|The Inside Scoop|
Serve the Earth, Serve Your Self-Storage Customers
How do you define customer service in your self-storage operation? Does it relate only to those actions that directly impact a tenant, or does it extend to community or even global stewardship? Sunday is Earth Day, and even if you're not actively recognizing the event at your self-storage facilities, your business can serve its existing and future customers by doing its part for the planet.
Green is a growing trend in self-storage, and there's been no shortage of coverage on operators who are getting involved. From facilities who host recycling centers and switch off their lights for "Earth Hour" to those that sport solar panels for sustainability, self-storage is getting with the green program, one operator at a time. There are businesses like iStoreGreen in New York that weave eco-friendliness into their corporate identity, and others like LifeStorage in Chicago that include earth-friendly events in their community programs.
This weekend several LifeStorage facilities are offering discount document-shredding services, with all paper to be recycled. One facility is hosting an e-waste recycling event and collecting donated bicycles for the Working Bikes Cooperative.
Is your business engaging in Earth Day activities or efforts? Would you like to know how other operators are getting involved? Check out this thread on Self-Storage Talk for an ongoing conversation on the topic. If you'd like to do some general reading, visit our dedicated "Green Self-Storage" page, which includes industry eco news, case studies of green projects, and information about how operators can incorporate solar and other sustainable technology into their storage sites.
Getting your business on the green bandwagon accomplishes several things. It helps the planet. It helps your neighbors. It positions you as a community caregiver. It provides opportunities to educate and interact with current and existing customers. And, it's great PR. But let's not forget ways in which it helps you serve tenants and prospects. If you offer an e-waste recycling program, for example, you're helping people dispose of items that are sometimes difficult to unload. If you offer a document-shredding service, you're helping them maintain their own privacy and that of their customers (if they represent a business) while recycling unwanted paper.
Again, how is customer service defined in your self-storage operation? What does it encompass? Is this an area in which you or your employees could use a fresh perspective? If so, consider one of these resources, available for purchase in the new Inside Self-Storage Store:
- "Customer Service in Self-Storage: Benchmarks, Techniques and Inspired Delivery," a manager-training course presented by industry veteran Jim Chiswell
- "Great Customer Service in Self-Storage: How to Quit Discounting and Greatly Improve Profit," an on-demand video from the recent Inside Self-Storage World Expo, presented by industry management expert Anne Ballard (aka "The Hat Lady)
Customer service can mean a lot of different things. In self-storage, it can be as simple as listening to a troubled tenant, facilitating a move-in, being flexible about a payment or providing coffee in the management office. It can also be as large-scale as caring for the environment we all share and letting tenants know their welfare is important to your business. This weekend, think about how community care fits into your service philosophy, and have an excellent Earth Day.