Synchronize Your Self-Storage Business to Beat the Competition
A guest installment by Tony Jones, Manager, Inside Self-Storage Store
I just got back from Riverside, Calif., where I watched my stepdaughter compete in the 2013 eSynchro Age Group Synchronized Swimming Championships. The culmination of a busy and long synchro season, the annual meet draws around 1,000 athletes between the ages of 11 and 19 from across the country to vie for national championships in their age divisions. It is the top competition each year for swimmers 11 to 15 years old.
Just as outsiders often dismiss self-storage as overly simplistic, I once was among the throngs who discount synchronized swimming as a lesser sport, fooled by the theatrical makeup and glitzy swimsuits. In reality, this sport that combines elements of swimming, gymnastics and ballet requires incredible core strength, flexibility, precision and stamina and wreaks havoc on an athlete’s aerobic and anaerobic capabilities. For just a little taste, the next time you are in a pool, try floating on your back and then lifting one of your legs straight up to a 90-degree angle without sinking your body. Called a ballet leg, it’s among the most basic synchro moves and is a humbling experience.
During the season, my 15-year-old regularly practices more than 15 hours per week with her club and coaches, not counting what she does on her own. It sounds excessive, but the sport has so many intricacies and combines so many skill sets, that amount of dedication is pretty much the norm for the most competitive synchro athletes her age. At the Olympic level, synchro swimmers generally train more than any other athlete—as much as 10 hours per day, six days a week.
To be the best at any endeavor often takes tremendous work and dedication. It takes passion and commitment, and success begins with mastering the fundamentals. The same is true in self-storage, whether you’re developing better sales techniques, trying to improve customer-service initiatives or learning the finer points of managing a facility.
You have to be able to float before you can swim, and then each new skill learned begins to layer and build on top of each other until your proficiencies improve incrementally and cohesively, and you’re able to optimize your sales efforts and maximize revenue.
Make no mistake, self-storage operators are in competition every day. Athletes try to peak at the right times during a season, culminating with a championship. Business is different in that there is no predetermined beginning and end, other than your daily work hours. The game continues from day to day, from prospect to customer. The most successful operators experience wins daily and continue to work on their fundamentals and develop new skills, like the rising importance of Web marketing and mobile optimization.
Synchro judges critique and score every movement swimmers make in the water, and customers essentially apply the same critical eye to your business. My daughter’s 13-15 team placed fourth nationally this year, an incredible accomplishment. The sport at her level is dominated by West Zone clubs, with seven out of eight teams on the national-championship podium hailing from the West. Yet, it is easy for us to take for granted what we see from these teams on a regular basis at our local meets. We forget just how good they really are until we are able to size up the competition from other parts of the region and country.
Operators, too, need to know who their chief self-storage competitors are and how they are performing in their local market. It can also be eye opening to examine the sector from a national perspective to better gauge sweeping trends and market fluctuations. Master those, and you’re likely on your way to true three-mile domination. Complacency is your enemy and challenge to defeat.
A synchronized swim team develops a routine for meets at the beginning of the season but will continue to tinker and perfect it to compete at the highest level. The same should be true for your day-to-day management, professional development and training. Championship-caliber self-storage businesses are those with longevity and sustained growth, but to achieve that requires facilities to continually stand out from competitors in all facets of operation.
Let us know how you stay in peak operating condition and regularly beat your competition in the comments section below.
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