Inside Self-Storage

APR 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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SQUASHING CUSTOMER OBJECTIONS Conquering tenant protests with confidence and excellence By Stephanie Tharpe Never try to price match competitors who are inferior. It's OK to have a higher rental rate when you sell your facility's value. S elf-storage operators are frequently challenged by customer objections during the initial sales process and throughout the rental stay. There are several ways you can overcome these protests. You simply need knowledge and confidence in yourself and your product! Make It Personal Your first meeting with a prospect can frame the sales process and your future relationship with the customer. When someone walks into your facility to rent a unit, treat him as if he's already one of your tenants. Give him 100 percent of your attention and be genuine. Think about your own experience as a consumer and what makes you happy when shopping for products and services. Ask for his name and use it during the conversation. This makes the visit much more personal and creates a rapport. Listen, and ask questions. Find out if he's used self-storage before and how he felt about the experience. This will tell you right away what he expects from you. It'll also help you direct the conversation to what's important. His concerns may include security, flooding, pests, break-ins and facility access, to name a few. Whatever's important to your prospect, address it first and put him at ease. Know the Competition You can't overcome sales objections if you don't know what you're up against in your market. To effectively handle pricing objections, you must know what competitors are offering and charging. I've visited many facilities over the years, and it's fun! Get out and visit! You don't have to be sneaky about it. I walk right in with goodies in hand, introduce myself and let the facility manager take over. Most managers are proud of their office and the job they're doing and will talk about it. Make note of the benefits you offer and they don't as well as things they're doing that you may want to implement. Focus on Value Never try to price match competitors who are inferior. It's OK to have a higher rental rate when you sell your facility's value. To avoid price objections, you must not only tell the customer about your property features, you need to explain their benefits. Remember, you're the expert. Here are some examples: • We offer temperature-controlled units, which helps protect your valuables against extreme temperatures. • We have wide drive aisles that allow you to turn around easily in a large vehicle. • We have controlled gate access, and each tenant is assigned a private gate code. We know who's on the property and when. • Our high ceilings allow you to stack items and f t more into your space. • We offer a month-to-month contract that allows you to control how long you stay. There's no long-term commitment. Discount Carefully What if there's still an objection about price? There are several things you can do to close the sale. Start by asking how long the customer plans to stay. If he says three months, offer a special price for only that period. We all know customers stay longer than they plan, but offering a three-month discount gets him to sign the lease. Afterward, the rent moves to the standard price. Just make sure you communicate this clearly. You can also use incentives such as free locks, gift cards, lottery tickets or a tank of gas. We've had great success with "happy hour" rental rates on slow days of the week. Perhaps you offer a free lock or waive the administration fee every Tuesday between 2 p.m. and closing. Just remember it's OK to let the customer walk out. One thing I've learned over the years is if price is the only thing that matters to a person, sometimes you have to let him walk right over to your competitor. A seasoned manager will almost always recognize someone who'll bring delinquency and difficulties. Yes, we want the business, but we also want customers who pay their rent on time and don't cause problems. 48 ISS I April 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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