If you want to succeed as a self-storage facility manager, you must be an effective communicator. Your job comprises many duties; and they all depend on your ability to speak and write clearly, concisely and with confidence. So, let’s dig in and enhance those skills, so you can improve your interactions with customers and coworkers!

Adam Gray, Sales Center Manager

February 21, 2024

6 Min Read

Communication is a critical skill in nearly every business. For self-storage facility operators, it’s paramount. As a property manager myself, I’d like to offer you the following advice from my decades of working in customer service, support and sales in various industries. I hope you find it useful.

Be the Expert

Possibly the most important part of being a great communicator is confidence. As a self-storage manager, you toe the company line, and the customer knows it. This means you’ll have to earn their trust, but it isn’t as hard as it may seem.

The best way to demonstrate assurance in your verbal and written interactions is to be an expert in your field. Know everything you need to know about your facility’s products and services. But there’s one caveat: You must believe in what you’re saying. Whether you’re selling a storage unit, boxes or a truck rental, make sure you’d be willing to buy it yourself. If you don’t have faith in it, neither will your customer.

Bottom line: If you aren’t the expert you need to be, you have homework to do.

Have a Groove (But Not a Rut)

Great salespeople don’t stick to a single pitch. You need to be agile and smooth. Now, I’m not saying to freestyle every interaction. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the self-storage industry, speaking off the cuff can come across as sloppy and half-hearted. It also leads to inconsistency.

So, outline the points you need to cover and hit them like a checklist in your mind while speaking with customers or writing an email. If you take the time to follow your flow, you won’t omit or overtalk any details. Then, when it’s time to close the deal, it’ll feel organic, like you and the customer arrived at the destination together.

Focus on Physical Gestures

Communication isn’t only about what people say. In fact, non-verbal cues can sometimes be more important than words.

When a self-storage customer enters your office, stand up. If you’re already standing, meet them halfway. Maybe even open the door when you see them coming. Kind gestures add up on the customer’s score card.

Also, be sure to smile. This may sound corny, but effective, positive communication begins simply with good eye contact, an open ear and a smile. Even if you aren’t meeting your customer face to face, convey your smile—on the phone or writing an email. Heck, I’m smiling right now!

On the other side of this coin is being able to read your customers and pick up on their body language. If you haven’t had enough life experience to develop this skill, consider joining an improvisational acting or performance class, or offer to speak at local events or within groups to which you belong. Maybe even take a public-speaking workshop or read a book about body language. All experience is good experience if you take something from it.

If you’re worried about your own non-verbal gestures when speaking with self-storage customers, carry a clipboard to keep your hands occupied. Maintain as much eye contact as you can and only point to things you’re talking about.

Practice Verbal Presentations

To improve your verbal communication skills, you must use them. Watch movies and plays to see how others act in a professional setting. Role-play uncomfortable scenarios with someone who’s helpful and willing. It can’t devolve into foolery, though, so keep it professional and focus on learning. Acting out difficult situations will help you minimize the element of chaos when something challenging comes up; but focus on the everyday stuff, too, as this’ll fine-tune your approach.

To overcome your communication weaknesses and build strength, practice speeches and conversations in a mirror, or even just in your head. Write down various approaches and see which is easiest and clearest. Be critical of your performance and ask others for input.

Just don’t get upset if you receive critical feedback. This includes online customer reviews and performance reports from superiors. Approach the input with an open mind and willingness to learn. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Take notes from the experience and try again. If you combine all this effort with the pursuit of written communication, you’ll achieve synergy that elevates all of your communication.

Clean Up Your Writing

A great way to improve your written communication is to observe professional sources for examples and emulate them. As a start, focus on proper spelling and grammar. Misspellings and sloppy documents are inexcusable. With all of the tools available today, there’s no reason for them. That said, don’t solely rely on spelling and grammar check. Make an honest attempt to compose the content accurately the first time, and then use these programs as a backup.

In addition, your writing should be clear and concise. Avoid jargon and abbreviations, and add a clear call to action. If possible, have someone proofread and give you notes. Just because you understand your copy doesn’t mean readers will interpret it the way you intended. The more input you get, the better your output can be.

Formatting and consistency are equally important, so use templates or research online to see how to organize a document. Consider creating a stylebook for your company to help create and maintain uniformity and professionalism in all brand communications.

Finally, as strange as it sounds, it’s good to smile while you’re writing, as it’ll help you maintain a positive tone.

Stay Positive

Even the best communicators have trouble closing the deal sometimes, and that’s OK. If you’ve done your best, wholeheartedly presented your self-storage product, and the customer still says no, that’s their loss. Continue to be positive and professional until the very end. Thank them for their time and let them know you’re happy to discuss your business with them if something changes. Then take a deep breath and move on. But always leave the interaction on a positive note because they may be back.

Today, a single communication can spread the globe in an instant and remain on permanent display. Coupled with that is the need to be consistent and on brand across communication types and channels. Great verbal and written skills will differentiate you from your self-storage competition, create peace of mind and transparency, and establish a path forward. It can prevent future trouble and create amazing experiences that leave customers feeling certain, comfortable and happy.

Fortunately, communication isn’t hard to improve, but you must pursue it. Even if you already communicate well, the world is ever-changing, and interactions with customers are evolving. What worked five years ago might not work at all tomorrow, and we need to be adaptable to remain competitive.

If nothing else, remember this: Don’t be afraid to seek examples of great communication to emulate. Never rest on your laurels (always be improving). And smile, even when you aren’t interacting with your self-storage customers face-to-face. It really shines through, as you can probably tell by reading this article!

Adam Gray is the sales-center manager for Guardian Storage, which operates 35 self-storage facilities throughout Colorado, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. With a passion for sales and customer service, he has more than two decades of contact-center experience. To reach him, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Adam Gray

Sales Center Manager, Guardian Storage

Adam Gray is the sales center manager for Guardian Storage, which operates more than 30 self-storage facilities throughout Colorado and Pennsylvania. With a passion for sales and customer service, he has more than two decades of contact-center experience. To reach him, email [email protected].

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