Likeability: Your Ace in the Hole

March 21, 2013 3
Likeability: Your Ace in the Hole

Whether or not your self-storage facility exudes such “property personality” as landscaping, artistic flair or clean and crisp buildings, personal likeability is often still the deal-maker or deal-breaker.

For consumers just looking for a place to stash their stuff, the weight of fun or fancy amenities may be negligible in their decision-making process. Other considerations being equal, they will naturally gravitate to someone they like over someone who is inattentive, uncaring or downright rude.

Besides impacting business volume in a one-on-one environment, likeability weighs heavily on the types of reviews showing up on Google and elsewhere. How many times have you seen positive or negative comments focused entirely on customer service, or lack thereof? The food at a five-star restaurant may be great, but if the person serving it is a jerk, the consequent review may be very negative.

In self-storage, where there is generally less opportunity than in many other settings to make a sparkling impression, a sparkling personality can go a long way towards signing up new tenants, keeping current ones and receiving positive reviews.

Here are a few tips for dealing with prospects and customers, as well as employees, suppliers and other stakeholders in a likeable way:

1. Think about how you would like to be treated on your worst day, then act accordingly. Daily stressors are through the roof, and normally happy and easygoing people may become difficult. The world is a challenging place; try to be an oasis—that safe comfort zone—in today’s tough environment.

2. Match level of difficulty with level of friendliness. Short of enduring abusive or threatening behavior, let the person you’re communicating with know that you appreciate their pain. Without being overly intrusive, try to determine what’s at the bottom of someone’s unpleasantness if possible. If it ties to your self-storage facility in some way (and it’s a legitimate concern), do everything humanly possible to rectify the situation. If it’s a bad experience with self-storage in general, set out to change the patterns—and let the person know it. In some cases, it will be an event completely unrelated to self-storage—divorce, financial perils, death of a family member or friend, or any other number of calamitous events that cause people to seek self-storage. Just try to be a friend, within reason of course.

3. Perform a random act of kindness. Do something nice even when there’s no imminent reward. For example, when someone is obviously economically challenged, use full discretionary authority to help them out in some way. This, of course, requires upfront policy-making so that the self-storage facility representative knows ahead of time what can and can’t be done. If it’s a matter of cashflow, what can you do reasonably to help? If it’s a matter of timing, like waiting for a check or other upcoming event, see how you can creatively structure payment to provide needed time. Will people take unfair advantage? Of course. We can all be conned. But at the end of the day, people will be truly appreciative and loyal more often than not. Those people, unlike others carrying a grudge because they feel like you wronged them, also are much less likely to retaliate through theft or vandalism.

4. Welcome “whining.” Often, unhappy customers won’t complain because they’re uncomfortable with confrontation. Some quietly stop being customers. Encourage tenants to share both compliments and complaints in a constructive way, using this opportunity to establish some ground rules of engagement–for example, all comments are welcome as long as they aren’t abusive, profane or threatening.

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  • Jim

    Great advice. Like it says, we do run into a few who will take advantage of your kindness as a way to cheat you, but those who sincerely appreciate your ability to help them in a tough spot will greatly appreciate it, remember it, and be happy to talk about your great service to their friends. We all need to remember, most of the self storage clients are here because of some disruption in their lives, we need to position ourselves as a solution to at least a part of their disruption, and treat them as we would like to be treated.

    • Wendy Fox

      I agree, most customers are not HAPPY to be moving or have to store their items. This often comes from some sort of disruption in their life. How would you like this
      happening to you? Always put yourself in their shoes, from a customer service
      standpoint. This can often be one of your best means of getting a referral from
      this customer, a positive review, return business, or just a happy customer.
      Which is what we all strive for allowable within our set business standards.

  • Archie D’Souza

    I hear so much about the so-called likability factor. I was hoping this industry would refrain from writing on it. I abhor “likable” people