As someone who’s been in the self storage industry for over a decade, I’ve seen vast improvements in the way self storage facilities present themselves. As facilities raise the bar in terms of their marketing & pricing, it’s time to think outside the box in order to continue to stand out from the crowd. Let’s take a look…
1. Create a Warm & Welcoming Environment
Banks and financial institutions are great examples of how much customer service has changed over the last decade. I remember visiting banks as a child with my parents and they were dreary and drab places; high counters, bright fluro lights, staff seated behind perspex screens with a small grill to speak through.
Fast-forward to today and, aside from cash-handling areas, banks are now very open plan with oval tables, designer chairs, incandescent lighting, complimentary espresso coffee (barista courses are cheap these days!) and free WiFi. Banks are now, dare I say it, warm and welcoming environments. Self storage offices need to evolve in this way, too.
Self storage has become so impersonal – yet ‘people’ are the precise reason why self storage exists.
Remove the “dividing counter” between you and your customers and move to an open plan environment with wooden benches, a good coffee machine and non-fluro down lighting.
If you’re worried about paperwork getting in the way, then there are plenty of solutions for that – such as online reservations & move-in tools provided by self storage management software applications such as Storman. There’s also paperless storage agreements & the ability to save storer documentation within your management software. For collaborative working, there are some great office productivity tools such as Google Sheets and Google Docs.
From time to time, you should also review your facility as a whole. Consider how you can alter aspects of your company such as colour scheme (including physical building colours), your logo, website, vehicle / courtesy trailer branding, staff uniforms, landscaping and so on to bring it into the 21st century. The number of times I’ve seen storage facilities with garden beds that appear to be growing nothing more than black irrigation hoses is concerning!
A memory that comes to mind is arriving, unannounced mind you, at Safeway Self Storage in Ashmore (now Storage King Ashmore), on the Gold Coast.
Manager at the time, Helen Reibelt, had cooked some apple & cinnamon muffins that morning for her customers and wow… the office smelled amazing – and yet I remember this interaction 8 years later. It’s the little touches that make all the difference.
2. Showcase Your Offering
Something I’m starting to see more of these days is a “demo unit”. Often situated within the facility office, this can be something as simple as lines painted on the ground to mark out the dimensions of your popular unit sizes.
This is a great idea and it gives storers a sense of the space they might need – and might even save you a trip out of the office to find and open an empty unit.
3. Can Your Website Seal the Deal?
You don’t work 24/7, but your website needs to. Shift workers, people researching online after work, people moving interstate or from overseas are just some of the many reasons why someone might be visiting your website after-hours.
Ensure it conveys the right messages to help them reach a decision. Your website should make it easy for customers to store with you while their buy intent is high. Perhaps add self-service tools, or even a live-chat function… if you need a hand with any of this, just let me know.
4. Offer Value-Added Services
Does your facility offer coffee and tea, or chilled water for storers? How about free WiFi to help them while they’re between houses (and internet providers)? Think about why storers might be using your services and extrapolate. Get your staff together to build a “mind map” of ideas. Here are some to get you started:
- If customers are lifting and shifting heavy boxes in summer, then they might want to shower afterwards. Only a few of the sites I’ve visited in the course of my travels as a Storman Trainer had an on-site shower for storers, and only one of them offered a discount to storers from a nearby massage store at a local Westfield to relax and unwind a few days after their move.
- If customers are moving house, they might need help with redirecting mail or reconnecting electricity. Provide links to a “Moving House Cheat Sheet” (printed and/or on your website), or offer copies of reconnection paperwork from relevant suppliers.
- If customers are renovating, offer details of local tradespeople for various related services – again, on a cheat sheet or similar. However, be sure to state that you are not ‘recommending’ these firms, rather you’re just providing a list of local providers you’ve come across. All storers should be encouraged to do their own research and check reviews, etc – much like any removalists you may ‘recommend’.
- Build an online resource library with how-to links, articles, blogs, tips, even branded videos that you can film on your mobile phone and upload to YouTube. This can be as simple as adding a page to your website to bring all of this content together. This would also work well in your follow-up emails to enquiries from potential storers or in your welcome pack.
Read more about increasing your appeal to potential self storage customers.
5. Create Unexpected Loyalty
Unexpected loyalty is the process of offering something when the customer least expects it. Rather than always offering discounts to your long-term (e.g. 12 months contract) storers, offer the discount unexpectedly during the course of their stay. A few months prior to, say, ‘Month 11’, send an email or SMS from your management software to thank them for their loyalty and offer a discount of some kind on the final month.
This unexpected loyalty will make your customer feel loved and they’ll likely recommend your business to others. It may also work wonders on that exit survey you’re hopefully sending to them upon move out.
Over to You…
I hope you enjoyed my post. Have you got any ideas to add? Please leave a comment below! You can also read on to explore some of my other marketing & customer experience articles.