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4 'Stupid-Simple' Tricks for Elevating Your Self-Storage Service Skills

By Rick Beal Comments
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Customer service is a topic that has filled books, lecture halls and training manuals since the dawn of retail. While the concept is fairly simple, it’s taken on an almost Herculean life of its own.

What customer-service formula should you follow for your self-storage business? Whose cute acronym will make your operation the most successful? I like to keep my business as simple as possible. In fact, I would go so far as to say “stupid-simple,” as in the KISS theory: “Keep it simple, stupid.” Here are four tricks for keeping your service model stupid-simple.

Stupid-Simple Trick 1: Infusive Service

Self-storage is unique. We’re trusted with customers’ most valued possessions, but we only see most of these people for about 15 minutes, during the rental process. Then they move out a year later, and we see them for a few minutes again. The whole exchange can seem cold and unfriendly.

Since we don’t see our customers often, I like to use “infusive service.” Infusive means inspiring or influencing. Your goal is help customers see the awesomeness of your facility. Have you ever had a tenant compliment you on the cleanliness of your property? That’s a result of infusive service. From a passive act, you’ve inspired your customer.

Infusive service is essential in self-storage. While you might only see your customers two or three times during their stay, they might visit their unit dozens of times, so everything little thing you do can have a huge impact.

How do you increase infusive service? Look at everything the customer touches—figuratively and literally—and ask how you can improve that experience. Word your signage so you communicate your messaging in an entertaining way. E-mail tenants a few times before assessing a late fee. Pipe music into your loading areas. Spend $4 every Saturday and give away cold bottles of water. By doing little things over time and paying attention to details, you’ll build a store brand that will inspire customers. This infusive service is the essence of operating a finely tuned facility.

Stupid-Simple Trick 2: Interaction

The second trick deals with direct customer interaction. It’s typically what we imagine customer service to be.

When I took a college statistics class I learned two things: One, I hated college statistics; and two, the bell curve is widely applicable to the world. Imagine we had a bell curve to represent the self-storage customer base. On one side of the bell, you have the customers who love us no matter what we do. We could dump rats into their units and they would say, “Well, I was thinking about getting some pets.” On the other side of the curve are the people for which we can’t do anything right. They want a reduction in rent because their 10-by-10 unit is really 9 feet, 11 inches on a side. Guess what? These are also the people who are most likely to leave a bad online review. Yikes!

Your sweet spot is the people in the middle of the curve. Fortunately, this is also your majority. These are the customers who need the most attention. When they feel special and appreciated, they’ll post positive reviews, refer your property to others and be loyal tenants.

Stupid-Simple Trick 3: The Right Staff

The third trick for providing the ultimate customer service is to put the right employees in place. In my short storage career, I’ve seen the change in industry professionalism. I tend to hire a more energetic employee, even if he’s inexperienced, while other operators might prefer a more sedate but seasoned crew. There’s no wrong way, but hire for personality and attitude.

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