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What It Really Means to Provide a Superior Self-Storage Experience: A District Manager’s Perspective

As a self-storage operator, you’ve likely read or been told at some point that you should aim to provide a superior customer experience, but what does that actually look like? A district manager for the FreeUp Storage brand walks you through his interpretation.

Dave Boyer

July 5, 2023

4 Min Read
What It Really Means to Provide a Superior Self-Storage Experience

As self-storage operators, it’s easy for us to say that we want to give our prospects and tenants the best possible customer experience. What isn’t so easy is understanding what that truly means, or how to deliver it.

Some facility managers think the customer experience begins when a person visits the office to rent a storage unit. But if you’re waiting until that moment to begin providing great service, you’ve already missed many opportunities. In reality, the renter’s experience with your company begins the second they first interact with you, whether that’s on your website, a social media platform, the phone or in person.

Consumers are constantly on the web, doing their research, shopping around for the products and services they need. When they find your self-storage facility, you have one chance to set the tone for that business relationship. From the moment we have a prospect’s contact information, we must start building a connection through consistency and trust. We must say what we do and do what we say. In every interaction, we have the opportunity to lose or win their confidence.

Also, remember: If customers are finding you online, they’re finding your competitors, too. How are you going to set yourself apart? It often boils down to who wants the business more—you or the facility up the street. Timeliness matters here, folks! You need to follow up on any potential leads within five minutes, or they’ll move on to the company that does.

Finally, attitude and personality matter when dealing with customers. People can sense a positive, happy and smiling person no matter if the interaction is in person or via email or phone.

Being the Expert

It’s easy to say that we’re experts in self-storage, but what does that really mean? For a newly hired manager, it can be an overwhelming concept. To an uninspired manager, it means, “Here we go again.” In reality, it’s knowing every nook and cranny of your facility. It’s keeping tabs on your inventory, knowing how many vacant and occupied units you have. It means knowing the community in which you do business.

While rental rates are important, don’t focus on that metric exclusively. In my 20-plus years of sales experience, I’ve learned price doesn’t matter to most consumers, particularly if they can justify a higher cost due to a better overall experience. If you’re consistent and honest, have gained their trust, and your facility is clean and orderly, price is rarely an issue.

So, if the rental rate isn’t the fundamental factor, what is? To learn that, you need to the qualify customer’s needs. As the authority on self-storage, it’s up to you to control the conversation. Ask open-ended questions to get the prospect talking. Every person who needs storage is likely going through a stressful event or transition. It could be relocating, building or renovating a house, dealing with the death of a loved one, etc. It’s our responsibility as facility operators to make this process as seamless as possible, helping our customer every step of the way.

As the self-storage expert, you also have the opportunity (and responsibility) to help the customer choose the right space. Most people think a smaller size will be sufficient—until they run out of room. It’s all about educating them and setting expectations. Ask what they plan to store, then recommend the best unit to accommodate their goods. Your customer is trusting you to do right by them, and your advice will be welcome.

Until the Very End

Once the self-storage customer has entrusted you with their belongings, it’s up to you to foster and maintain that relationship. Some tenants rent for 30 days or less, while others stay for years. No matter the length of stay, we must always remain professional, courteous and respectful, all while being their go-to industry expert.

Always treat your tenants with the same positivity, dignity and respect you did during the very first interaction, even when they move out. How they’re treated when they leave will dictate whether they refer your facility to others. As always, challenge yourself to give the best customer experience!

Dave Boyer is a district manager with Spartan Investment Group, which operates the FreeUp Storage brand. He has more than seven years of experience in this role and has managed facilities in multiple states. Dave is passionate about self-storage, and loves the challenge of operations and driving results that create growth for managers, facilities and investors. For more information, call 866.375.4438 or email [email protected].

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