by Mark Lusky
While keeping good tenants can be challenging depending on economic conditions and other factors affecting the self-storage industry, keeping them from becoming tenants at all is quite easy. Here are 5 ways to slam the door on prospects:
1. Be mobile-challenged. With smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices overtaking desktop for total Internet traffic, you're automatically excising a major portion of the marketplace if you're not mobile-friendly. Keeping in mind the smaller footprint of mobile phone screens, make sure you design a website that's responsive-meaning it will adapt to any size screen. Make sure that basic information and signup can be readily accessed their mobile devices. And don't forget to link users to online reviews in case they want to do a cursory review.
2. Treat them like second-class citizens. Whether on the phone or in-person, rudeness, incompetence and lack of caring will drive prospects to your competition faster than just about anything. We're all under the gun, stressed out, overwhelmed, over-tasked and starved for positive customer service experiences. The difference between first and second class treatment could make a big bottom line impact.
3. Look like a dump. If the facility is aesthetically challenged, many people will shy away or at least shop the competition first. You may think that people only care about functionality. But, with all the sprucing-up efforts in self-storage, the consumer mindset is evolving right along with the industry. Tenants expect more and they will gravitate to facilities that give it to them.
4. Get panned online. It's not just the younger prospects who scour the Internet for facility reviews. It's becoming the standard for surfers across the board. Consumers are getting ever-more-accustomed to checking out product and service ratings before they buy-kind of a "Consumer Reports" that stretches across the cyberworld. If your facility grades out poorly and the one across the street gets top-notch ratings, where do you think people will go? In many cases, you won't even know you lost a prospect-just that revenues aren't where you want them. If you see a consistent negative thread online, whether it involves your people or property, correct the problem(s). Then, tell the world that you listened and corrected them.
5. Be a bad neighbor. For many facilities, the surrounding neighborhoods can be a major source of business. If your facility has a bad rep in those neighborhoods, you could be losing a bunch of low-hanging fruit. Upon becoming aware of image problems with your neighbors, correct them as quickly as possible-and inform folks of the changes (just as in the cyber example above). If it's something you can't correct quickly because of lack of resources, go proactive with a written apology sent to surrounding neighborhoods-acknowledging the problem(s), and your plans to make it right.