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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G etting the phone to ring at your self-storage facility is only half the battle. Knowing how to successfully sell your services once you have the customer on the line is the other half—the most important one. With an increase in walk-in and online activity, many facility operators are finding their volume of phone calls is decreasing. You must make the most of each one of these valuable calls! The following simple guidelines will help you improve your phone sales. General Phone-Sales Tips For some self-storage managers, speaking on the phone comes naturally. Others need training on how to make the most of each sales call. Here are some tips to improve your skills, regardless of your current aptitude. Be ready. Remove your gum, or swallow whatever food and drink is in your mouth. Then smile before you answer the phone. Customers can hear it in your voice! Take a split second to get focused on the call you're about to receive; let everything else go. Stop everything else to focus on that call! Those other things will still be there when you're finished. Be an active and attentive listener. Answer the phone warmly and clearly, and do not mumble. Most important, pay attention to the customer. It's easy to just regurgitate facts and information about your facility, but by asking your customer the right questions, you'll get him to tell you about his situation. You'll learn about his needs, so you can determine how to best help him. You might start by asking, "How can I improve your life today?" Take notes. Notes are handy for providing a customized service experience, while you're on the phone as well as during follow-up calls and appointments. Making the customer feel welcomed and presenting yourself as the local, friendly expert on all things storage will make him more comfortable and help build trust in your professional expertise. Always ask for his name and contact information and offer to e-mail him some information after the call. Once you get his name, use it throughout the conversation. Here are some additional phone-sales tips: • Know what you need to know, and which questions to ask. Don't just give out prices! • Guide and control the conversation. Customers want an expert, not an order- taker. Be the one in charge. • Discuss all your facility's features and discuss benef ts, even if a customer doesn't appear to have an immediate need for some of them. You never know when he may refer a co-worker, friend or family member. • Ask for the business. Don't allow the customer to hang up without asking for the sale and getting a means to follow up. Ask, "What will it take for you to become my customer today?" You might try, "If I could ______, would you rent with me today?" (Offer you a special, offer you a free lock, waive the admin fee, etc.) • Don't forget about add-on sales such as locks, boxes, tenant insurance, etc. This is critical to improve income. • Understand that until you've developed comfort and trust with customers, you can't sell them. Five Magic Questions There are five questions that'll help you determine how to sell your various offerings to your self-storage customer. Never start quoting prices and offering discounts as your first line of response. Instead, follow a single-sheet script with each caller. Take extensive notes from his responses and use them to outline your property's benefits in a way that relates to each comment. Here are the questions to ask: 1. Have you ever rented sel f-s torage before? In some markets, as much as 50 percent of the population hasn't rented a storage unit and doesn't know all the ins and outs. Most prospects will focus on price when they don't know what else is important to ask. By asking if they've rented storage before, you'll know how much information to provide. 2. What will you be storing? You need to make sure the use is qualified. That means no old tires or batteries, fish or other livestock, or food. If the unit will be used for commercial purposes such as storing inventory or business records, you'll handle the prospect differently than you would a residential customer. Similarly, if the person plans to store a boat, RV or other vehicle, there'll be additional information to collect. 3. When do you need to move in? This will help you create urgency no matter if the customer says, "this week" or "a month from now." It'll also help you advise the customer on how your facility is the solution to his problem. For example, let's say a customer needs to move his entire household. You might respond with something like, "Since your movers won't be coming until the first of the month, you have a unique opportunity to make this the easiest move of your lifetime! Just bring a few treasured items to your storage unit each weekend, things you don't want the movers dealing with like your antique China. By the time they arrive on moving day, all your most treasured possessions will be out of the way, and the movers can pack and move more quickly. Tips and tricks to help you close the deal By M. Anne Ballard MASTER inventory or business records, you'll handle the prospect differently than you would a residential customer. Similarly, if the person plans to store a boat, RV or other vehicle, collect. PHONE-SALES BEING A R 54 ISS I April 2019

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