Inside Self-Storage

JAN 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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As self-storage operators, we expend a great deal of effort and capital seeking new ways to attract customers. From social media to Google ads to referrals, we stretch our marketing budget as far as it can go. But ask yourself: What are you really offering as enticement to store with you? Though your ads may boast that you're the "best facility in town" and your referral program may save a friend or family member one month's rent, often your customers are still thinking, "What's in it for me?" This is where your unique selling points (USPs) come in—the things your facility offers above and beyond the standard fare and benefits. Following are five things you can offer to optimize your tenant experience. Comprehensible Contract Terms While your self-storage operation must have a formal rental contract to ensure the business is protected from liability, your customers want something they can understand without needing to consult a lawyer. Identify the most important elements of your agreement and expand upon them in a colloquial way that's easy to reference and digest, such as a bulleted list. You might include things that explain your rights as facility operator, for example: • Your right to access to the unit to make necessary repairs following a reasonable request and notiŠ cation period • Your right to place a lien against property in the unit if the customer fails meet the terms of the contract • The amount of time you'll wait to act if the renter defaults on his rental obligations By providing this information in layman's terms, you avoid the potential for disgruntled renters to feel they've been ill-treated. It also communicates that you have nothing to hide. By Stephen Schwartz Rental Trucks Offering discounted or free use of a moving truck upon move-in is one of the easiest ways to save renters money at little expense to you. Where they see a great amenity and more dollars staying in their bank account, you'll see a surge in new business. If you're willing to spend money to make money, invest in your own trucks so you can brand them and essentially create a mobile billboard for your business. If you don't want the added cost and responsibility of owning and operating trucks, partner with a local company to become a dealer for its vehicles. For self-storage customers, it all comes down to what's most cost-effective and convenient. Online Billpay Do you mail in a check to pay your credit card bill or pay it online? These days, most people pay their bills online or via a mobile app. Why wouldn't your renters want the same convenience? A recent study found that 56 percent of all bills are paid online; and that number is only growing, with Millennials and Gen-Xers using this convenience most. By offering online billpay, you're not just giving renters another payment option, you're illustrating that your facility stays up-to-date with trends. Being unwilling to grow and improve won't appeal to today's consumer. Advanced Security Renters are trusting your facility with their personal belongings. Whatever the items are, your renters feel strongly enough about them to pay for their safekeeping. That's why a unit lock alone isn't sufficient security. Renters want security that reassures them their possessions are safe. Your facility should include features such as regularly monitored, 24/7 video surveillance, secondary unit locks that only staff can access, unique passcode-protected gates and doors, and a fenced perimeter. Not only will these preventive measures show your dedication to security, they'll keep your property safe. Online FAQs While there are still some people who prefer the personal touch of interacting with a live customer-service agent, those days are largely coming to an end. The age of self-service is in full swing. In fact, a recent consumer survey found that 91 percent of participants prefer to use an online knowledge database, like a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page, to find answers to their questions about a business. This is especially useful when potential self-storage renters are in research mode to find the facility with the best terms, prices and amenities. They may not be ready to engage with an employee just yet. While great customer service and a knowledgeable staff will never go out of style, a FAQ section on the facility website can mean the difference between a tenant choosing you or the other guy. Deliver Value Self-storage is a booming industry and the market is only going to become more competitive. While advertising and marketing are great ways to promote your brand and drive traffic to your site, it's what prospects find when they get there that matters most. Today's renters are looking for transparency and extra amenities that surpass the market standard. By understanding and delivering the key benefits they seek, you'll be one step closer to winning the USP game and landing another new customer. Stephen Schwartz is the co-founder of Secure Self Storage, a firm that specializes in the development and acquisition of industrial properties. It operates two self-storage facilities in Ontario, Canada. For more information, visit USPs to Optimize the Tenant Experience 5 OPERATOR INSIGHTS 42 ISS I January 2019

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