The Acid Tests

September 1, 2004

4 Min Read
The Acid Tests


The Acid Tests

By Tron Jordheim

I like to play a game whenever I travel to aseminar or conference. I open the local Yellow Pages and call every storage facilitywith a display ad, from the biggest to the smallest. When someone answers, I try one of my two acid tests tosee what response I get.

The first test is The Information Question, where I ask,How late are you open today? You would not believe how many people onlytell me the store hours and let me off the phone without even asking why I needto know. If I were a current tenant, they should want to know if I needassistance when I get to the office. If I were someone on the collections list,they should want to confirm I know the correct amount to pay my bill. And if Iwere a rental inquiry, they should want to give me more information than theoffice hours! As a prospect, I want to talk to someone who will actuallyhelp me determine my storage needs and sell me a unit.

There are other questions that work well for this experiment,such as: Do you sell boxes? Do you rent trucks? Do I need a lock to store withyou? You may think I am joking about this, but so far, about seven out 10 peoplefail the test. You can increase the number of rentals at your store by simplymaking sure everyone who calls you either already rents from you or knows why heshould.

It Is Useless to Resist Us

The other acid test is The Weak Resistance Test. In thisversion, when the person answers the phone, I simply inquire about storage. I amnot looking for good sales technique, only waiting for the person to provide theprice of a unit. When he finally does, I tentatively say, Oh, thats alittle more than Im looking to spend. Surprisingly, few people have asuitable response to this statement. They usually give up, saying somethingalong the lines of, OK, thanks for calling. Come and visit us if youdlike. Good-bye.

Again, seven out of 10 of my test subjects fail to ask formore information. They dont even know if the price is $1 or $100 more than Ican afford. In my experience, a $10 difference in price between two storagefacilities is not a deal-breaker if the more expensive property provides realvalue or is more conveniently located. The trick is the opportunity to buildthat value.

A simple, effective response to this test would be somethinglike, Oh, I can understand that. What had you hoped to spend on your storageunit? You may be surprised by the answers. Some people used storage years agoand have no idea where prices are today. Some get quoted a price for a smallerunit at another store and do not realize the difference. Or perhaps you quoted aprice for a climate-controlled unit, and the store they called five minutes agoquoted them on a standard. You will not know if you do not ask, and you willlose the opportunity to justify your price and potentially make the sale.

Dont Make an Acid Test of Yourself

Dont fool yourself into thinking a caller isnt seriousjust because he doesnt make a decision right away or immediately visit yourstore. Not everyone in the market for a storage unit begins theconversation by saying, I need storage or asking, How much is a storageunit? Assume everyone who calls you is a buyer until you have askeda few good questions. The caller could be a mystery-shopper or a Yellow Pagesrepresentative confirming information. But odds are 99 percent of your callersare current tenants or prospects.

Finally, dont think your callers are too cheap torent from you. Very few people actually know what storage costs and any priceyou quote could cause sticker shock. Keep in mind that even $10 a month is morethan it costs a person to store his goods in his own basement, hold a garagesale, or put his stuff in the trash pile. When a prospect questions your priceor compares you to a less expensive facility, it presents a great opportunity tosell your site and unleash your knowledge and sales potential.

Remember that people dont store with a storage facility;they store with the people who work there. You can rent to more prospects if youprepare yourself and take a lesson from these acid tests. You never knowthenext time your phone rings, it might be me! Good luck and good selling.

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, which serves theself-storage industry as an off-site sales force that turns missed calls intorentals. This rollover-call service serves as a backup to storemanagers. Mr. Jordheim has started several successful businesses fromscratch, and assisted with acquisitions as general manager of the Mid-MissouriCulligan Bottled Water franchise. For more information call 866.639.1715; e-mail [email protected].

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