Thoughts from the Road: Can Your Self-Storage Facility Be Found Online?
By Jim Chiswell
First of all, let me wish everyone a happy New Year. It's hard to believe that we’ve reached 2012 already. Now that the celebrations are over and we’re back to work, we’ll need to focus on the tasks that lie ahead. To do that, everyone needs to look back and create a scorecard for themselves in several vital areas.
We need to look at our financial performance and our operational results, such as the level of delinquencies still on the books. It’s vital to determine what marketing activities produced the best results in 2011. This is especially true in the debate over the allocation of resources—most notably Yellow Page ads versus the Internet. I've talked with many owners and managers from across the United States who report record results from their website and social-media activities. Yet, I still find countless facilities have no website.
As a result of the decision not to set up a website, owners think they have no presence on the Internet. In reality, if you have a facility telephone number, you can be found on the Internet. If your business is a chamber of commerce member, you can be found on the Internet. If your mail is delivered to your facility, you can be found on the Internet. If someone feels he got bad service at your facility, in many cases, you can be found on the Internet in his rants.
My challenge to you is to take an objective look at your business’s profile on the Internet. This goes well beyond the visibility of your website. Ask yourself, is my location properly identified on Google, Bing and Yahoo maps? It's very embarrassing for a client when I point out that the map he’s using to give people directions from his website is taking prospects to the wrong location. Actually, it’s more than embarrassing because it's costing their company money and lost opportunity for future rentals.
When was the last time you sat down and did a Google search for your business? Type in your telephone number or street address and city and see what results pop up. One of those results should be the facility’s name and link to your company's website. Then try searching just with your company name and no street address or city or state. How many other self storage businesses share your name?
Finding out what grade your facility’s Internet profile would earn, A-F, could be the most important marketing activity you’ll perform all year. Let me know how you think you’re doing by posting a comment below or joining the discussion on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s biggest online forum.
Jim Chiswell is an industry veteran and owner of Chiswell & Associates LLC. Since 1990, his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence, coaching and customized manager training. He’s served for a number of years on the Inside Self-Storage Editorial Advisory Board, is a moderator on the SelfStorageTalk.com interactive online community and is a faculty member of the Self-Storage Training Institute. Jim will be a featured speaker at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, March 14-16. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.selfstorageconsulting.com.