There’s something wrong here. Self-storage operators keep spending buckets of money on marketing. They invest in efforts to generate phone calls, walk-in visits and Internet leads. But for far too many of them, it’s a huge waste of money and time.
Why? Because they invest absolutely nothing in creating a system to manage and follow up on those leads. The phone rings, the manager answers and nothing productive happens. Web leads come in and no one responds. A prospective customer walks in and leaves, and nothing ever comes of it. No one is prepared to handle those leads, and no one follows up. It’s like going fishing and not having a net to bring in the big one.
Developing and implementing an effective lead follow-up system is critically important in the goal to maximize marketing, increase closing percentages and make more money. Turning more leads into rentals is one of a facility manager's most important job responsibilities.
The most successful and professional self-storage operators have developed lead-management systems for their business, some more sophisticated than others. But whether the system is low-tech 3-by-5 cards or a high-tech automated one, the important thing is to ensure all prospective leads are documented and followed. To fail to maximize every potential lead is irresponsible on the part of the manager and inexplicable on the part of an owner.
There are four specific steps to developing and implementing an effective lead-management system. You should follow this process whether you operate one facility or several. Every potential lead is important to success, no matter the size of the self-storage company.
Step 1: Training
Spending even one thin dime on any marketing makes no sense if you fail to ensure the person responsible for reacting to the leads is well-trained. Why wouldn’t you make sure your manager knows how to answer the phone? Or how to respond quickly to Web leads? Or how to effectively make a sales presentation when someone walks in the door? Don’t take for granted that your manager knows how to do any of this, especially if you haven’t invested in his training. That’s unfair. Your manager should be trained in professional phone and in-store sales presentations, closing techniques, and effective lead follow-up.
What’s the No. 1 thing your managers must learn how to do with prospective leads? Get the person’s name and phone number. Without that information, there’s likely no sales presentation, no follow-up and no rental. And do not rely on caller ID to get the caller's number. That's tacky, unprofessional and potentially inaccurate.
Step 2: Set ExpectationsDoes the person responsible for maximizing lead-generation efforts clearly understand what’s expected of him? How many leads out of 10 are your managers expected to close? Do they know? Do you?
The most successful operators have clear expectations regarding lead-closing percentages and continually monitor those numbers for greater performance. If managers have no clear expectations or goals, how do you or they know if they’re doing a good job? For any lead-management system to work, you have to set and monitor these numbers:
- Response time to Web leads
- Percentage of phone leads converted into rentals
- Percentage of walk-ins converted into rentals