#StorChat: Lessons Learned Lately

April 18, 2012 0
#StorChat: Lessons Learned Lately

#StorChat is riding self-storage into the 21st century as the industry’s only Twitter-based discussion forum for self-storage. Every Wednesday at 3 pm CST, self-storage owners and operators come together on Twitter to swap ideas, questions and inspiration in 140-character nuggets. If you haven’t joined in on the chat yet, it’s easy and fun to get involved. Here’s how, and here’s what you’ve been missing:

Facilities going tech
While the #StorChat crowd is naturally inclined to try new, modern business trends, the industry as a whole can be slow to adopt new tools. Using the web to streamline contract signing and bill pay is one area still in its pioneering phase in self-storage. However, facility operators see immediate benefits to going tech. Email lease agreements and digital signature services like Docusign are drawing buzz, as they offer convenience to tenants and help facilities conserve paper to go green.

Chatter @StorageMadMan recognized the potential of taking some storage facility operations to the web: “Setting up online payments leads to other choices like reservations, rentals, merchandise and services online,” he said in a recent #StorChat session.

On the other hand, managers are also cognizant of the factors keeping the industry rooted in traditional practices. According to chatter @HutchinsonA, only 2-3% of his tenant base utilizes the online bill pay capability on his facility website. @DesertStorage cited legal reasons to keep contracts in pen and ink: “Can’t take the chance that a judge wouldn’t allow the e-signature.”

Planning promotions
The consensus in #StorChat is that move-in specials shouldn’t be a default option for every tenant. Generally, these promotions should only be used to help close a contract, never to open negotiations. @DesertStorage shared guidelines for setting the scope of promotions: “Never more value than one month’s rent. Only on spaces with high vacancy… never on high demand spaces.”

Similarly, @CochraneStorage pointed out that promotions can be used more effectively to encourage repeat business. She noted that at her location, they’ve “opted to go for Loyal Customer discounts instead of $-off to unknowns.” This is especially useful for facilities with substantial referral rates. In other words, the happier you keep current tenants, the more word-of-mouth marketing you’ll accrue for your business.

The next #StorChat session is today at 1 pm PST/3 pm CST. Link your Twitter account to our room on TweetChat for easier interaction and to view the conversation in full. Come with questions and anecdotes, or feel free to just spectate. Either way, we hope to see you there!