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Reengineering the Self-Storage Rental Process With Technology

By Robert Chiti Comments

Many self-storage operators have turned a corner in their marketing efforts. Yellow Pages advertising, direct mail and door hangers have been replaced with digital advertising, search engine optimization and social media campaigns. Those who have completed this transition are seeing great success. Now it’s time for them to take the next step and reengineer their rental process, too!

For most storage operations, the rental process begins and ends with the person behind the counter: the facility manager. However, consumer preferences have changed greatly over the last several years, and the rental procedure needs to evolve as well. Face-to-face interaction is great for consumers who prefer it, but many are just not interested in that level of intimacy. Some may not have the time for a facility tour and formal lease signing. Others simply prefer an electronic copy of their documents.

Self-storage operators who have reshaped their rental practice to accommodate these types of customers are positioning their business to gain more market share, catering to a faster moving and unconstrained consumer. Your rental process needn't be broken to require a redesign. An update will accomplish many things such as increasing net profit, reducing risk, lowering expenses, simplifying tasks, boosting employee productivity and improving customer convenience.

By using a bit of forward thinking and embracing some new technology, facility operators are finding ways to increase their market share and achieve their ideal performance level. Here's how you can do so, too.

Start With a Strategy

Your rental process is a critical part of your operation, so as you consider changes, make sure they align with your overall strategy. A process plan should make it easier for you to run your facility and consumers to do business with you. Buyer habits are shifting, and while many operators center their focus on customer service, very few give attention to customer convenience.

Customer service is based on the Golden Rule—"Treat others as you wish to be treated"—meaning you provide service based on what you would desire. Operating on this assumption is risky at best. In this scenario, all customers are forced to do business on your terms. They show up during office hours, greet you with a hearty handshake and tour the property. After agreeing on the best available unit size and rate, they sign the required paperwork, move in, and leave the property pleased about your high level of customer service.

Customer convenience, on the other hand, is based on the Platinum Rule: “Treat others as they wish to be treated.” This puts the focus on the consumer, gearing the process to be flexible and adaptive to his desires. It’s is all about offering ease and alternative processes so consumers can do business the way they want.

Many customers are in a hurry and would prefer a quick, efficient process to one that is “high-touch.” Today, millions of people choose to serve themselves online rather than travel to a brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase. Some like to talk or chat online with a customer-service representative before they make a decision. Some work during the day and want to shop after business hours.

Satisfying consumers today is not simple. It requires alternate approaches that meet different requirements. Ultimately, building your rental process around the Platinum Rule will allow you to win the battle for more renters.

Seek Technology Tools

Over the past decade, innovative technologies have been introduced to streamline the self-storage rental process. Your reengineering begins by implementing a sound infrastructure in the form of a modernized property-management system. The most efficient systems will interface with technology tools like onsite rental and payment stations, call centers, and website rental software. There are a number of tools that plug into your software to create new sales channels and improve process flow.

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