Good customer service goes a long way toward the success of a business, yet so frequently we encounter employees who seem disinterested in their work. You know the type: When you enter an office or store, they ignore you or act like you're bothering them. It really makes you want to take your business elsewhere, doesn’t it?
Self-storage managers are officially the “Directors of First Impressions.” As frontline staff, they provide tenants, customers, vendors and the general public with the first impression of a facility and the company they represent.
How do you fare as the director of first impressions at your self-storage site? What impression do you provide when someone walks through the door for the first time? Are you genuinely happy to see them when they come in? Do you stand up, greet them promptly and call them by name if you know them?
10 Tips to Earn the Good Impression
Here are 10 tips that will help you succeed in making a good impression. Incorporating these items in your day-to-day activities will increase your facility’s business and leave you feeling more satisfied as you grow professionally and personally.
1. Be genuinely pleased to see everyone who walks through your door. Greet people at the door; hold it open for them as they enter. A smile and a handshake is always a great way to greet people—even the mailman. Be enthusiastic about your work. Treat everyone as if they were your personal guests.
2. Take interest in each caller or visitor. Smile easily. Ask questions to understand their needs and determine a solution for their requirements. Use open-ended questions to invite customers to paint a true picture of their situations. Make lots of notes and repeat things back to solidify your understanding. This helps people realize you identify with their situations and are serious in assisting them with the correct choices in storage. Offer the appropriate packing supplies, insurance or other ancillary items to enhance their storage experience.
3. Don’t presume, assume or lead. It is easy to think that we know the answers to tenants’ questions before they even ask. Remember each individual’s situation is different. Even if you can identify the solution quickly, you will have better rapport and a long-term tenant if you let them explain their needs in their own words.
Don’t make determinations about what folks will or won’t pay for, do or don’t want or what they know or don’t know. Also, don’t lead by asking a question and then answering it for them. Your job as a professional is to listen, offer the options and items that you feel would be of benefit to them, then let them make the decision.
4. Don’t say, “No.” If you do not have a solution that readily fits their needs, be creative. Rather than saying, “We don’t have a 10-by-10 at this time,” say, “We don’t have a 10-by-10, but I can offer you two 5-by-5s for the same price, or a 10-by-15 unit that will give you even more room. Which would work better for you?”
Remember you are in the business of providing solutions and renting all the units you have available. Don’t be easily stopped if customers hesitate to sign a rental agreement. They are calling or are in your office because they want to rent a unit, so find a solution that works for both of you.
5. Know your stuff. Practice and have a great presentation for each of the key items in your business, focusing on all of the following:
- Answering the phone
- Presenting the rental agreement
- Demonstrating the keypad
- Showing a unit
- Explaining the tenant’s responsibility for insuring his own goods
Be consistent in how you present all of the above so that all customers get the same great service. Know your policies and follow them. Read the rental agreement and understand the terms so you can explain with confidence any questions related to that document. If you do not know the answer, tell the person you will find out and get back to them ... then do it.
6. Maintain a neat and organized office. File items promptly; handle cash with diligence; audit your own work and that of your other staff. Two sets of eyes on all items of importance makes for a great check-and-balance system to assure everyone is in compliance and performing the tasks consistently.
7. Maintain great curb appeal. Make sure your windows and doors sparkle and are free of fingerprints and smears. Are you banners straight, not droopy? Replace torn or faded signage and banners promptly. Are all the light bulbs working? How does the landscaping look? Is your merchandise fully stocked and clean with prices on all items? How does the office smell? When you take immaculate care of your facility and surroundings, people will more easily believe in your business and entrust their belongings to your storage services.
8. Check the mirror before every shift. Wear your uniform with pride and ask for replacement shirts if yours are stained or worn-looking. Make sure your clothing is wrinkle free. Do your shoes need to be replaced? Presenting an impeccable you will help you feel confident about yourself, your work and property.
9. Track your key business statistics and goals. Understand how many move-ins you need to increase occupancy by 1 percent or meet your budgeted goals. Set a goal for merchandise sales and insurance penetration, and make a plan to succeed. For example, if you want to sell $700 in merchandise in a month, you’ll need to sell $23.33 a day to meet that goal. Monitor your performance daily to assure you’re on track.
10. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. Let your tenants and customers know you appreciate them regularly. You’re useless without them; good customer service will keep them around.
Tried and True
It’s no secret that these are just tried-and-true tips for good customer service, but while we all are aware of them, we all have the opportunity to improve on them every day. It takes a conscious effort. To truly be the Director of First Impressions you need to set yourself as an example of excellence.
As John D. Rockefeller Jr. said, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” Put these 10 tips to good use and you’ll be an uncommonly good manager who makes great first impressions every day on the job.
Linnea Appleby is president of Sarasota, Fla.-based PDQ Management Solutions Inc., which provides full-service facility management, consulting, startup, auditing, management and training services. She is also the managing director for the Florida Self Storage Association. For more information, call 941.377.3151; visit www.pdqmanagementsolutions.com.