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6 Strategies for Dealing With Tough Self-Storage Tenants

By Krista Diamond Comments
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Here’s a little secret: The customer isn’t always right. Unfortunately, as a self-storage operator, you’ll regularly encounter tenants who are difficult, rude and just plain wrong. But while you can’t always protect your facility from security threats, inclement weather and pests, you can safeguard it against cranky customers. Here are six strategies to turn those problematic individuals into loyal renters.

1. Stick to the Facts

A tenant comes into your office. He’s angry because something is missing from his storage unit and he thinks you stole it. You know you didn’t take it and there’s probably a logical explanation. Your instincts might tell you to get defensive. After all, it’s never pleasant to be unfairly accused. Instead, stick to the facts. Reassure the customer you’re not a thief. Calmly suggest that he get in touch with anyone who has access to the unit, and reassure him of your facility’s security measures. You can even offer to show him security footage.

Whether you’re dealing with a tenant who’s blaming you for a missed rent payment, asking you to take responsibility for items damaged due to his own poor storage practices or accusing you of some other injustice, stick to the facts of the situation. Rather than raising your voice and asserting your opinion, remind the tenant about your lease terms, facility policies, etc.

2. Do Things in Person

In the age of smartphones and seemingly omnipresent Wi-Fi, it’s convenient to conduct a lot of business via e-mail. While this is fine for basic communication, if you’re dealing with an unhappy tenant, it’s always best to talk in person or at least pick up the phone. E-mail is efficient but denies both parties the opportunity to express tone of voice and body language, which can often lead to a misunderstanding.

Even if the tenant initiated the communication via e-mail, it’s still a good idea to call or set up a meeting to discuss the issue face-to-face. Not only is this a great way to demonstrate caring, thoughtful customer service, it’s a better and faster path to a solution. Instead of exchanging e-mails all week, you can have a conservation in person, fix whatever’s wrong and get back to running your storage facility.

3. Set Protocols

Ensure your entire team is on the same page when it comes to dealing with difficult tenants. Everyone should know when and how to issue refunds, what incentives to offer and what information to communicate, no matter the situation.

Consider weekly or monthly meetings to get everyone up to speed. You can devote each meeting to a specific type of customer interaction and how to handle it. Role playing, as awkward as it might feel, is a great way to practice handling unhappy tenants.

4. Know the Line

Doing everything in your power to keep tenants happy is a great way to earn loyalty while attracting new business through referrals. Occasionally, however, you may encounter someone who’s a little too difficult. A customer is certainly entitled to express his frustration, disappointment and confusion with you, but when he does so through threats, physical violence, sexual harassment or any other behavior that feels frightening or inappropriate, you’re no longer obligated to keep his business.

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