Self-storage has become more sophisticated and competitive, particularly in the advent of technology. Add to that, our customers have an extremely on-demand mindset. They want what they want when they want it. When they’re ready to rent a unit, you need to meet them on the platform they prefer, whether it’s in person, over the phone or online. They might want to communicate via email, text or chat. They may reach out via your website, social media, call center or kiosk.
Wherever your customers seek to do business with you, that’s where you must be. You have to adapt to the ever-changing market, or fall behind. If you don’t occasionally disrupt your processes and systems to adjust and improve, a competitor will gladly take your place.
When it comes to self-storage sales, flexibility is key, but so is follow-up. Prospects no longer have patience. When someone reaches out to you with an inquiry, you need to respond—and quickly—via a method with which he’s comfortable. When a new customer rents with you, it’s important to extend a welcome and provide any assistance or information he needs.
Following up is an art, one that’s become critical to self-storage success. Here are three strategies to help you excel and close more sales.
Lower Your Response Time
The most important element of self-storage lead follow-up is a fast response. Once an inquiry, reservation or rental comes in, it’s imperative that you contact the customer right away to thank him for his interest or business and answer any questions he might have. Here’s how it works:
- A response within five minutes is impactful.
- A response within 15 minutes is professional.
- A response within 30 minutes is mandatory.
That’s all you’ve really got: 30 minutes or less. The faster you are, the better you and your business will be perceived. Responsiveness begins to build trust and confidence in you and your brand.
Get Contact Information
Your website is among your strongest platforms to engage with customers. People can ask questions, make reservations and perhaps even rent a unit there. Using an online form or process, it’s easy to field inquiries and gather customer contact information, all of which should automatically be entered into your customer-relationship-management (CRM) software. With an automated alert to facility staff, follow-up is a snap.
Though contactless transactions are becoming more common, there are still customers who will simply stop by your self-storage facility or call. Nine times out of 10, if you properly handle the sales presentation, a customer who visits will rent with you. The phone is a bit more challenging. In either case, if the prospect isn’t ready to reserve or rent a unit, you have one primary goal: Before you let him walk out the door or hang up, get his name and contact information, so you can follow up!
If the customer doesn’t want to provide a phone number, ask for an email. If he’s still reluctant, a small enticement can help. For example, tell him you’d like to send a discount offer.
If a prospect initially reaches out to you via email, you’ve already got some of his info, which is great. As always, answer as quickly as possible. If he provides a phone number, it’s best to call; if not, simply respond to the message. You should have a basic email template that answers common questions, highlights your facility features and explains why your business is different (better) from competitors. It should invite the customer to call or visit. Lead him with a positive, guiding question such as, “Are you available this afternoon, or is the weekend better?”
Close the Loop
Once you have a prospect’s info, immediately enter it into your CRM platform and send a text or email to thank him for his interest. Say you look forward to earning his business. Within 24 to 48 hours, always being respectful of the customer’s time, reach out again via his preferred communication method to see how you can help further. For example, you might say (or write) something like:
Hi, Joe. This is Garrett with XYZ Self-Storage in Smithville. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but you inquired about renting a unit on Monday. I wanted to follow up and see if your self-storage needs have been met, or if you have any questions I can answer.
When a reservation comes in from your website or call center, enter the info into your CRM software, and then text or email a thank-you message. Include the customer’s proposed move-in date and directions to your facility. Set reminder for yourself to follow up the day before move-in to confirm his arrival time. If you have the ability, offer to complete the rental over the phone and send him a digital lease for signature.
In the case of a completed rental from your website, call center or kiosk, the follow-up process is much the same. Immediately reach out to the customer and thank him for his business. This is crucial! Confirm that everything went smoothly and that he received his email confirmation. Verify his move-in date and invite him to stop by the office for a complimentary bottle of water or cup of coffee when he’s on site.
Practice Your Art
“Speed to lead” is critical to sales success in today’s competitive self-storage environment. You must engage your customers quickly and personally. Take good notes on every prospect so you can align your product to his needs. Try to learn what he plans to store, when he needs a unit, if he’s ever used storage before, etc.
Follow-up is the key. Respond quickly to inquiries, reservations and rentals. Gather contact and other information. Finally, close the loop with good communication. Use the above strategies plus the tools at your disposal to close every sale, no matter its source.
Garrett Byrd is the franchise director for Storage Authority LLC, which offers a self-storage franchise model. He has more than 20 years of experience in real estate and self-storage management. To reach him, call 941.909.7222, or email [email protected].