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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T here's been a lot of talk about how the self-storage industry should handle multiple generations of customers. We all know Millennials are the up-and-coming decision-makers and they prefer to do business on their mobile devices. However, we can't solely focus on one market segment. We need to interact with customers of all ages on their terms. I recently examined the demographics of a random storage facility to get a sample of its client base. Out of 432 customers, there were 178 Baby Boomers, 132 Generation Xers, 112 Millennials and 10 from Generation Z. Try this exercise using your own data and see how your customer base is segmented. You might be surprised! Do you think all these people have the same expectations of your self-storage business? Obviously not. So, let's look at how we can assist customers based on their preferences. Instead of adhering to the Golden Rule, which is to treat others how you wish to be treated, try focusing on the Platinum Rule, which is to treat customers the way they prefer, not the way you prefer. Older Generations The older generations still treasure face-to-face interaction. They put a lot of trust and value into personal relationships. A good rapport can provide a sense of comfort, especially when we remember that most people in need of storage are enduring a stressful event. Offering a friendly face and sympathetic ear can mean the difference between getting the rental or not. Older customers usually require more phone time to entice them into the store, and then you'll spend more time walking them through the rental process. This is the "old school" style. How do we cater to older generations after they become tenants? Don't be hesitant to receive checks, because many in this age bracket still use this payment method. In addition, many enjoy coming into the office to pay their bill, grab a piece of candy or bottle of water, check on their unit, etc. Sometimes it's just about getting out of the house and interacting with other people. Having dedicated employees who remember little tidbits about these tenants or their family goes a long way. Think about one more fact that sometimes eludes us: Our best source of advertising is positive word-of-mouth. If you treat this generation right, you'll receive referrals. Younger Generations Now, let's look at Millennials and Gen Z, two of the more unique segments of our market. These customers do everything online. For example, they'll order their food from the grocery store and have it delivered or use the pick-up lane. For this reason, we need self-storage websites that allow them to interact with us on their terms, from reserving a unit to paying their bill. Our job is to facilitate the rental process for younger customers using digital resources. How many times THE GREATEST GENERATION THE SILENT GENERATION MILLENNIALS (GENERATION Y) BABY BOOMERS GENERATION Z GENERATION X Before 1928 2.57 Million 1928 - 1945 25.68 Million 1946 - 1964 73.47 Million 1965 - 1980 65.71 Million 1981 - 1996 71.86 Million 1997 - 2014 86.43 Million Source: Statista, "Resident Population in the United States in 2017, by Generation (in Millions)" Serving your 'old school' and 'new school' customers By Jim Mooney Jr. A Multi-GenerAtionAl ApproAch 56 ISS I April 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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