As a self-storage operator, many of the customers you interact with every day are experiencing major life changes. They may be dealing with life’s joys and adventures such as moving to a new city, having a baby or getting married. Or they could be grappling with life’s tragedies and disappointments: divorce, death and financial hardship. Whatever the case, when someone rents a storage unit, he’s often looking for more than just space. He’s looking for compassionate customer service.
In many industries, good customer service often feels rudimentary. But in self-storage, it can transcend the ordinary and become an unexpected cornerstone of business. After all, the most memorable service comes when you least expect it. Here are five ways to deliver it to your tenants.
In the digital age, it’s amazing how powerful a piece of actual mail can be. Anyone can fire off a quick e-mail or text, or make a phone call. The number of people who take the time to write something by hand, put it in a stamped envelope and place it in the mail is diminishing in personal and professional settings.
This is where you come in. A thank-you card is an unexpected way to express gratitude to storage customers. You can use one to show your appreciation to a long-time tenant, a new customer or one who just renewed his lease. You might also consider sending cards for other occasions—for example, a sympathy card for someone who’s using storage to safeguard the possessions of a recently deceased loved one, a congratulations card to a newly graduated student, or even holiday cards around November and December.
Many first-time storage users—and even a few long-term ones—don’t know everything about the best storage practices. You’re the expert. Don’t assume your tenants aren’t coming to you with inquiries because they don’t have any. Anticipate their unasked questions by offering advice through a variety of mediums.
In addition to making sure new tenants know they can come to you if they’re not sure how to store a tricky item, such as a flat screen TV, offer tips on your website or via an e-newsletter. You might even consider creating handouts with moving and packing tips or posting fliers around your facility.
If you have an active social media presence, engage with your current and prospective customers by responding to or liking their Facebook comments, tweeting back to them, or retweeting and responding to their messages. You can use this space to thank your customers as well as offer promotions and storage tips.
On your website, include your contact information including a business e-mail address so they can reach you through that platform. You might even add a user-friendly contact form so customers can reach you with questions or comments without having to open a separate window to send an e-mail.
Remember how excited you were as a kid when someone brought cookies for the whole class? That feeling applies to adults, too.
While you don’t have to commit to providing freshly baked cookies in your office every day (kudos to you, though, if you can), you can pledge to offer a little something extra once in a while. Whether it’s muffins every Wednesday, coffee every morning, pizza once a month or even just a bowl of good candy, providing some kind of treat to customers is a simple, effective way to make an impression. It not only gives you a few extra moments to chat with tenants—and perhaps even share information about a recent upgrade at your facility—it also gives them something to remember about your business.
Month-to-month leases with no long-term commitment make self-storage the perfect solution for those in the throes of changing life circumstances. With that in mind, it’s nice to reward loyal tenants. This is especially true if your facility is in a market where storage facilities are plentiful.
Acknowledge that your long-time customers have other options and you appreciate them choosing your business. When a tenant renews a lease, consider offering a token of gratitude, such as a free month of storage, an upgraded lock, one free use of a moving truck, a coupon for a discount on packing and moving supplies, or something non-storage related such as a gift card.
Rewarding customer loyalty is the best way to keep it. You don’t have to spend much. Even a $5 gift card to a coffee shop says volumes. The investment on your end might be minimal, but the impact on customer satisfaction will be huge.
Krista Diamond is a staff writer for StorageFront, which allows customers to custom search and compare thousands of self-storage facilities. She’s a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and lives in Las Vegas. When she isn't writing about storage, she’s climbing mountains in the desert. For more information, visit www.storagefront.com.