This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Mini Storage Messenger Magazine.

HOW COULD CONVENIENCE BE SO IMPORTANT?

Think about how you currently market your storage facility. When you talk about your convenient features, you probably refer to services like drive-up access and onsite packing supplies.

But if you expand your perspective, convenience can and should include more than your amenities. When you help your leads make their storage decisions efficiently, you’re simplifying their research process and ultimately their choice to rent with you.

Your customer wants to find all the information he can, and he wants to find it right now. Your ability to meet this need measures your facility’s level of convenience.

YOU’LL DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF

When prospective self storage renters call local facilities, often what they’ll find is a strong lack of convenience. Either their call will go to voicemail or the manager won’t know the answer to a pressing question.

Convenience isn’t forgettable. If you can save your lead time and energy at every available opportunity, he won’t even be thinking about the competition – he’ll just be thinking about you.

YOU’LL HELP YOUR CUSTOMER DECIDE NOW

While you certainly care about differentiating your brand from the rest, your ultimate goal is to successfully convert your lead to a customer.

Unless he’s still unsure as to whether or not he even needs storage, there’s little reason that a prospect would need to think about his decision to rent with you. But how often do you get that answer? And does the lead ever call back?

If you can perfect the art of convenience, you’ll stop getting this excuse from your potential customers. You’ll give him no reason not to say “yes” to your service. Right now.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO INCREASE CONVENIENCE?

MAKE EVERYTHING DIGITAL

Many of your customers make their decisions based on what they see online. Your leads come to your website, take a few minutes to look around, and then either contact you or move on to your competitor.

The most important thing you can do is answer their questions, solve their problems, and show them – quickly – that you’re their best option. If they can’t get a feel for what your facility is like or understand what to expect with their unit, they’ll move on. Plain and simple.

Look for opportunities to save your lead from having to call or stop by the facility. Here are some ideas for accommodating him through digital means:

  • Auto and online payment options. One of these options may be more appropriate for your facility than the other. The important thing is to make the payment process as easy as possible for your customers.

  • Online calculators. Many customers who consider storage are new to the concept, so it’s your job to step in and provide them the resources they need to make the best decision. With an online storage calculator, your lead can spend a few minutes finding the right unit size rather than go through a high-pressure phone call with your manager.

  • Downloadable vCards. With a vCard, you’ll input all relevant information about your facility (office hours, address, phone number, etc.) in one place. Now try putting that vCard on your website or asking a lead if you can send it to him. Once he has your facility’s information saved to his phone, he won’t have to look you up again – plus he’ll be more inclined to share your contact information with his buddy who’s looking for storage.

  • Emailed leases. If your new customer isn’t looking to visit his storage unit, he probably isn’t interested in changing up his schedule to visit your office. Can your management software send lease agreements through email? Can you ask new tenants to sign their contracts electronically? Look for opportunities to bring the process to them.

  • Text reminders and vCals. So long as you approach these tools tastefully, your tenants will appreciate your quick reminders about rent and upcoming events. This resource is a bonus for you because it may help renters pay their bills on time (saving your manager time when he deals with late payers).

EDUCATE YOUR LEADS & CUSTOMERS

When you utilize every technology that you can to engage with your leads and educate them, you accomplish a couple crucial goals. First, they’ll feel more inclined to trust you and your abilities. Second, they’ll start to draw a strong connection between your facility and their need for self storage.

There are plenty of ways you can share your expertise in a useful manner. Here are a few:

  • Descriptive website content. By taking the simple step to elaborate to your leads what you’re all about, you eliminate the need for them to conduct extra research. You’ll use content that’s descriptive, a bit promotional, and pure gold for Google’s bots. But it’s important to look beyond content. Are your hours quickly visible on the home page? Can a customer know within 30 seconds what features you provide? Your goal is to give the lead all the information he needs with as few clicks as possible.

  • FAQ, tips, and/or blog posts. You may not feel like a self storage expert, but when you compare your level of knowledge to that of your customers, you certainly are. Do you really want to earn the business of your leads? Demonstrate your authority! Write educational pieces, whether it’s a comprehensive FAQ page on your website or regular blog posts every month, and seek to solve your renter’s problems.

  • Videos. What’s better than reading paragraphs of content? Watching a short video instead. Internet users are becoming increasingly focused on visuals. So if writing isn’t for you, you’re in luck! Read a few articles about creating a professional-looking video, and then get to recording. Your videos can range from welcome messages to specific tips to brief rundowns about your facility.

  • Testimonials and reviews. Even with the most researched and helpful tips, your leads are going to feel more educated about your facility through others’ reviews than anything else. So if you don’t have a section for reviews or your testimonials are pretty sparse, urge your current customers to leave some public feedback. Your leads will eat it up.

BOOST YOUR RESOURCES

Technology doesn’t just make self storage simple for your renters – it gives you thousands of free resources to improve your customer service, facility features, and customer satisfaction levels. If you improve your own service, you’ll provide a level of convenience that your leads won’t forget:

  • Call recording software. By listening to past conversations and evaluating where communication breakdowns are occurring, you’re actually making self storage more convenient for your renters. They’d prefer not to call your facility at all. But if you perfect the process and streamline the interaction, phone calls can be a great way to assist your leads.

  • Management software. By using your business management software to track the lifetime of a lead, you’ll have notes from the very first point of contact to the day that customer moves out of your facility. When you remember details about your renter and have his information available as soon as he calls, you’re saving him the time of listening to you get your ducks in a row before being able to assist him.

  • Regular research. How can research make self storage an easier process? First, you can be at the forefront of new developments. For instance, how much do you know about the new storage by the bin model? If you’ve been researching, you can take any necessary steps to highlight why leads should choose conventional storage instead. I’ve encountered many blogs that provide advice on marketing, selling, customer service, and facility maintenance. You may be surprised at what you find after a quick Google search.

  • Competitor knowledge. Customers hate when you say, “I don’t know.” If a lead calls and asks a question concerning your competitor, you have a golden opportunity to let him hear it from you rather than your competition. The other facility offers a “$1 for the first month” special? Well, what administrative fees are associated with that? How do their regular rates compare to yours? Your leads want to know this information, so get the details and share it with them. You’ll save them a phone call and help them see right away that you are, in fact, the best option.

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY DOING WITH THESE EFFORTS?

When you focus your efforts on convenience, you’re building up reason after reason for a lead to choose you. You’re also making it more likely that he’ll buy now. He won’t need to check out the competition because you’ll already know what the competition offers. He won’t need to hunt for your information because you’ve made it available in every way you can.

Through these tips, you establish trust, eliminate hurdles that would cause a lead to “think about it,” and you solidify the fact that your current customers won’t want to leave.

Plus, much of this advice will reduce your costs and boost your SEO efforts. Even if one particular lead doesn’t choose you after all, you’re strengthening your credibility for the next one that comes around.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO?

There always is. Here are my top two pieces of advice to walk away with after you’ve implemented these changes:

  1. Market your convenience. It’s important to be explicit and highlight your features through your marketing campaigns. Don’t just list out the convenient services you provide – say that you’re the only facility to provide those, and explain to the customer just how important these features are for him. You may notice that some of my tips pertain more to current customers than to prospective tenants. Your marketing approach is the place to help your leads understand how being a customer at your facility is such a valuable experience.

  2. Evaluate your convenience. The final step is always evaluation. Try reading your reviews frequently, or better yet, implementing customer surveys. You can administer them at the move-in or move-out process, and these will help you understand if leads really choose you for all the reasons you think they do. It’ll also help you hear about what your customers think your facility is missing.

Keep improving, keep researching, and keep trying out new services. Above all, keep listening to customers – both current and potential ones. Seek out ways to make their lives better, and in time you’ll find more leads eagerly saying “yes” to your services.