As a business operator in the fastest growing sector of commercial real estate, you have the exciting challenge of maintaining a high occupancy rate. But whatever type of customer you’re trying to rent to at your self-storage facility—residential, commercial, vehicle storage, wine storage, etc.—he may have some qualms about the service in general or your property in particular. You may experience a moment during the sales presentation when the potential tenant hesitates or expresses doubt. Below are the 10 most common objections and how to respond to them.
Objection 1: It’s Too Expensive
As in any retail operation, the No. 1 sales objection in self-storage is going to be based on money. Many consumers will rent a unit based on price alone. If your 5-by-5s aren’t the cheapest in town, you’re going to have to make a case for why you deserve the customer’s business.
You can do this by breaking down what’s included in the rent so the price makes sense. For example, perhaps it includes a free lock or free use of the company’s moving truck. You can also emphasize any specials your facility is running that will bring down the cost.
Also, if you have stellar online reviews, point to those. A customer is more likely to pay an extra $10 per month to rent at a facility with a four-star average on Yelp than one with a mere two stars.
Objection 2: There Are Too Many Fees
The second hurdle you’ll have to clear is fees. If you charge an administration fee, a security deposit or any other fees, there’s a chance the customer is going to feel as if you lured him in with low rent only to hit him with hidden charges.
Be upfront about your fees, and be specific about what each covers. Emphasize which are refundable so the customer feels he’s putting down a deposit rather than just throwing away money. You might also consider including something tangible like a lock, key fob or moving boxes so the cost goes toward something the tenant can actually use.
Objection 3: My Belongings Will Be Damaged
Many people think their possessions are safer where they can see them. If a customer expresses concern that his property might get damaged, whether by the elements or some sort of accident, list out the concrete steps your facility takes to prevent spoiled goods. You might mention your pest management, plans for snow removal and reputation for cleanliness. Suggest climate-controlled storage, which happens to be a great upsell, and share things the tenant can do to keep items safe while in storage.
Objection 4: My Stuff Will be Stolen
If your property has never had a break-in, or it’s been a really, really long time, then say so. If this isn’t the case, don’t lie, but point out your security features, especially if they’ve been recently upgraded or you have plans to upgrade them soon. Be specific about what makes your security so great. Maybe you’re the only facility in town with onsite management. Maybe you just installed state-of-the-art video cameras. This is your moment to brag about what makes your site protected.
Objection 5: There Are Other Facilities That Better Meet My Needs
All customers have unique needs. If they express doubt about your ability to meet theirs, spend a little time finding out what exactly they’re looking for and then demonstrate how your business can deliver. Even better, if your facility has an amenity that no other competitor offers—say, wine storage or an onsite business center with free printing—point that out.
Objection 6: If I Get Behind on Rent, My Unit Will Go to Auction
This objection typically comes from someone who’s seen too many episodes of “Storage Wars” or heard incorrect information about predatory business practices in the self-storage industry. It’s an easy protest to overcome. Simply explain your policies regarding late and unpaid rent in clear terms. Clarify exactly how much effort your business puts into communicating with tenants if there’s an issue with rent.
Objection 7: I’m Not Going to Need Storage Long-Term
You might hear this from a college student, military tenant or anyone who’s only going to be living in your area for a short time. Let this apprehensive customer know your units are rented on a month-to-month basis. Don’t assume everyone knows this. You might also mention how much notice a tenant needs to give before moving out and how easy that process will be.
Objection 8: I Can Just Store This in My Attic, Basement or Garage
As a self-storage professional, you know that an attic, basement or garage is no match for a storage unit. Explain which items need climate-controlled storage. List some objects the tenant is likely storing, such as photographs or leather furniture. Without getting too technical, explain how climate-controlled storage works and why a basement, garage or attic can’t provide this level of protection from the elements.
Objection 9: This Location Isn’t Convenient
Besides low price, the most important thing tenants will look for in a storage facility is convenience. Why should they rent at your site when they can rent at the one around the corner from their home?
Give them a reason. Maybe your facility charges lower prices because you aren’t centrally located. Maybe you offer some service no other facility in town can. Perhaps you’re one of the highest-rated locations in your community.
You can also ask the tenant how often he thinks he’ll visit his storage unit. Unless he’s going to drop by on a daily or weekly basis, location likely won’t be an inconvenience.
Objection 10: I Should Probably Just Throw Away This Stuff Instead of Storing It
Some people see self-storage as a reminder that they own too many things. They feel guilty about even thinking about renting extra space. After all, can’t they just recycle, donate and discard the things for which they don’t have room?
If your facility has a recycling bin or partners with charities that accept donations, especially those that pick up from your property, this is the time to mention it. It won’t dissuade the customer from renting with you. You can offer to help recycle or donate items and suggest a smaller unit than the size originally considered. This will make you look like a trustworthy, service-oriented operator, and it’ll still score the business.
In self-storage, operators deal with sales objections daily. Use the above techniques to turn a “no” into a “yes,” but also take the time to listen to customers’ concerns. These aren’t just doubts; they’re opportunities to improve and capture their business the next time around.
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.