Retail sales can be a great tool to ensure your self-storage facility maximizes its earning potential while creating a great customer experience. Following is advice for improving your own merchandise program, with insight from my company’s 50-plus facilities in Northeast Florida, including tips for increasing your sales volume.
Set Them Up for Success
Customers will enjoy their stay at your facility more if their stored items remain in the same condition as when they moved in (in other words, no damage occurs). To help ensure this, we teach our frontline staff to set up customers for success. This includes making sure they have everything they need to store their items properly and safely.
First, we strongly recommend a sturdy disc lock. These are hard to penetrate and give us peace of mind that each tenant has adequately secured their unit. We also offer protective plastic covers for mattresses, sofas and other furniture, which helps keep items clean and dry. These basic, relatively cheap products help increase the odds that customers will enjoy their experience with self-storage.
Ensure a Good Profit Margin
If you price your items appropriately, retail products offer revenue at a good markup. Making your rental office a one-stop destination for customers to buy moving and packing supplies will increase your facility’s total revenue. Some items, such as moisture absorbers, can become repeat purchases, which helps create a steady stream of sales.
Bundles are great way to increase retail sales. We do a lot of bundling with boxes based on the various sizes we sell. I also like to include some bubble wrap and packing tape. Once customers use the wrap, they realize it’s a convenient way to safely package their items. In many cases, they end up buying more to get them through their move. Without the bundling, these repeat purchases may have been missed.
Bundles don’t always have to be formal, either. It might just be that you suggest certain items to the customer based on what works well together. We encourage our staff to link products that work hand in hand, like boxes with tape and wrapping paper.
Education is key to these sales. If a customer says they need boxes, we want to find out why and how the items will be used. Once we know more about the buyer’s needs, we can inform them of other products they may not have considered. It’s a great opportunity to generate extra sales! It also builds trust with customers and demonstrates our expertise. In an ideal world, this ultimately leads to a storage inquiry.
A great way to improve your self-storage retail sales is to set expectations for facility staff. I use key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess sales performance. This allows us to compare different stores and hold each to the same criteria and standards. It also enables us to measure retail sales against inquiries or new rentals and determine a conversion rate. Ultimately, if your sales message is consistent at each site, this percentage should be similar across your locations, regardless of size and occupancy.
Another tool to help increase retail sales is staff incentives. When managers stand to gain something from the process, they’re far more engaged and likely to close deals. Bonuses can be set up using KPIs, based on hitting certain criteria or simply a percentage of total sales. Use whichever makes the most sense for your organization. A simple program that’s easy to understand will improve results. The crux should be to motivate your team to sell while offering the right products to customers.
Create Peace of Mind
On rare occasions, a tenant will have a bad storage experience due to something out of our control that results in their goods being damaged or stolen. Knowing our staff has offered a quality lock, protective covers and other helpful items allows us to put some of the responsibility back on the customer, especially if they didn’t purchase the recommended products!
Mark Skrzypczak is director of operations for Atlantic Self Storage, which operates more than 50 facilities in Northeast Florida. He started with the company in 2011 as one of three district managers. In his current role for more than five years, he focuses on revenue growth, occupancy management, operational efficiency, training, strategic partnerships and the development of additional revenue streams. To reach him, call 904.234.7696; email [email protected].