For many, these are bleak times. People face hard decisions. During an economic downturn, they find it more difficult to meet financial obligations, and they seek answers to business and personal problems.
A residential community can make up 70 percent of a self-storage facility’s customer base. Consumers are dealing with changes such as downsizing a home, making room for a returning family member, or creating space for a home-based business. As self-storage managers and operators, we need to stop reacting to economic challenges and anticipate the needs of our tenants. We need to turn our thoughts from competitively wooing consumers to finding creative ways to help them.
This is not a new concept. It is simply examining consumer needs to find a niche market, and then providing the service it wants. However, the process does require us to change the way we think and do business.
Wouldn’t it feel good to know you made a positive impact in your community? The goodwill you generate now could have real marketing equity once the economy improves. If we stop focusing on profit and consider how we can meet the needs of customers and prospects, abundance will follow like metal to a magnet.
If you consistently seek ways to help customers, improving existing services and developing new ones, your facility will not only be profitable, it will be recognized as a community resource. To attract and keep customers, look for ways to help them.
When looking for ways to support customers, consider networking with other local businesses. For example, contact a reputable moving company to negotiate discounts on moving services for your customers. In this arrangement, your customer saves money as well as the hassle of finding a moving company, and you are viewed as a golden service provider.
In exchange, offer the moving company a discount on storage space. Perhaps the company would even consider using your facility as its home base. There is nothing better than a promotion plan in which everybody wins!
More for Commercial Tenants
Commercial customers generally use self-storage to house inventory and materials, but there are many ways for you to become a greater resource of support and help them overcome obstacles. Your commercial tenants are looking for ways to reduce costs; with a little creativity, your facility could serve as inexpensive, satellite office space.
An office can be easily created using a 10-by-10 unit―perfect for salespeople on the go. With a little effort, you can create a conference room in a 10-by-20 space, giving customers a place to hold meetings. Display boards, local phone service, an Internet connection or even a coffeemaker are value-added items that cost little but can make a big difference to your commercial customer.
When the chips are down, the perception of value is the key to growth and prosperity. When people believe you offer more value for their dollar, there is magic multiplication of business and profit. When they sense genuine friendship and concern in your business practices, you grow marketing equity, loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. Each value-added service you provide brings more recognition to your facility, which ultimately draws more customers.
Brian Johnston is the manager of Yorkdale Self Storage in Toronto, Ontario. He was awarded the 2007 Manager of the Year Award by the Canadian Self-Storage Association and is an expert in site management. For more information, call 416.787.3500; e-mail [email protected].