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Building Relationships With Prospective Self-Storage Customers

When dealing with prospective self-storage customers, you aren’t just selling them a unit, or packing supplies, or any other product or service; you’re selling yourself and your company. It all starts with relationship-building. Here’s how to do it.

If you’ve ever visited a car lot, you may have had some apprehension or even irritation because you thought someone was going to try to put the “hard sell” on you. Some customers may feel the same way about contacting or visiting your self-storage facility. Your job as the manager is to put the company’s best foot forward, put prospects at ease and close the sale.

No matter what brings a person through your door, you’re not likely to get very far in your sales presentation without creating some kind of rapport. It all starts with relationship-building.

Meet and Greet

When a customer enters my store, I stand up. I want him to see me for who I am. In the past, I would meet him halfway across the sales floor and offer a warm smile and a handshake. The coronavirus has altered that practice; but I still stand and greet the customer, and smile, even if I’m wearing a mask.

First impressions matter. Your goal isn’t just to make a great impression, it’s to build the foundation for a new relationship. Your customer needs to see you as trustworthy or he’ll be out the door.

Seek to Know

Next, I inquire about the customer’s need for visiting, so I know how I can help. I ask what he’ll be storing. If it’s electronics, books or photographs, I suggest a climate-controlled unit. If he needs a place to store garden tools or a vehicle, I mention our drive-up units. Listen to the prospect’s needs and find an offering to match.

I recently got a call from a gentleman who’d visited our website and was interested in a 10-by-10. When I asked what he’d be storing, he mentioned a few tools and some parts to a car he’s restoring. He didn’t have room in his garage, and he thought a storage unit would help him keep his project on track. I asked polite questions to learn more. I was sincere. And with this information, I was able to offer him the best solution. The bonus was that while I was gathering these details, I was building a relationship with my customer. Build a relationship, and you’ll earn trust and loyalty.

Offer a Tour

Once I understand my customer’s needs, I offer a property tour (with proper social distancing, of course) and discuss our amenities. I point out how our gate works, our hours of operation, the best route to his unit, where to park when loading and unloading, how to access the building, the location of push carts and the elevator. I also point out security cameras and other important facility features.

During the tour, I explain when rent is due and when late fees occur. (I visit these topics again when presenting the lease.) I show him his exact unit or one just like it to confirm it’s the right size for his needs. Again, I’m proving that I’m on his side and have his best interests in mind.

Get a Commitment

To cement your new relationship, offer the tenant tips on how to store his items. For example, I might say, “Since you’ll be storing objects from your tool shed, let me offer a few solutions.” Here’s one that’ll help you sell ancillary items: “Our boxes are heavy-duty and come with handles, which’ll make it a lot easier to carry your books and kitchen items.”

The goal is to get the customer to commit to the rental. Here are some more helpful phrases you can use tighten the bond and move him closer to signing the agreement:

  • Let’s go back to the office and I’ll walk you through the paperwork.
  • Will you be paying with Visa or MasterCard?
  • Let’s put you on autopay so you never incur any late charges.
  • Here are some options to fulfill our insurance requirements.
  • You’ll need a lock for your unit. Let me show you my selection.
  • You mentioned you’ll be storing a mattress. Our mattress covers are the best because…

When it comes to selling your self-storage offerings, it’s important to build a relationship with the customer first. Let him know you’re glad he called or stopped by. Treat him like an extension of your family. Once you have his trust, you can bust out your skills and proceed to closing the deal.

Kevin Lanning has been a facility manager for StorageMart since 2014. Founded in 1999 and based in Columbia, Mo., the company operates more than 200 self-storage properties across Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Kevin lives in Omaha, Neb., with his wife, Krystal. His outside interests include photography and woodworking. For more information, visit www.storage-mart.com.

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