Is it spring already? It seems like just yesterday that we were hunkering down for the slow winter months. The coming self-storage season promises to be an exciting one, and not just because of the seasonal curve we’ve all come to know and love. Over the past few years, the self-storage industry has been embracing modern tools to connect with consumers, businesses and industry peers more effectively than ever before. Case-in-point: #Storchat, the weekly Twitter chat for storage owners and operators.
#Storchat got its start back in August 2011 when the self-storage Twitter community was just getting its wings. Through 2012 and 2013, it has grown significantly with a dedicated crew and new visitors to the chat every week. Here’s a recap of some of our latest discussion topics:
We’re all familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but what about the lesser-known sites? Have you ever thought to use Pinterest to connect with adjacent markets like realtors and home stagers, or as visual ads for your units and amenities? Foursquare makes it easy to incentivize tenants to visit your facility. Yelp is the perfect word-of-mouth generator and a great place to practice handling negative (and positive) reviews. Wherever you choose to engage your customers, remember to maintain a consistent voice for your facility.
How do you handle your call traffic? If you don’t have the hours or manpower to field your overflow, you might consider using a call center like Phonesmart. Tools like Call Potential can do wonders for in-house call management. Twilio and CallFire create unique phone numbers to segment and track your facility’s marketing efforts.
Who are the most common tenants during springtime? Spring cleaners, home stagers and movers are emerging from winter hibernation and are begging to be romanced by an ambitious self-storage marketer. Seek them out at home staging and realty trade shows, and leave fliers and business cards at local home improvement stores. Maid services are also great opportunities to cultivate referral agreements.
So your marketing efforts are yielding an amazing number of leads. Do you have an effective way to follow up? SpareFoot surveyed facilities in their network with the highest move-in rates and found that they followed up within 10 minutes of the reservation. These facilities gained tenants 25% more effectively than those who did not follow up as quickly. Management software is an organizational necessity for storage facilities with a high volume of reservations.
Apartment Referral Programs
Residential property owners are a lucrative source for self-storage leads, especially with the national trend towards residential downsizing. Forge relationships with local apartment property managers and work towards a mutual referral program–incoming and outgoing residents will seek you out for their storage needs, and you’ll be able to offer storage tenants a potential place to live. And don’t stop at trading business cards–incentives like a service exchange or referral discount will be mutually beneficial.
Press exposure isn’t just about your public image–nowadays, PR serves as an increasingly important SEO tool. Connect with local media outlets, from TV and radio to magazines and blogs, whenever your facility has something to share.
Top Self-Storage Moments in Film and TV
Self-storage is a uniquely American industry, a quality reflected in numerous references to the industry in popular media. The popular image of self-storage is a great conversation starter for walk-ins, leading to opportunities to talk about amenities, lien policy and insurance.
And we don’t just mean self-storage trade shows. In order to grow your self-storage brand, it’s important to make a splash at conventions for related industries like realty and home staging. Stock up on business cards, bring a big bag, and chat up everyone you can. Talk about your hometown, the economy, your shared market–anything to leave your mark. In this discussion, we had guest speaker Tony Emerson field questions about his experience on Property Brothers (spoiler alert: the brothers are Canadian actors).
We’re always looking for new discussion ideas. If you have something to say, jump in on the chat every Wednesday at 3pm CST!
Are you going to the ISS World Expo in Las Vegas next week? Keep an eye out for the #Storchat group: we’re meeting on Thursday, April 4 between 3:30-4pm in the lobby! Whether or not you’re an active member, we’d love to meet you and chat in person.