About 15 years ago, I worked for a small start-up company whose specialty was computer repair, with a pickup and drop-off service for businesses. We purchased an old minivan with wood paneling from a local pizza-delivery shop and applied magnetic signs on the sides and back that proudly displayed our professional logo and phone number. I even had work shirts with that fancy logo.
One afternoon, the owner and I needed to buy supplies at the local wholesale warehouse. As we strolled up and down the aisles, I watched him grin and nod at every customer and employee. In one aisle, he helped a young woman with a child put something in her cart, and she was clearly grateful. When I told him that kind of kindness was unheard of, he said something I’ve never forgotten: “Service to others happens everywhere.”
About a week later, that young woman visited our repair store. When she needed her computer serviced, she looked for providers on Google and spotted our company. She said she hadn’t forgotten the man who helped her. His actions had said something about our company—that we were careful and helpful, and worth patronizing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still a customer!
Every day, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact in our community. Yes, it’s easy to do when we’re at our self-storage properties because we’re in our comfort zone. We know our facilities like the backs of our hands. But what about when we aren’t on site? Do we still have an opportunity to make a good impression? Absolutely!
Stand for Your Company
I’m privileged to work for a family-owned self-storage company. On more than a few occasions, I’ve had a meal with my regional manager and even his immediate supervisor. I’ve always been impressed by the way they treat servers. They have a manner that portrays compassion. I remember one time overhearing a server comment to a coworker, “I wish more of my tables were like that one there. They are so nice!”
The word represent means “standing for others.” When you put on your work shirt in the morning and head out the door, you stand for something greater than yourself. Take pride and let it be known that you work for XYZ Storage. As you shop for supplies, get your cup of coffee or fill your gas tank, it’s important to remember that you represent your company.
What if tomorrow’s self-storage prospect happens to be the person you just met or from whom you just bought something? I bet you’d be embarrassed if the person with whom you got upset at the coffee shop walked into your office that afternoon to rent a unit. What if the person you just cut off on the way back from the bank was the one who inquired about storing with you via e-mail that morning?
I’m not saying you need to bow to every person and give in to every request. I’m saying to treat others with the respect and courtesy you’d desire if you were the customer. Uphold your employer’s values and demonstrate integrity and honesty, even when you’re not at work.
Here’s an example of not standing for your company. I recently visited the local home-improvement store. As I was putting items in my cart, a young man asked if I worked there and could I cut a key for him? When I told him I wasn’t an employee, he told me he’d been waiting almost an hour for assistance after requesting it. Finally, an employee came down the aisle. When the customer asked about the key he needed, she said she had forgotten and gone to lunch. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not how you represent your brand.
Adhere to the Four Ps
To help me remember how to best represent my company, I follow the “Four P Principle.” I ask myself these four key questions every day:
- What will PROVIDE the greatest benefit to the customer? In other words, how I can differentiate my myself, my store and my company from competitors?
- What will PROMOTE my company to customers and the community? What do my interactions inside and outside of work say about my business?
- What will PRESENT to my potential and current customers that I take pride in my job and facility?
- What will PRODUCE the best end result for my store or company? What affect will (fill in the blank) have on my customers? My team? My company?
Let me leave you with this thought: Do and say what you must, but do it in a way that best represents who you are as an individual and tells those around you that the company you work for is the best in the business. Give a smile. Give a nod. Represent. You just never know who your next customer will be.
Kevin Lanning has been a facility manager for StorageMart since 2014. Founded in 1999 and based in Columbia, Mo., the company operates more than 200 self-storage properties across Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Kevin lives in Omaha, Neb., with his wife, Krystal. His outside interests include photography and woodworking. For more information, visit www.storage-mart.com.