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Call Centers Enrich Service

January 1, 2006

4 Min Read
Call Centers Enrich Service

In todays aggressive market, self-storage owners are continually in search of ways to ensure success. They must ask themselves: Are they doing all they can to attract new customers and keep existing tenants happy, or is there something more?

Most owners spend a great deal of time and effort to generate inquiries and build awareness of their facilities. And those marketing efforts are focused on one goal: to get the phone to ring, the customer through the door, and the rental agreement signed. Whether its a newspaper ad, direct mail, group meeting or telemarketing, the aim is the same.

Is Anyone There?

Suppose for a moment your marketing dollars are paying off and the phone is ringing. Wouldnt you want to know all your calls are being answered every time by a live person? Im talking about the calls that come in before and after operating hours, or when your manager is busy renting or marketing. All of these calls should be important to you.

Think about this: Self-storage is a people business as well as a retail business. Each facility creates its own 'family' consisting of the employees and customers. Its only natural that tenants and prospects who call want to speak to a living, breathing, friendly person and not an answering machine.

Some managers use cell phones to make sure they can answer calls while on site showing units. This is fine, but put yourself in the place of the manager or the prospect. Should the transaction be interrupted to take a call? What about someone who calls the managers cell number only to get a busy signal? These are examples of poor customer protocol.Capturing Missed Calls.

Fortunately, call-center services have been designed specifically for the self-storage industry. The better centers see to it that all calls are answered by a live representative, one who will not only give top-of-the-line service to existing tenants, but rent units to new customers. You may already know it costs seven to 10 times more to capture a new customer than retain an existing one. The perfect solution is to do both.

But thats not all. A good call center will also provide an ongoing lead database. For example, a caller lets the rep know hes not ready to commit to a rental but would like the manager to call back at a later date. This allows the manager to follow up until the prospect makes a decision.

Keep in mind a call center does not replace your employees. If anything, its only competition is your answering machine. The typical prospect will have questions about unit size, price, location, availability, discounts, security features, access and even directions to your site. A voicemail cant supply all of this information.Profit Source

Not all call-center services are alike. Beyond simply taking calls and answering a few questions, they must also contribute to the bottom line. Sure, a reliable center will charge a fee for its services, but the cost should be justified by benefits provided. The service should act as an offsite rental source. If it generates new business each month, the expense turns into profit.

Look at the advantages of a live representative: Prospects are taken off the market when the rep takes a reservation or credit-card depositthey arent going to the competition. When a tenant is upset because of problems with his access code, the rep is there to sooth ruffled feathers. An after-hours emergency call comes in, and the rep is there to alert the manager. These are the types of things that can lock in a new prospect or prolong an existing tenants stay.

An effective rep will answer questions, help and guide newcomers to your site and provide timely service for existing customers. Meaningful service is a rarity in the marketplace today, but its the most important component of sales. The right call center can help maximize your marketing dollars, employees effectiveness and your bottom line.

In the final analysis, assume your average monthly rental rate is $85 and your average tenant stay is six to eight months. Each call is probably worth between $510 and $680. Can you afford to miss one when your competitor is sitting there ready to capture it for you?

Susan Head is vice president of sales and marketing for The S&W Group, which provides management and consulting services to self-storage owners, and Phone Advantage, a division of S&W Property Management that offers an off-site rental source. For more information, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.sandwgroup.com.

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