Outselling Your Competition

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Do you feel like there’s a self storage property on every corner?  Or, you have had several large publicly traded storage operators just come in to your market?  If you are asking the obvious question, “How much more storage can be absorbed in my market area?”, you are not alone. 

The key to your business’ success doesn’t depend on you finding an area with no self storage properties.  There are several different ways in which you can have a very profitable storage business in a competitive market area.

  1. Carve your own niche!  Identify any service the market may need.  That could be by offering RV parking spaces for rent (e.g., covered parking, indoor parking, car detailing, dump station, etc.).  Or, try ancillary services such as accepting packages, offering a business center, mailboxes, shipping center (e.g., FedEx or UPS), or retail/office spaces on the front of the property.   Your storage product may be similar to your competitors, but the defining factors are the things you provide or do that set your product apart from your competitors.
  2. Accentuate the Positive!  Find employees that are friendly, outgoing and not afraid to sell.  Many businesses discount their product because they employee people who don’t like people, which is sad but true!  Many storage companies don’t train their employees to sell what sets their business apart from their competitors.  Even if you don’t have all of the amenities of your competition, sell what sets you apart.  Reposition your selling strategy from competing on price to selling the storage solution.  When a storage property has more services and conveniences, sell the customer on those amenities/solutions (e.g., 24-hour access, high security, etc.).  Otherwise, poor performing employees are doing the business a huge disservice that will affect the company’s bottom line.   Typically, you will see under-trained employees discounting to overcome their sales skills deficit. 
  3. Create a customer-centered culture. Don’t be afraid to admit to a customer that you made a mistake! Customer-centered policies and procedures should be consistent with the operational policies and practices of your organization to both satisfy the customers’ priorities and engage employees to excel. Many storage operators have policies and procedures that are not customer friendly.  One of my pet peeves is the fact that some storage companies won’t allow any merchandise to be returned or exchanged. And, many operators have a no refund policy, but it is no posted for the customer to see.  This is a great example of a policy driven, non-customer-centered culture.

    The good news is that it is easier than ever before to connect with your customers.  However, your company’s culture and mission should be to please customers while storing their goods.  This culture can only exist if it starts from the person in charge. This means you must stay close to your customers to garner what they want and need.  Get their feedback every chance you have and respectfully respond to both the good and the bad feedback.  Your company should constantly be looking for opportunities to get feedback to improve and implement changes that will assist you in out-preforming and outselling your competition.

Carol Mixon-Krendl
Owner, SkilCheck, Inc.

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