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Act Like You Care and Sell Like You Mean It: Engage and Capture Self-Storage Customers

All too often, self-storage operators don’t engage potential customers, either on the phone or when they walk through the door. Follow this advice to capture  your prospects and get them to rent a unit from you every time.


October 1, 2015

4 Min Read
Act Like You Care and Sell Like You Mean It: Engage and Capture Self-Storage Customers

By Tron Jordheim 

If you haven’t bought a car in a while, you should visit a new-car dealership and tell them you want to trade in your current car. They’ll let you borrow the vehicle you like and take your car away from you. They’ll make the excuse that the resale manager needs to inspect your car, and then hide it in the most remote place on their lot, so you won’t see it again until you rifle through it to take out your belongings after the deal is done. If you can’t make the deal happen immediately, they’ll maybe let you use the new car for a few days until you weaken and acquiesce to the purchase.

You might tell them you can only afford a $400 monthly payment, but when they’re done making you wait, feeding you popcorn and showing you pictures of their newborn babies, you’ll find out the best they can do is $500 a month. But wait, there’s more. You really need to add the extended-service plan because it will save you hundreds of dollars a year. Why would you risk a large repair or a tire replacement when you can have a service-plan payment that’s only a dollar a day?

They keep you waiting so long and grill you so thoroughly that you start exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome and cheer for them to make the sale. With Stockholm Syndrome, hostages become brainwashed into sympathizing with their captors and adopting their captors’ cause. Whatever happens, don’t go near a car dealership or you’ll buy a car, whether you want to or not.

So how is it possible that when I recently walked into a facility owned by one of the major self-storage real estate investment trusts and asked the person behind the counter how much a 5-by-5 unit costs, I was simply given the price? There was no sales pitch, just a simple, “It’s $179 dollars.” I stood there and counted to 20 in silence, then turned around and walked away.

People don’t go car shopping unless they’re going to buy a car. Similarly, someone doesn’t walk into a storage facility unless he needs rental space. There are a hundred ways the manager could have kept me in the office, engaged me in conversation and made me her hostage. She could’ve shown me unit after unit until I said, “I’ll take one!” She could have done all kinds of things, but she did nothing. How hard would it be to ask a few questions, show a few units and ask for the sale?

I sometimes call self-storage properties and ask whoever answers, “How late are you open today?” Ninety percent of the time, the person answering just gives the store hours and never asks why I called. How hard would it be to ask if the caller needed storage or to pay a bill or buy some supplies?

How much money are you leaving on the table? How many advertising dollars are you wasting? How many potential customers are you insulting by acting like you’re not interested in them? Yes, you’re insulting people by acting this way.

There may be some car dealerships where the salespeople are slouches, too. But the ones I know, you can’t step foot on the lot without making a new best friend and getting pulled into a process that has only one outcome—you buy a car.

How likely is it that when a person comes into one of your stores or calls you the result is a rental? You might think it’s 80 percent or better, but you might also be fooling yourself. Test your systems. Test your staff. How easy is it to get away from your self-storage property without renting a unit? There’s a reason people in selling call it “capturing a customer.” Go and capture some tenants!  

Tron Jordheim is the founder and CEO of Tron Jordheim Enterprises. He has a long track record in management, marketing, sales and public-relations innovations. In his 15-year tenure as the director of the PhoneSmart self-storage call center and chief marketing officer of StorageMart, he’s developed a deep understanding of the self-storage customer. To reach him, call 573.268.5217 or connect at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tronjordheim.

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