By Nancy Martin Wagner
One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is head to my local farmers market. Theres something about seeing stacks, piles, rows, buckets and baskets of fresh and multi-colored vegetables, fruit, nuts, bread, plants and flowers that motivates me. I want to buy and make something with the tantalizing products.
Self-storage operators can apply a few simple ideas and rules from the time-honored tradition of the farmers market to their retail displays, selling techniques and customer-service skills. Clean, fresh, bright, shiny and new is how a self-storage retail area should always look so customers feel confident in their purchases.
When it comes to displaying your retail store, there are several important factors to consider including layout, quantities, signage and specials. Here are some tips that will attract customers attention.
Displaying large quantities of your best-sellers is a great way to encourage customers to purchase them. Multiple facings is a grocers term for putting many of an item on display to make it hard to miss, like stacking apple juice at the end of an aisle. In the self-storage world, this could be stacks of boxes, bubble-wrap rolls, tape, packing peanuts, moving blankets or clean newsprint.
Small and medium boxes are always needed and popular, so make sure you have bundles of each size on display. However, some customers will think what you have on display is your total inventory and wont ask for more. If you dont have enough display space, tell every customer who walks in, We have plenty of stock in the back. This is also a great way to start communication, instead the obvious May I help you?
Use big, bright, simple signs. The most effective sign has very few words and is impossible to miss. Make sure everyone who drives by or calls your facility, or visits your website, gets the message every time that you sell boxes and moving supplies. When customers are ready to buy, theyll remember you. That proven We Sell Boxes approach works!
Pricing should be visible and easy to understand so customers dont have to ask. Be creative. Use a menu board, or print signs and clip them to a basket or to the top item. Price signs and labels should also be consistent throughout the store to ensure shopping is a breeze for customers.
Offer special quantity discounts, for example, price small boxes at $2 each or $1.50 when a customer buys a bundle of 25. Or offer the fourth mattress bag free when the customer buys three. You can even create fun daily specials. Try this one: Buy any 10 boxes and get a free box knife or marker.
Treat your customers as youd like to be treated when you spend your hard-earned money. Be helpful, kind and honest. If you dont have the item a customer needs, know where he can find it. Or offer to special order the item and call him when its available.
Its also important to have a fair return policy. If your customers know they can return unused boxes, theyll buy more now. Let them know about your policy early so theyll trust you and relax about over buying.
Likewise, show them you care by suggesting the best and most secure lock for their storage unit. Explain how the lock is designed for self-storage and how difficult it is to remove.
There are a number of helpful suggestions you can make to customers, most of which can lead to a sale. For example, ask if theyre moving beds, and then explain how a mattress bag will keep out moisture and dirt. Or try this one: I cant believe how handy it is to have a big, boxed roll of bubble wrap when packing up a china cabinet. One box will go a long way, and its really protective.
Subliminal suggestions can be made simply by displaying one best-selling item next to a product that can be used with it. For example, display moving blankets with stretch-wrap rolls to suggest solutions for wrapping odd-shaped items.
When it comes to selling storage and moving supplies, self-storage operators have a great advantage. When customers shop with you, they have the convenience of pulling right up to the door and loading their vehicle without having to walk through a big store or wait in a checkout line. We must be prompt and eager when our customers are ready to pay. They want to be focused on, respected and appreciated for giving us their business.
We can encourage and promote customer loyalty by being there when theyre ready and help them load their vehicle or just simply hold the door open for them. Were here to serve them, and well be rewarded in return with bigger retail revenue.
Nancy Martin Wagner is vice president of marketing for Chateau Products Inc., a lock-and-latch manufacturer specializing in the self-storage industry. The company offers disc locks and padlocks for resale, cylinder BEZEL latching systems, retail-store fixtures and packing supplies. For more information, call 800.833.9296; visit www.chateauproducts.com.