You’ve invested a lot to ensure the success of your business, building a nice facility and pumping a lot of money into an attractive marketing campaign. But are you evaluating your advertising program regularly to see if it’s actually working?
In the marketing business, we often hear the plea: “Help me make my Yellow Pages and Internet marketing programs work more effectively!” On review, it’s not unusual to find the call-tracking numbers are high, but conversion (transforming a caller into a renter) is low. If that’s the case, we often suggest a call-recording and tracking program along with further evaluation to see what has worked and what needs improvement.
How the phone is answered may seem trivial initially, but we must remember that to be successful, we need to check the foundation of a business to ensure its stability and the ability to handle growth. In our industry, the phone is the foundation. It’s your anchor to consumers, the link to potential new tenants. Without this anchor, your facility would be all washed up. If you have solid phone skills, though, you will stay afloat and remain steady even when economic tides are choppy.
We’ve all heard it before: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” Some employees don’t make the correlation between their phone etiquette and their paycheck. Without customers, limited opportunities exist to obtain a raise or bonus, but there is the chance of losing job security.
You may be confident in the way you and/or your employees are handling phone calls. What if you had a way to ensure your incoming calls were being handled appropriately and in the most effective manner to hook more tenants?
Perhaps a call-reporting system is the answer. With it, you can track how many calls you receive from print and Internet advertising, view a report that provides details such as time of day you receive the most calls, where the calls originate and the length of the call. You can also review how many after-hours calls you are missing.
As a result of this data you might want to add your website address as part of your voice message so callers can access information when you’re not at your desk. Ours is an impatient society that wants information now, with the least effort and cost.
With call-tracking and recording programs, you can play back calls whenever you choose, with our without your employees’ knowledge. If you can access call recordings and review the exact nature of conversations and how they are being handled, you can begin working on refining your sales process.
Certainly you can uncover the answer as to why your calls might not be converting new customers.
We are always asking ourselves, What do potential customers really want? How can I be different from the competition? What can I say or do to ensure they’ll do business with me instead of the storage site down the road?
Listening to your callers and evaluating what they’re saying is a skill like reading a compass. If you know how it works, it will lead you in the right direction. Likewise, a caller’s questions and input should point you to answers and questions that will lead you to a successful conclusion: a storage unit for them and contracts/cash flow for you.
Let’s take a look at an example of a call recorded through a tracking program:
Caller: “The self-storage down the street is offering three months free rent; do you have a special?”
Facility: “Yes, we offer two months free rent.”
Caller: “OK. Thanks.”
Do you or your staffers feel like you are taking calls from price shoppers all day long? If so, you might want to listen up, literally. This call could go one of two ways—as it did above, or in a more productive way, as in the conversation below.
Caller: The self-storage down the street is offering three months free rent; do you have a special?
Facility: We do have various specials tailored to your needs. Do you know what size unit you’ll need and for long you’re planning to store with us?
(Now you might get some information to begin building a relationship)
Caller: I'm not sure what size I need, but I have a one-bedroom apartment. I’ll probably need to store my things for nine months or a year.
Facility: The program that would work best for you would be our $29.95 move-in special with free use of our truck, which will save you moving fees. Then, we will give you two months free after you’ve been with us for six months. That means you receive eight months and are only charged for six. In addition, our facility has several safety features to protect your belongings and you will have 24-hour gate access to your unit.
Now, you’ve taken control of this call. Just by listening, you have learned what the competitor is offering, giving you a chance to have a “better” pitch ready for future price shoppers. By keeping them on the line, you also have the opportunity to turn this price shopper into an educated customer.
In that second phone call above, you deliver quite a sales pitch: about gate access and security. It’s highly likely the caller knew nothing about these features beforehand. Even if he thanks you for your time, hangs up and calls the competitor back, he’ll likely ask the manager at the other facility if the site offers gate access and security features. You’ve planted the seeds in his mind, and now these are ultimately more important to him. “Free rent” now becomes the least of the customer’s concerns.
Take a few extra minutes to listen to what your callers are really asking and you could have a new loyal occupant. Call-recording programs should be considered equally as important as call tracking and should be combined for a true results-oriented marketing program.
How many times have you made a phone call seeking information or assistance and hung up shaking your head in disappointment? Don’t let any of your potential clients hang up without thinking: That was the most helpful, nicest person I have spoken to all day and I feel safe storing my belonging at his facility. Do something today to anchor the success of your business in the future and make every call count.
Michelle Millis is senior client service manager of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit www.michaelswidler.com.