Many sales inquiries now begin online, so it’s more critical than ever to properly track your self-storage operation’s leads and follow up with prospects in a timely manner. To do this, you need a good system for lead tracking and management. You want all contacts to land in your property-management software with a tracking cookie to tell you their source. Then frontline staff can pick up the baton and run it over the finish line. Consider the following methods.
Establish a System
You expend good money and effort to get the phone to ring, the inbox to ding or the front door to open at your self-storage facility. Don’t you think it’s a good idea to track where those leads are originating to ensure you’re spending wisely? Are you managing those prospects effectively? If any manager says they close 100% of walk-ins, you need to seriously look at your reports. I can guarantee they don’t!
The first thing you need to do is make sure your self-storage management software is configured for lead funnel. The second is to establish a follow-up program all staff can readily understand and use. Lead follow-up is one of the most important things you do every day!
One way to improve team performance in this area is mystery shopping. My company has taken this approach and it has greatly improved our business. We examined three critical areas over two months:
- Was the original lead logged into the management software?
- Was a return phone call made from the facility?
- Did the storage representative discuss or mention benefits?
One thing we learned is continuous training is a must. Facility managers need to understand the importance of lead follow-up and why timing is critical.
Watch the Ticking Clock
There’s a lot of data showing that a self-storage manager who responds a prospect’s inquiry within 10 minutes or less turns that lead into a rental 25% more often than those who don’t. What kind of follow-up policy do you have at your facility? If you don’t have one, how can site staff do their jobs successfully?
How often have you looked at a software report to find a lead came in at 10 a.m. on Monday but the manager didn’t return the call until 4 p.m. on Tuesday? Or that a phone call from a prospect was never even logged into the management software? With today’s “want it now” consumer mentality, we can’t afford to have an “I’ll get to it later” attitude. We need to be on our A-game when the lead presents itself.
Lean on Software
The self-storage software companies have given us a great many tools to help us track our sales leads. Many of these programs allow customers to complete their rental from their smartphone. Are you using this feature? Is it working like you thought? Do you know how to effectively track these sales? Something I really like about the one we use is we can still track the original source to see where and how the lead began. This enables us to put more emphasis on marketing and sales channels that are working and uncover the ones aren’t.
We’ve also taken advantage of the rental-completion link in our software. It’s fantastic! It allows us to call the customer and confirm their need. We might say, “Hello, Mr. Smith. Now that we have perfect size unit selected for you, I can send you a link that’ll allow you to complete your rental, pay for it and receive your gate code before you even get to the facility.”
It can also help with your waiting list. Here’s an example: “Ms. Jones, I see you’re in need of a 10-by-10, climate-controlled unit. Great news! One just vacated. I can send you this link right now and you can complete the rental process where you are. Since it’s the last one, I can’t hold it until 6 p.m.” Guess what? It works!
One time we had five self-storage units that were rent-ready. By using the methods above, all were filled before I left that day. Stats don’t lie! Since our program rolled out, we close more sales and better track these leads.
Keep the Momentum
A common question is how long to hold onto a self-storage sales lead. Well, it depends. There are several variables to this equation. The most significant is when the customer needs the space. I found these statistics hanging on the wall of our vendor partners:
- 48% of all salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
- 25% make a second call and stop.
- 12% make three calls and stop.
- Only 10% of salespeople make more than three calls.
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
- 3% are made on the second contact.
- 5% are made on the third contact.
- 10% are made on the fourth contact.
- 80% are made on the fifth to 12th contact.
How many of us are giving up too soon? If configured correctly, your online leads are placed directly into your self-storage management software. You likely receive an alert as well as an email notification. Do your store computers have speakers? Is the volume up to tell managers when a lead comes in? I would bet a good percentage don’t.
Again, tracking is key! Whether the sales lead started in your office, on your website or even with an aggregator, you need to track it. Granted, there’s some configuration to get your system ready, but results don’t lie. You’re spending money to gain these leads. Now it’s time to turn them into self-storage renters!
Jim Mooney Jr. is vice president of operations for Freedom Storage Management. He leverages his 20 years of experience to improve the performance of the company’s portfolio of Pennsylvania self-storage properties. He was formerly a vice president for Devon Self Storage, where he held various positions. He serves on the Pennsylvania Self Storage Association Board of Directors and has been a speaker at numerous industry events. To reach Jim, call 717.767.2735; email [email protected].