By Stacie Maxwell
One often overlooked source for boosting a self-storage facilitys bottom line is the added income that comes from box and merchandise sales. With or without a large showroom, and with or without a box-sales driving force such as third-party truck rentals, savvy managers are employing some very effective sales techniques to sell more boxes and packing supplies. If youre looking to boost your merchandise sales, here are five great and easily employable tips.
No. 1: Create a Neat and Organized Display
Customers in the middle of a storage move-in dont have time to go searching through mounds of supplies and disorganized racks of merchandise to look for items to pack their belongings. They dont have time to look for a price sticker, much less peruse all the little extras they dont even know they might need like gloves and permanent markers.
Even with a small amount of office space, you can create a clean, well-organized display with easy-to-read, prominently placed pricing for each item organized by item type/use. This makes it easy for customers to view and select the items they need.
Offices without large showrooms need not fret: A small space dedicated to displaying one of each item you offer, clearly labeled and priced, will work just as well as a large showroom filled with your entire inventory. Its not the vast amount of items you offer that makes the difference, its the ease of understanding and selection that wins the sale.
No. 2: Offer Box-Bundle Pricing
Most box distributors deliver retail-ready box inventory in flat bundles for the basic four sizes of small, medium, large and extra large. Why not leave several stacks bundled up and offer a nice discount if the customer purchases the whole thing?
For example, if your small boxes are $2 each, offer a bundle of 25 (or whatever bundle quantity you receive) for $1.80 each, a 10 percent discount. This method works well, as it provides a nice savings and makes the boxes much easier for the customer to transport.
No. 3: Present a Box-Buyback Program
Customers are often hesitant to purchase a large numbers of boxes, even bundles, as theyre just not sure how many theyre really going to need. Take that worry away by offering to buy back any flat, unmarked, ready-for-retail boxes purchased but never used. This works well to increase bundle sales as well.
Just make sure you tell the customer his purchase receipt is required for the buyback program, so you can refund the right amount if a discount was given on the original purchase. You dont have to buy them back at the full purchase price, but if you offer to compensate the customer for his anticipated loss from buying too many boxes, you can sit back and watch your sales grow as customers are released from the threat of buyers remorse.
No. 4: Create Discounted Packages to Suit Different Packing and Storing Needs
The boxes and packing supplies needed to pack a two-bedroom apartment will be vastly different than whats needed for a small office, and different still from the supplies to move a four-bedroom home. Statistics show one in four storage customers have never used storage and likely have less experience packing up their home or office as well.
Put together some packages to suit several different needs, such as the two-bedroom Starter Package, which might include 10 small boxes, 10 medium boxes, five each of the large and extra large boxes, two wardrobe boxes, one dish-pack set, one box of wrapping paper, one roll of bubble wrap, and four rolls of tape. The Office Moving Kit might contain a large number of file boxes and rolls of tape, but no large, extra large, wardrobe or dish-pack boxes. The Whole-House Package might contain a beefed-up version of the Starter Package, and also include some extra things like gripper gloves, some fragile labels and lots more tape.
To price these packages, ring everything into your software to get the full purchase price, and then apply whatever discount best suits your facility and community. Many operators find a 15 percent discount is reasonable. Then you can advertise All this for only $85, a $100 value!
No. 5: Dont Give Customers the Option of Saying No
As a former restaurant manager, I learned the importance of upselling to increase my personal and whole-restaurant sales. When taking an order, instead of asking, Do you want fries? I found I did much better when I asked, And how many fries would you like to add? This became one of the most important sales skills I taught my wait staff, and my location quickly became one of the top-grossing sales stores in the entire company.
The reason is simple: The first question allows the customer to choose yes or no. The second question only asks how many, using an open-ended question as an assumptive close and not giving the customer the choice of no. In the storage world, you can apply the same technique to many of the items found in your showroom including boxes, tape, markers, gloves, bubble wrap, etc.
On your next box sale, try asking, How many rolls of tape would you like to go with your boxes? I see you have a 15-box small bundle, so I know youll need at least two rolls, so how about you get the three-pack just to be safe?
One last piece of advice: In all situations, always try to take charge of the sale and offer your knowledge to solve your customer's problem. Being the local storage expert can help you increase your facility sales not just in terms of merchandise, but in your leasing and rental activity.
Customers who need storage are in the middle of some sort of trauma, be it large or small, and youre the key person who can help solve their problems. These five quick sales techniques are field-tested and proven to work when employed correctly, assisting your customers with making decisions theyre typically too stressed, busy or just plain tired to make.
Using just one or two of these techniques can directly and immediately affect your overall sales and drive more income to your facility. Employ them all, and pretty soon youll be watching your per-lease box sales skyrocket, your bottom line balloon, and youll never even have to utter the phrase, You want fries with that?
Stacie Maxwell is the marketing director for Universal Management Co., a full-service management and consulting company serving self-storage businesses worldwide. With more than 11 years of industry experience, shes responsible for the companys branding, design and marketing. For more information, call 770.801.1888; visit www.universalmanagementcompany.com .