December 1, 2006

3 Min Read

Many self-storage owners are already using the Internet as a marketing tool. Just do a search on storage-related words on any search engine and youll see what I mean.

If youve learned anything about Internet advertising, you know you can spend a lot and get only a little in return. You may generate a lot of leads, but working them is different than processing incoming phone calls. Prospective tenants often do plenty of research online before deciding to buy or even making inquiry calls. Thus, many phone callers and walk-in inquiries have already pre-shopped on the Internet.

Opening Day

When you do get Internet leads, its like a rabbit chase. You must ask yourself a few questions before you move forward. Do you have a chance of catching this rabbit? If theyre too far away, they may not come close enough for you to lure them in. You could waste a lot of effort chasing them and come home hungry.

Can you get the rabbit out in the open when you have a good shot at it? If you dont have complete information for contacting a lead, its more like tracking a rabbit hiding in a bramble: Chances of a good shot are slim, and your dog wont be able to go after it, so you might as well forget it.

Instead, concentrate on the ones close enough to your facility anddepending on the contact info you havee-mail, snail mail or phone them. You must move quickly before they submit their names to more websites. Its not uncommon for people to shop several sites, submit contact info, and wait for responses. Just know: They want quick response through a great sales call. Practice your sales pitch and call immediately. Dont let the bunny get away!

Another hint: If staffers running your leads are order takers, they wont succeed. The people making your follow-up calls need to be dynamic, proactive sales people.

Dont Give Up the Chase

Chasing leads is time consuming and expensive but effective. You should be able to rent to 20 percent of the leads who live within five miles of your store if you have complete contact information. Unfortunately, the process can be chaotic and management intensive, so many operators shy away from taking the challenge.

These folks prefer to set up their own websites so people can make paid reservations, which has its benefits. Savvy Internet shoppers often prefer to make their own choices, on their own time, and fully appreciate self-service shopping. The no-show rate of paid online reservations is in the 25 percent range, which is good. The only drawback is you wont land too many of them.

Other operators create as many leads as possible but never follow upassuming that if 1 percent of leads show up on their own, it still equals direct-mail results. Experience tells us youll never capture more than 1 percent of leads you dont actively pursue. On the other hand, if you hunt them all, but arent working quickly, consistently and with a sales flair, you may not rent to more than 3 percent of web leads.

Dont be discouraged. As more and more people use online and wireless sources to shop, you need to prepare for a rambunctious rabbit chase. Its a run for your money, but dont give up. Happy hunting! 

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping service, sales-training programs and Want2Store.com facility locator. You can read what hes up to at www.selfstorageblog.com. For more information, e-mail [email protected]

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