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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Visit us at ISS World Expo, Booth # 608 have you received a lead and tried to call the customer, never reaching the person? Then a lightbulb goes on. You send an e-mail and receive a response almost immediately. This is how younger generations choose to interact. We can either accept this, or the customer will move on to a facility that meets their needs. The other important element to consider when serving these customers is response time. If they send an inquiry and we don't respond quickly, we could lose them. At my company, we track our closing percentage relative to our response to the initial inquiry, which I'm confident will provide some intriguing data. After the rental, we need to use technology for sending invoices, payment reminders, notices, etc. E-mail is no longer the only digital method for this type of interaction. Texting is becoming more prevalent and evolving into a popular form of business-to-consumer communication. We're becoming accustomed to receiving text notifications from our doctor's office, auto-repair shop and utility company. A forward-thinking colleague of mine, Dave Demchuk, managing partner of operations for Real Storage Private Trust in Canada, has taken steps to interact with younger customers. One of his locations added an "express lane" in the office. This includes a roped off counter with a tablet. When customers walk in the door, they immediately see they have options for their interaction. It's pretty genius. Yes, implementing technology in your operation can add upfront and monthly costs, but in your analysis, you must factor in the savings it can provide and the revenue it generates. Think about management tasks than can be sped up or eliminated completely. Changing Times I personally prefer the older-generation style of service. However, my wife would rather text someone than call. It drives me crazy how she would rather send 15 messages back and forth when a one-minute phone call would solve the issue; but we're wired differently. Here, again, I refer to the Platinum Rule. Think about the differences. And old-school customer favors face-to-face interaction, prefers a paper lease, mails check payments and loves talking on the phone. A new-school customer has a major online presence, prefers to e-sign documents, loves online reservations and payments, and prefers texting to talking. Are you operating both ways? Can you afford not to? As an industry, we need to take advantage of the technology we have at our disposal, not only for when customers are looking for storage but after they've become tenants. Yet, we still need to interact with some of them personally. We need to find a balance between old-school and new-school sales and service. Do so, and you'll be sure to meet the needs of all your customers, no matter their age. Jim Mooney Jr. is vice president of operations for Freedom Storage Management. He leverages his 20 years of storage experience to improve the performance of the company's portfolio of Pennsylvania properties. He was formerly a vice president for Devon Self Storage, where he held various positions. He serves on the Pennsylvania Self Storage Association Board of Directors. For more information e-mail jmooney@freedomstoragemanagement.com. April 2019 I ISS 57

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