As information flows faster and the world feels smaller, many self-storage facilities are enjoying the benefits of cutting-edge technology, which can help operators accomplish many tasks. Every storage business needs two key elements to be successful: customers and professional staff. There are new tools on the market that can help you find both. This article focuses tools you can use to track marketing efforts and sales leads and recruit quality staff.
How can operators turn more rental inquiries into actionable leads and reservations? Next, how do they turn a larger portion of those leads and reservations into rentals? Through better data collection and improved sales skills.
There are two types of technology that will help you turn more prospects into renters. First, there are tracking tools that follow incoming calls and Web visits from ad campaigns, tracking sales results by campaign and salesperson. Second, there are call-recording and -evaluation tools that help storage owners assess the quality of interaction between their employees and potential customers.
There are many call-tracking systems on the marketing that allow storage operators to see which marketing campaigns are bringing in inquiries and the conversion rates of those efforts. Some include call-tracking phone lines with built-in recording and evaluation features. Some even offer a lead-management or customer-relationship-management component that helps to ensure efficient lead follow-up.
For those unfamiliar with lead tracking, here’s how it works: You associate a unique phone number with each marketing campaign—for example, one on your billboard, another on your print ad, another on your website, etc. The technology tracks how many leads and reservations are generated by each and records each call. You can listen to calls from specific campaigns to see if there’s a difference in the type of prospect attracted by each. You can also use the recordings to evaluate employee sales skills in relation to specific marketing efforts.
For instance, you might know from watching your statistics and listening to calls that the people who respond to your ads on the student-association website of your local college have a unique set of concerns and respond to certain offers. You can use this information to perfect the ads and establish a special call-handling method for this campaign. You’ll also be able to determine the optimal follow-up timing. All these actions will boost your conversion rates.
If you’re not using lead-tracking technology, put this on your radar and get it done this year. You could easily boost conversion rates 10 percent just by watching the numbers and taking simple actionable steps that become apparent in the process.
If you layer a set of more efficient lead-management practices on top, you could raise your conversion rate another 10 percent. If you think all this tracking and coaching and managing sounds like a big nuisance, you’re right. But a nuisance worth 20 percent of improvement in conversion rates could be a very profitable activity.
The other area where technology shows great promise is in the recruitment of self-storage managers. Most storage companies are too small to have a human resources department with people specializing in recruitment, compliance, benefits and payroll. This means they're either spending a great deal of time managing these processes, or they're skipping steps and making a lot of potentially costly mistakes.
If your employment process isn't thorough, you may be hiring managers who are not well-suited for the position, causing a lot of turnover, training issues, and poor customer-service and sales interactions. The cost to replace an ill-suited hire is tremendous. The price of providing less than stellar sales and service experiences is unfortunate and unnecessary.
Fortunately, there are companies streamlining the recruitment process through online services. For example, Active Screening enables storage owners to handle the application process, new-hire paperwork, background checks and other screenings online.
If you’re doing your new hiring correctly, you have a stack of paperwork and hours of preparation every time you need to fill a position. Being able to automate and digitize this process is a cost- and time-saver and helps you avoid poor hiring decisions. Sometimes storage owners hire people too quickly because they don’t want to go through the hassle of doing background checks for multiple candidates. I understand the desire to avoid mountains of paperwork and endless hours of interviewing. However, hiring is one of the most important decisions over which every owner has control.
Using an online system is a way to free yourself from the red tape and concentrate on the people side of recruitment. You'll be more deliberate in your decision-making process and hire a well-suited candidate.
There are many other ways technology can help storage operators save time and money. New tools emerge every day. Spend some time each week investigating these products and services. If just one proves to be worth a 20 percent increase in your sales-conversion rates, you’ll know you’ve made the right investment.
Tron Jordheim is the chief marketing officer of StorageMart and director of PhoneSmart. He has consulted for many self-storage companies and spoken at industry events in Canada, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Prior to joining StorageMart, he managed one of Culligan’s top U.S. bottled-water franchises. For more information, visit www.phone-smart.net.