In the self-storage industry, we generally deal with customers who are going through some sort of moving process. Life is full of transitions, and we facility operators are often on the front line. To be of help, it’s common for us to recommend local moving companies to our tenants. We hand them a business card or flier, wish them luck, and then the mover makes the money.
Why leave that ancillary revenue on the table? Perhaps it’s time to consider the addition of moving services to your list of offerings. It can bring profit to your business, but it also adds value to your brand and customer experience.
Choosing a Method
If you’re interested in providing moving services, there are two options to consider. You can either establish yourself as an agent who refers customers to a third party in exchange for part of the revenue, or you can launch your own moving company. There are pros and cons to each.
Partnering with a local mover is often cheaper than launching your own service. There are fewer regulations and less liability for your company. On the other hand, you have to share the income and won’t have total control over the quality of service provided.
If you go this route, establish a proper operating agreement with the moving company. Identify the terms to which you should both abide, including simple stipulations for cancellation in case you decide to end the relationship. Don’t get trapped in a partnership that doesn’t work for you. A contract can decrease stress if issues arise between your company and the mover.
If you launch you own service, you must consider startup costs, insurance requirements, equipment, ongoing vehicle maintenance and staffing needs. You also need to properly establish your company and follow any federal and state protocols. The reward is all the revenue stays in-house and you can control the operation.
No matter which method you choose, it’s wise to contact your state department of transportation or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to learn about applicable laws governing agents or moving companies. If you partner with a mover, it’s important to pick one that follows the rules.
The profit from moving services can be substantial. If you partner with a mover, you easily earn revenue by referring qualified leads. Your staff doesn’t need to know all the ins and outs of the business since they’re only giving referrals. They help convert prospects to customers, sending the mover new business it might not otherwise have had. That said, it’s up to the mover to close the deal. Let it handle the quoting process.
If you launch your own moving service, revenue will be dependent on several factors. These include how many vehicles you provide, how much staff you can commit to the operation, and monthly expenses such as insurance and truck maintenance.
A moving service creates great value for your customers, as they don’t have to deal with multiple businesses to get all the assistance they need. When they have to use different companies for storage, packing supplies and moving services, it can quickly become a large chore. When you offer multiple services under one roof, it makes their life much easier. You’ll relieve them of a lot of stress.
Your brand will also increase in value, not only because you’ve created a competitive advantage for your business, but because you’ve enhanced the customer experience. When you’re able to satisfy more or all of your tenants’ needs in one place, you bring more quality to the market.
Once you’ve established your moving service, you’ll need to train your staff to sell it. Any time you create a new product, there’ll be a learning curve. Having a proper training process, holding a company meeting, and creating a few call scripts or sales guides can help your team have productive conversations with prospects and turn them into qualified leads.
It’s important to keep the sales process simple and easy to understand for staff and customers. If selling these services becomes too difficult, you may find yourself wasting time and resources.
A marketing strategy is important to get the service off the ground. Create a few messages about your offering and add them to your overall campaign. This will help you develop a following and bring in new customers. A few tactics to consider include:
- Create pay-per-click ads.
- Add a new page or link on your website.
- Consider sending an e-mail to existing and past customers.
- Pass out fliers.
- Hang up bulletins in the office.
- Create ads or announcements on social media.
If you’re partnering with a third party, it’s important to create a method for tracking which leads come through your business so you get credit for these customers. An e-mail or online contact form is a perfect way to follow activity.
As with any new offering, you need time to let it grow roots. Be diligent with your mission but patient through the start-up process. You may not see an immediate return on your efforts, but over time, customers will learn about the services you offer and come to your door for help.
Once you’ve established your service and process, it’s critical to maintain a high standard of quality. If you use a partner, you’ll need to ensure customers receive top-notch service from the company. It’s important that the mover live up to the quality of your own brand. If it doesn’t share your values, it could be time to look for a new partner.
If you start your own moving company, you’ll need to oversee and evaluate the level of service your employees provide. This means damages, timeliness and efficiency must be tightly controlled to ensure customers are getting the best experience possible.
Whether you partner with a mover or do it yourself, moving services can create value for your bottom line, customers and brand. The more comprehensive your offerings become, the more you’ll enhance the customer experience. Remember that your prospects are likely in the middle of some sort of transition. Why not give them a one-stop-shop for everything they need?
Joseph Biard is operations manager for U Storage, which operates four self-storage facilities in Arkansas. He leads a growing team of facility managers and works to develop the company’s operational framework. He has experience in team development, sales and marketing management, budgeting, and facility maintenance. To reach him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.myustorage.com.