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Give Them What They Want

Amy Campbell

October 16, 2008

2 Min Read
Give Them What They Want

Last night I participated in a focus group hosted by our local grocery store, the managers of which are worried about the possibility of a new, larger, bigger food store being developed just a mile away. This poses a huge threat to our local grocer, who likely cannot compete with a big chain. One of the biggest reasons the store would fail is because it's completely out of touch with consumers. Hence, a focus group seemed like the perfect way to connect.

The group attending had lots of suggestions, from inventory to presentation, marketing and more. All the managers had to do was open the discussion and people began talking. We all left feeling like our input was well received. I also felt more of a commitment to shopping there, having stepped into "consulting" role. Not a bad strategy, I think, for managers of all types of businesses to consider: getting buy-in from customers is a big step to building loyalty.

According to Harvey Thompson, an internationally respected consultant on the topic of customer loyalty, many business owners/operators believe they are well qualified to outline exactly what their customers need. This is actually the second of 10 myths he outlines in his article "What They Want: Ten Myths About Your Customers."

"There is, in fact, someone else who better knows what the customer wants—the customer! In order to develop an ideal, customer-defined future vision of the firm, there is no other substitute," writes Thompson.

Asking customers what they want makes great sense from a self-storage management perspective as well, says Sue Weinman, regular columnist for ISS, who echoes Thompson's message in her own article, "Breeding the Best Advertising: Loyal Customers!"

"Customers want and need your help. Work at identifying WHAT they want and HOW they would like the service delivered," writes Weinman, who is a vice president at ad agency Michaels Wilder Inc.

It's seems obvious to self-storage managers that customers want a place to store belongings, but don't rule out the possibility that serving their needs can go beyond the obvious. What size unit will best fit their budget and belongings? Do they prefer paying in person, through the mail, over the Internet or via kiosk? Would they prefer to rent at a facility that offers mailing services, boxes, truck rentals and other conveniences?

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy doesn't work for most business operators. Instead, ask potential tenants what they'd like in their storage experience and they will likely spill the beans. Once they spill the beans, and assuming you follow through to meet those needs, they're likely to spill the bucks, too

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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