Last weekend I decided it was time to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Exciting purchase, right? But it was an essential one, so I began with an online search. I landed on a model that I liked and looked for the best price. I found it on the Kohl’s website on sale and with free shipping. Yay! The only problem was I couldn’t get a visual of the product on display at the store and there weren’t any reviews on the retailer’s website.
So, I hopped over to Amazon and found what I needed. There were plenty of evaluations on my target purchase, plus pictures! Most were positive, though, a few customers had issues. Overall, the assessments gave me confidence I was making the right decision.
Many of us find ourselves making more purchases online these days. It’s a hallmark of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it’s groceries, clothing, entertainment or even a vacuum cleaner, we’re turning to the Internet to find the things we need. This goes for your self-storage customers as well. Sure, they might have driven by your site, but when it comes to renting a unit, they’re likely considering your competitors, too. Taking a personal tour of several storage facilities is just no longer an option as we continue to social distance, so they’re looking online for info on your business.
Operators with comprehensive websites that offer pricing, list amenities and even provide a video tour will come out ahead. This is all great, but your prospects know you’re putting your best foot forward. So how can they determine if you’re really worth their consideration? Customer testimonials.
Recommendations from people who are already your customers can help convince your prospects that you are deserving of their business. They affirm you can be trusted to keep their treasured belongings safe. They can drive sales and fill your units. Consider the following advice on obtaining and using them.
Ask! If you don’t ask for them, you likely won’t get them. There are so many opportunities to make this request. If you’re still doing in-person rentals, you can ask after you’ve completed the rental. If rentals have moved online, you can follow-up with an email a week or so after the move-in. Really, you can request feedback any time. You can add it to your newsletter, billing statement and social media posts.
Some might find asking for a testimonial awkward or even uncomfortable. You might also be worried the person will provide a negative one, which isn’t your goal. While it’s good practice to ask everyone, it’s not mandatory. If you’re getting a bad vibe from someone who seems angry, irritated or otherwise wouldn’t be fair to your business, you can certainly pass on the ask. You’ll likely find most people who’ve had a pleasant experience with your facility will be happy to provide feedback. Be clear with them on how you plan to use their response and get permission.
Make it simple. A complicated process to leave a testimonial won’t fly. If you want them, you need to make it easy. If they must go to a specific page, then create a username and password, you might not get many participants. There are many third-party review sites and you can create pathways to these from your website and social media platforms. But it’s important to note you won’t have any control over these. Meaning if it’s bad, you’re stuck with it. You will be able to respond, but once the words out there, it might be damaging to your business.
If you're sending an email to ask for customer testimonials, be sure to add a link to the place where they can leave feedback. It’s also beneficial to let customers know it’ll only take a few minutes to complete.
Use it. Positive testimonials can be used in a number of places, including your own website. You might even create a page on your website just to display them. Some operators post them on the main landing page, so visitors see them first. You can also share these great responses on your social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many operators regularly post short video testimonials on their social media pages or YouTube.
Another avenue is your marketing collateral, such as brochures or fliers you mail to local apartment complexes and businesses, moving companies, and realtors. If you have an advertising budget, consider how you can leverage these compliments in your ads.
Customer testimonials can be a powerful tool for self-storage operators, especially as we continue to turn to the Internet to fulfill so many of our needs. It’s often an underutilized marketing strategy that’s actually easy to employ. The next time a tenant praises your self-storage business, get it in writing.