The self-storage industry is flourishing, but that doesn’t mean facility operators can rest on their laurels. More competition is coming, which means managers must be primed and prepped to close rentals. Read why sales scripts are still important and what they should include.

Matthew Van Horn, Founder

March 23, 2022

6 Min Read
Why Self-Storage Operators Still Need Sales Scripts and What They Should Include

The self-storage industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, stability, profitability and investment. For many operators, facility occupancy is at an all-time high; and increasingly more investors are getting into the business. These are all good things, but the flip side to that coin is new and more abundant competition.

When times are good, many self-storage owners and investors try to enhance revenue, valuations and returns by cutting expenses on fundamental items such as marketing, sales training and curb appeal. The common justification is: “Why spend money on these things when my facility is well-occupied, demand hasn’t slowed, and revenue is up? I must be doing something right!”

First, “something” isn’t an operational strategy and is only slightly less reliable than throwing dice on a craps table. Second, the reason to invest in these items is the same reason elite athletes don’t stop training when they reach the pinnacle of success: “Complacency is the enemy of progress.” This doesn’t mean you can’t dial back your budget on a specific expense, like pay-per-click advertising, but you might not want to cut your whole search engine optimization budget.

When the markets change, as they inevitably will, you’ll really need these self-storage essentials. They need to be vetted, implemented, trained, practiced and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. For the purposes of this article, I want to focus on the sales component, as it’s so critical to success and should never be left to chance.

You Need Scripts

To begin, sit down and map out your tenant-acquisition process, commonly referred to as the “customer journey.” How are you getting potential renters to your self-storage facility? You should be using a marketing and sales funnel. This refers to all the systems that lead customers from knowing nothing about you to signing a lease.

Typically, self-storage prospects contact a storage business in one of three ways: online, on the phone or in person. Each of these is a unique situation, but they have one thing in common: They require a sales script! That’s right, a written, fine-tuned guide for facility staff to follow.

Self-storage operators sometimes question the need for sale scripts because they think it makes the process more robotic. But if implemented correctly, a script simply guides employees to cover all the critical points while still leaving them the freedom to exert their best personality traits. It’s like acting: Anyone can read a script, but only some actors can bring the right intangibles to a role to create a winning performance.

The Phone Script

Even in this contact-free age, the first personal contact a potential customer has with a self-storage facility is often a phone call. This doesn’t mean they haven’t visited your website, read your social media posts or even rented their unit online. But eventually, they’ll need to ask a question or get help with something, and then they’ll often pick up the phone.

A ringing phone is paramount in self-storage. It’s on par with a fire alarm or emergency siren. In just a few minutes, you need to convince the person on the other end of the line to visit your facility. If you’re able to convince them to reserve a unit, make an appointment or lease the unit online, that’s even better. A well-written sales script can help you get there. Here’s what it should include:

  • Greeting: Describe how you want staff to answer the phone. They don’t necessarily need to follow it word for word, but capture the desired tone and tenor. For example, you might prefer a casual “Hello, this is Brad. How can I help?” or a more formal “This is ABC Self Storage, the cleanest self-storage facility in Anywhere, USA. My name is Brad. How can I help you today?”

  • Contact information: The script should clarify which specific information staff should collect from the customer, such as name, phone number and email address.

  • Needs assessment: To match each customer with the appropriate unit, the team member needs to ask probing and consultative questions. Your script should explain what those are. They might include things like: What will you be storing? How soon do you need the unit? How long do you expect to rent the space?

  • Points of differentiation: The sales script should provide guidance for when and how the employee should discuss your facility’s value proposition including amenities, pricing, current specials, hour of operations, access hours, etc.

  • The close: How do you want your team member to approach making an appointment or reservation? If the customer is comfortable renting the unit over the phone, the script should outline that procedure, too.

  • Follow-up: Finally, the script should explain what to do once the call is complete, including how staff should follow up with the prospect. Consider any automated systems that may be used, such as email and texting.

The Walk-In Script

Some customers prefer to visit a self-storage facility in person before committing to a unit rental. In some cases, they may already have communicated with staff via email or phone; other times, they’re walking in “cold.” You need to determine which is true, so you know which sales script to follow.

If this is the customer’s first contact, you can follow the same general script as used for the phone. If they’ve already spoken to someone at the property, find out who it was (if not you) and when, so you can check the office notes and get some background. Then pick up the sale process where it left off.

Keep in mind that the customer can now see you and the property. You should be able to use that to your advantage. For example, in the office, you might point out the security monitors behind the front desk. If you take them on a tour, include more information about facility features and benefits. The walk-in script should explain, in detail, how you want the property to be shown, including where to take the customer and in what order, and which amenities to point out.

Finally, remember: The script is still essential, but in a walk-in situation, the condition of the property alone will speak volumes and should make it much easier to close the sale. Make sure the curb appeal is as high as possible. Everything should be clean and presentable, from the parking lot and driveways to the office to the storage hallways and doors.

Details Count

While the self-storage industry is in this period of prosperity and growth, now’s the time to prepare your operation for the competition that’ll inevitably come. This means putting a greater focus on fundamentals like your sales presentation.

As University of California, Los Angeles coaching legend John Wooden once said, “I believe in the basics: attention to, and perfection of, tiny details that might be commonly overlooked. They may seem trivial, perhaps even laughable to those who don’t understand, but they aren’t. They are fundamental to your progress in basketball, business and life. They are the difference between champions and near champions.” He couldn’t be more correct. Think of your self-storage sales scripts as “tiny details,” and get them just right.

Matthew Van Horn is the founder of Black Swan Storage Advisors, which specializes in self-storage consulting, feasibility studies, underwriting and investment analysis, site selection, and facility management. To reach him, call 855.720.6030 or email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Matthew Van Horn

Founder, Black Swan Storage Advisors

Matthew Van Horn is the founder of Black Swan Storage Advisors, which specializes in self-storage consulting, feasibility studies, underwriting and investment analysis, site selection, and facility management. To reach him, call 855.720.6030 or email [email protected].

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