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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Page 63 of 93

You have to remember, 99 percent of the time, [customers] are storing with you because they are facing a rough situation. Try to think if the tables were turned and you were in their shoes. Have respect for customers and they will have respect for you." _ Lori Smith, Manager, First USA Storage, Shelby, N.C. there's a hard, immovable deadline to pay the balance and redeem the account. Your hands are tied here because each state has specific lien laws that dictate what can and can't be done. In this case, you have to tell the customer "no." Norma Taylor, one of my company's co-founders, once told me, "'No' is both a complete sentence and a perfectly acceptable answer." With my kids, it's easy to say; but with a customer, it takes a little finesse. First, tell him the facts, as best as you can, regarding why his request can't be fulfilled. Then offer some compromises. Once you've explained the logic behind the situation, most people will understand and accept an alternative over nothing. 5. The Impatient Customer It seems like hours pass in mere minutes in today's fast-paced, on-demand world. It's easy to get caught up in the "I want it now" mentality because almost everything is available in a snap. So, what do you do when something is taking the "normal" amount of time, but it still isn't fast enough for your customer? Or, worse, what if the customer truly is being made to wait longer than usual? The first thing to do is apologize, and then calmly and politely explain the reason for the delay. Clarify what's happening and why, so the customer has realistic expectations. Even if the holdup is all in his perception, it's best to talk it through. Hopefully, he'll understand and be lenient in his assessment of your business. Perhaps he'll even see that his impatience is a little unjustified. 7. The Angry Customer I've faced an irate customer in my office, making wild demands, accusing me and the company of terrible things, and generally making me afraid of what he'll do or say next. It can be a scary situation, one nobody wants to encounter! When a customer is really angry, it can be exceptionally difficult because emotions are running high and causing logic to slip. Sometimes the customer is so upset you can't immediately respond. The key here is to listen. It may sound silly, but when a customer is in the middle of an emotionally fueled ride, sometimes the only way to get back to logic is to allow things to run their course. Let the customer vent and listen to what he says. If you try to interject at this point, anything you say may add fuel to the fire. This is especially true if he's complaining about an ongoing problem. Just let him talk and try not to take it personally. That last bit is hard, but if the customer is upset, it's your job to be the logical one. Channel your inner Spock and try to hold back your emotional reactions. Once the customer has explained his grievances, make sure you understand the situation by repeating them back to him. Say something like, "I want to make sure I understand you fully so I can best If a desired outcome is going to take longer than the customer is able or willing to wait, take his contact information so you can alert him as soon as you have more information. Communication is important so he isn't left waiting. 6. The 'My Way or Nothing' Customer There are some folks who just want it the way they want it and will take nothing less. The old phrase "my way or the highway" comes to mind. When the customer believes he knows exactly what he wants, he may refuse to hear alternatives. This is especially frustrating when you know there are other options that may work better. When someone is set in his ways, getting him to budge is difficult, but achievable. The first step is to hear him out. Let him know you're respectful of his wishes. Politely tell him you can honor his request, or you can share alternatives he might find more enticing. Ask if you can explain these options. If he refuses, then do what you can to provide what he wants. Allow him to decide how to proceed. It's important to provide as much information as you can, but, ultimately, it's the customer's choice. If he chooses one of your alternatives, hooray! But if he sticks by his original demands—especially if they're unreasonable or unachievable—the next scenario may apply. 60 ISS I April 2019

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