You might resolve to lose 15 pounds or to reduce your debt by $10,000 in 2015. But what New Year’s resolutions will you make for your self-storage business?
The Storage Facilitator asked three self-storage experts to suggest New Year’s resolutions for self-storage operators and managers. Here are eight resolutions that they came up with.
1. Get organized.
“January and February are typically the slowest months of the year for storage operators,” self-storage consultant and owner Marc Goodin said. “They can use that time to get organized, put new systems in place and create a written manual detailing systems used to run their business.”
2. Beef up customer service.
Goodin recommended that storage operators make a list of ways to improve customer service in 2015.
One item: Be more helpful to customers. For instance, Goodin said, you should make it as easy as possible for tenants to move into their units by offering locks and related products.
To check out tips for improving customer service at your facility, visit http://bit.ly/storage-customer-service.
3. Spruce up your facility.
Making your facility more attractive to consumers can help you make more money, according to Goodin.
“Keep your facilities clean. Clean facilities can be rented for higher rates,” Goodin said. “Also, establish a budget for landscaping. It’s the best marketing you can do. You can spend $1,000 on landscaping and make that money back quickly in increased sales.”
To read our guide to boosting the curb appeal of your facility, visit http://bit.ly/sparefoot-whitepaper.
4. Update your technology.
A manager may spend several hours a month researching competitors’ rates through old-school methods, such as calling other facilities. But if you invest in any number of software programs on the market, that task can be done in just a few minutes.
Another tech upgrade you should consider: Tweaking or overhauling your facility’s website.
“If it’s an old website, replace it,” Goodin said. “Otherwise, update it. Consumers always check storage facilities out online.”
Customers visiting your website should be able to research your storage offerings, rent a unit and make payments with just a few clicks of a mouse.
For tips on improving your website, read http://bit.ly/website-improvement-tips.
5. Create a sense of family.
Particularly if you operate more than one facility, it can be hard for your managers to feel connected and feel like they’re truly part of your company, according to Natolie Ochie, vice president of Oakland, CA-based storage operator SKS Management.
Ochie has launched a program that she calls “water cooler conference calls,” allowing managers from her company’s facilities to talk with each another regularly. They chat about business and even catch up on what’s going on in their personal lives, she said.
SKS Management also has set up internal Google groups that foster discussions among employees.
“This helps to create a large group of support,” Ochie said. “We’re promoting happiness in the workplace and a family feel. Things like that will equate into better revenue.”
Yes, that’s right. Listen to your customers.
Tron Jordheim, chief marketing officer at Columbia, MO-based operator StorageMart, said: “Our customers are often there because something negative has happened in their lives, and sometimes when they come in or call, they want to tell you their story. Cut them some slack. Be patient and build a good relationship.”
7. Answer the phone.
This sounds like simple advice, but it’s a fact that a lot of facilities let customers’ calls go unanswered. Jordheim emphasized that every phone call to every facility should be answered by a person and not be allowed to go to voicemail.
“You probably don’t want your manager answering phones at the front desk, but you should find a way to make sure all of your calls are answered,” he said.
To learn lessons from self-storage call centers, visit http://bit.ly/lessons-from-call-centers.
8. Train your staff.
“The more training they get in sales and customer service, the better,” Jordheim said. “You’re lucky if you get 30 to 40 inquiries a month. If you need 30 new customers a month, you can’t afford to miss out on a sale.”