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January 2, 2008

4 Min Read
Marketing Prep

In any given self-storage facilitys market, there is a limited number of customers who will be in need of storage each month. To capture your fair share of this group, you must properly promote your facility. Marketing creatively will offer you the opportunity to gain a few additional rentals. But before you dip into your budget, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

Smart Sales Equals Great Marketing

First, make sure your staff has been very well-trained in telephone service. Provide them with a list of items that make your facility stand out in its market, questions that should be asked of each caller, and a closing statement inviting the potential customer to your site. Once you establish a format that works, post a copy by every phone in the office. This will give managers a guideline regarding what should be asked and which benefits of your store should be shared with prospects.

The goal behind each phone transaction should be to get the caller to visit your location. Once he has arrived at your facility, its the job of the manager to sell the unit and convert the prospect into a tenant. The managers attitude and personality is very important, as it is often a deciding factor behind whether the customer rents from you.

One of the easiest ways to guarantee a prospect does not leave without renting from you is to close the sale while touring the property. While walking through the facility, point out key features in which he may be interested. For example, if he mentioned a concern for security, show him your surveillance cameras, fencing and access gates.

Stock your golf cart with your resale locks. When you feel the prospect has made a decision on the size unit he needs, offer to include a lock with his rental. This way, you can lock his unit on the spot and hand him the key. By the time you return to the office, the sale is complete, and all that is left to be done is a little paperwork.

Aesthetic Appeal

Curb appeal is also an important part of marketing, so examine the drive-up and overall appearance of your facility. A clean, well-landscaped property will make a great first impression even before the customer walks into your office. You may want to consider upgrades to surveillance systems, gates or landscaping to provide a location where people would be comfortable storing their possessions.

Also evaluate your signage and entry to the facility. Make it stand out by using American flags, wind socks or banners if your municipality will allow it. A reader-board sign can be your best marketing tool if used correctly and changed often. Many of the same people drive by your facility daily; if you give them something new to read every couple of days, youll be the first company that comes to mind when they need storage.

Making the Most of Your Budget

With these items in place, you can now examine your marketing plan and the most effective way to use your budget. A Yellow Pages ad is necessary, though its not the most productive way to use the majority of your dollars. A smaller ad that stands out and identifies your location, phone number and Web address will be as valuable as any full-page advertisement. Use the remainder of your budget to focus on the immediate market area. Direct-mail pieces can be effective, but making personal contact with prospects in the area will produce better results.

Be creative and try to think of things that are not already being done by competitors. For example, approach the manager of a nearby restaurant with the offer of free drink koozies he can give to his customers, imprinted with your facility name and information. Or set up a booth at a local fair or market and hand out magnets or key chains with your name and logo on them. In some areas, working with your local chamber of commerce can be beneficial.

A website can also be a great marketing tool. It should be easily searchable, simple to navigate and uniquely your own. You dont want your website to look like your competitors and risk losing customers to them. Include unit-sizing information, helpful storage tips, a map, phone number and enough other information to entice people to call or visit your location. Visitors should also be able to contact you through your site and make payments there once they have become customers.

Whatever marketing avenues you pursue, dont get discouraged if the first few things you try arent successful. It will take some time to figure out what works for your individual location. And if you have more than one facility, what works at one site may not work at another. Think about what makes your store unique. While you cannot create a need for storage, by creatively promoting your facility, you can capture the majority of customers in your market. 

Tammy Ross is the president of Salt Lake City-based Cutting Edge Self Storage Management & Consulting, which provides third-party management, feasibility studies and consulting services to the self-storage industry. She has contributed numerous articles to industry publications and has been a featured speaker at self-storage tradeshows and seminars. For more information, call 801.273.1267; e-mail [email protected]

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