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First Impressions Matter in Self-Storage! Make Those First Seconds With the Customer Count

By Linnea Appleby Comments
Continued from page 1

When tenants enter, don’t slink around in the background. Instead, greet them with a kind word and a smile. Take a break from what you’re doing and chat for a minute or two. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about your own business by talking with tenants.

Say the words “thank you” at every opportunity. Let your customers know you value their choice to do business with you. Your staff should be genuinely pleased to see each and every person who walks through your door and treat all of them pleasantly. If they don’t see you doing it, why should they? Visit some of your competitors to see what kind of greeting you receive. It shouldn’t be difficult to exceed the best you find.

Over the Phone

Many things have changed over the years in this industry, but good phone skills remain the key to success. The prospect often makes a decision about your business based on that first phone call. Does your manager sound bored, bothered or indifferent? Does he say the name of your business so fast the caller doesn’t understand or, worse, fails to say the name at all?

Don’t settle for a manager with poor phone skills. He might be a nine out of 10 on everything else, but if he’s a zero on the phone, you’ll never be as successful as you could and should be.

Phone-sales training is an ongoing process. Continual practice, evaluation and retraining is required to keep these skills sharp.

How one speaks makes all the difference. Remind staff to prepare themselves before answering the phone. They should stand, smile and be genuinely ready to have a conversation that will result in a solution for the caller and business for you. Develop and practice with employees on the words, body language, demeanor and tone to use when answering the phone. When 70 percent of the first impression on the phone is a how you speak rather than what you say, it’s important for staff to understand how they’re being perceived by the caller.

Using tools like mystery-shopper companies or call recording to monitor how your business is being represented to new customers is now standard practice. The quickest and easiest way to turn things around is to put laser focus on how phone calls are handled.

It’s easy to present a good first impression, but you must be proactive and incorporate it into the core of your business. Present yourself as the example for how people should be greeted and develop a standard phone etiquette that’s practiced with every call. Put a critical eye to the impression people get when entering your establishment and fix what can be easily fixed. First impressions matter! As quoted by John D. Rockefeller Jr., “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.”

Linnea Appleby is the owner of Lime Tree Management, a self-storage management and consulting firm in Sarasota, Fla. For more information, call 941.350.7859; e-mail, visit

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