On October 18 Ann Parham hosted a roundtable discussion at the 2017 Annual Conference Reinvented hosted by the Texas Self Storage Association. This peer-to-peer discussion was titled, “It’s the Little Things That Make the Difference.” Ann shared her top tips for adding a personal touch that your customers will appreciate and that will keep them coming back for more.
Tip #1 Stand up and greet them with a smile when they come in the door.
“I always tell people the first thing you do when someone walks in the door is stand up and greet them. Standing up is a sign of respect. You don’t sit behind your desk and say, ‘Hi, how are you doing.’ You stand up and you greet them with a smile.”
Tip #2 Help them out with their boxes.
“How many times have you had people come in and they’ve gotten 10 or 15 boxes and they’re struggling to get them out? Believe it or not, those are the kinds of things people remember.”
Tip #3 Take water to them out on the property.
“One thing we do in the heat of the summer is we put a water cooler on the back of the golf cart and we drive around offer water to them and ask how they are doing.”
Tips #4 Make notes about what you talked to them about so you can talk about it again the next time you see them.
“One thing I actually learned from my dentist every time I would go see him he we would talk about things, my kids and other stuff and the next time I come back he would say, ‘So how is David doing at school?’ I’m thinking, “Wow he’s got a great memory. I haven’t seen him in a year!’ No, he was making notes on my chart.. People who come to storage are in transition and they are going to want to talk to you about stuff. Make notes so you can remember it the next time you see them because people like when you remember stuff about them.”
Tip #5 Give gift cards to good customers.
“I carry around giftcards ($5 or $10). I see my customers around town and because I’ve been in my community for 20 years so at some point almost everyone has rented from me. So if I’m out and I see someone and we start talking I say, ‘You know what go have a lunch on me.’ The next thing they do is go tell someone, ‘I got this from the place down the street.’”
Tip #6 Send a thank you note or email when they move in.
“My manager sends an email out to our customers when they move in. This way she can confirm that the email address is correct and then they have something in their inbox with our name and contact information if they have any issues. A lot of times people will email you before they call you when they have an issue.”
Tip #7 Have a customer appreciation drawing
“Just once a quarter randomly pick a number and send that person a $25 Amazon gift card and just send a note that says, ‘We appreciate having you as a customer here is an Amazon gift card.’”
Tip #8 Offer a drink and/or cookies and candy.
“Once a week just have some cookies. The smell is welcoming. I have one manager who keeps a refrigerator under her desk with soda and she offers it to customers who come in.”
Tip #9 Have a child’s area to keep the children busy.
“I learned early on, a lot of times you’re dealing with parents with toddlers, and when you have a toy area or a basket of children’s books, kids gravitate to them and Mom or Dad can fill out the lease and not be distracted.”
Tip #10 Throw long-time customers a discount.
“If you have a customer who has been with you for a long time, give them a discount. 25% off for the next month, even 50% off, it isn’t going to hurt you. Just show you appreciate them. Your best marketing tool is word of mouth.”
Tip #11 Give some swag.
“Every time I sell a lock I open the lock, cut it open, test the key and put it on one of my keychains. I also make sure to remind them not to put their unit number on the keychain. It’s one of the most important pieces of swag I have. Other options include bottle openers, nail files, pens, mugs, letter openers, candy, and tape measures. Nail files are very popular. Don’t be cheap on pens, and don’t be cheap on cups. When I go to a restaurant and sign my check, I used my own pen and leave it. It’s free advertising.”
Tip #12 Celebrate major milestones
“I have people who have been with me for 20 years. Come up with some fun thing like a gift card to just celebrate those milestones.”
Tip #13 Use the person’s name when you see them.
“The best thing about a gate system is that it usually will tell you ‘John Smith’ has just entered the property. The next time you see them be sure to use their name. People love hearing their own name.”
Tip #14 Sponsor local events
“If you’re in a small community, be active in your Chamber. One of the best things I’ve done is sponsored a little league team. Make the commitment in your marketing budget.”
Tip #15 Thank them for their business.
“When they leave, thank them for their business. People like to feel like you’re grateful that they chose you.”