxes. They even know when and how to demonstrate these products. Managers who become skilled at upselling not only increase the average sale, they improve customer relations. Plus their self-confidence extends to rentals and the sale of other services at the facility.