The value of a self-storage tenant may be much more than you can initially take to the bank. In general, the most desirable customers are those who pay their rent on time, purchase retail merchandise, enroll in your insurance or protection plan, respect your property, follow the rules, are understanding about rent increases, and stay for years and years. They’re also vigilant about goings-on at the property and friendly with staff and other tenants. These folks have merit you may not be able to readily quantify, and yet you recognize the long-term benefits.
If you’re lucky enough to find some of these high-quality self-storage renters, it makes sense to nurture your relationship with them, so they want to stick around. Following are some strategies to help you retain their business and maximize the value they bring to your company.
Self-storage operators are constantly on the lookout for new sales leads, but the fact is that tenant retention is also key to revenue growth. It starts with providing top-notch service. Employees who treat customers with dignity and respect, making them feel appreciated, will generate more positive online reviews. The more positive reviews your facility can accumulate on multiple platforms, the higher your business will rank in organic search results. And we all know that most consumers read reviews about a business before committing to a purchase.
Showing gratitude to your tenants will also make them feel valued. This can take many forms and doesn’t have to break the bank. Even small gestures like actively listening to customer concerns, keeping your facility neat and clean, checking on them while they’re on your property, handing out bottled water on hot days, and simply thanking them for their business can go a long way toward building good rapport. They can also help ease the way if there’s ever a challenge to overcome, such as a late fee or rent increase.
Also, honor tenant longevity. Each year on their anniversary, send your renters a note to thank them for their patronage. This speaks volumes about the culture of your company, and any positive communication will be well-received.
Another strategy is to showcase individual self-storage customers in your office, on your website and on your social media platforms (with their permission, of course). Post a picture and a short write-up about the person or their business. This can be done on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Lots of people enjoy being in the spotlight, and it’ll draw interest from other prospects and tenants. Your audience will start looking forward to the next tenant profile and may even volunteer for one! Highlighting your customers will create positive conversations about your business, too.
In addition to feeling valued by your self-storage business, it's equally important that your tenants feel they’re receiving value by storing with you. Be mindful of the products and services you provide. Make sure your customers know about any ancillary offerings such as packing and moving supplies, truck rentals, postal services, propane-tank rental, wine storage, boat/RV storage, etc. The worth of these items to tenants and others in the community can be exponential. Even if you don’t offer any of these things, you can still deliver added value in the form of facility cleanliness, clear signage, strong security, staff helpfulness and other forms of good business.
Encourage and Reward Referrals
While you may never be able to quantify the exact value of each individual self-storage tenant, each one has the power to improve your business. Why? Tenants who are happy with your service are walking, talking billboards for your facility! Good word-of-mouth can create a positive perception of your company within the community, thereby bolstering your operation at no cost to you. People are 11 times more likely to complain about something than they are to give a compliment, so when they speak positively about your property and staff, it can have a huge impact.
Often, these prized tenants refer new customers to your business. If you don’t already have a referral program in place, consider adding one. Offer a discount or other reward to the current renter as well as something for the new customer. You can also offer incentives to others who send business to your facility such as local realtors, apartment managers, moving companies, etc. You can offer a cash reward or even a gift card for these valuable recommendations.
Tracking referrals can be a useful way to determine if and how many new customers someone has introduced to your self-storage facility. If you’re regularly gaining new business from a specific tenant or business, nurture and even mimic that relationship to increase this type of activity.
Every one of your self-storage tenants has value to your business. Sure, you can calculate how much money you earn from each of them in rent and other sales, but there are other benefits to be enjoyed form a positive relationship with customers. Follow the above strategies to build rapport, retain high-quality renters and ultimately improve your revenue.
Melissa Cronin is the senior area manager for San Diego Self Storage, which operates 20 locations in San Diego. Prior to joining the company five years ago, she worked in retail sales. To reach her, email [email protected].