The Why Factor is the single most important thing when it comes to a self-storage manager and their facility. Why would someone visit or rent from your facility over anywhere else? That is what you should be trying to capitalize on.
To most consumers, when they think self-storage, they visualize an empty square where people put their belongings in when they do not have or want to use free their options. Self-storage is something that people only think of when they need it. Most managers would state that their tenants, at one point or another, would say they didn't even know the business was there until they searched for it. There is nothing wrong with that. We must, however, be ready when they do search for us. That is when The Why Factor comes into play.
The Why Factor can be divided into two categories the facility and the management team. Each category needs to give a reason why the consumers should choose them. If a facility has a wonderful manager that does everything they can to earn the consumers business but the facility is run down, lacks security and the prices are too high then they probably won't earn much business. The same can be said for a facility that has key features but lacks an effective manager. Let's first start with the manager.
The Manager's Why Factor
One of the most common question asked during a job interview is "Why should we hire you?" At that time a potential candidate will sell themselves to the person giving the interview. They will talk in a professional and friendly way about their experience, skills, talents and vision for the future. This should be the same mindset a self-storage manager should do when they represent the company.
A potential tenant is looking for you to help them with their needs. They are most likely going through a major life-changing event, can you be the one to help them in an effective way? Of course, you can.
The first thing you should show is your compassion for whatever they are going through. While this is a must-have in the customer service industry as a whole, it also builds trust that you are not just trying to collect their money but you are wanting to truly help them find something. Compassion doesn't tell you ignore policies. It instead is you feeling empathy, understanding and communicate effectively.
The second thing is your knowledge of the self-storage industry. You owe it yourself, your company and the tenant to know everything you can about the industry. Too many managers will stick to basics or will be thrown "in the fire" and expected to know everything without formal training. This is where you determine how important this career is to you. If your company is not helping you, what are you doing about it? Are you sitting behind the desk watching reruns on your favorite streaming service or are you looking for information? Yes, it is easy to take the easy way out and yes you will collect a paycheck but how does that help you in your personal or professional development? There will come a time in which you have an opportunity to shine through promotion. Will you have the knowledge to take that position or have you set a glass ceiling for yourself?
The third element is how proactive you are. To an untrained manager, the self-storage industry can be boring. They see it as a position that really doesn't have a purpose besides collecting money. To others, it will seem as the though there is not enough time in the day. Think about it: if you have a self-storage facility that has 500 units, your job is to ensure 500 people are happy. On top of that, you are ensuring that everyone that walks in or calls is taken care of to the best of your ability. That happiness includes: ensuring the property is clean, the features are actually working and that their belongings are secure to the best of your ability. You are also protecting the company to ensure they are following policies and that they are held accountable to pay their dues. There are many behind the scenes things you can be doing such as file checks, marketing, report analysis, auction certification and so on. As a manager, how are you informing customers about the facility's Why Factor? You know owners have spent a lot of money to ensure they stand out from the crowd. It is time you do your part.
The final Why Factor that a manager should have is a sense of thinking outside the box. There is no way, no matter how great a training program is, to train a manager on everything that they will face as a self-storage manager. Instead, a self-storage manager needs to know how to react in unique situations. They shouldn't be afraid to make decisions but they understand that if they need guidance they shouldn't be afraid to seek it. Not many decisions in self-storage need to be immediate. A manager needs to know that they were hired for a reason and they need to prove they were the right choice. How you handle yourself as an employee when the bosses are not around is truly who you are as a person and employee.
The Facility's Why Factor
Now that the manager's Why Factor has been talked about, let's talk about the Facility's Why Factor. There are many features that a self-storage has that should be highlighted in all your marketing material including all sales activities (over the phone and in person). Most of features include: gate hours, location, unit alarms, individual gate codes, inside and outside units, climate control and so on. Let your customers know what the facility has. They may not know basic but important things.
One prime example is a facility I was working for in Fresno, CA. I was talking to a tenant about how we were doing unit alarm checks. I remember her exact response. She said "I have been here for eight years and I never knew we had alarms." These alarms were installed when the facility was first built in 2002! That immediately told me that past and current managers were not telling customers about key features. While other factors helped the tenant move in, I started to think about how many customers didn't move in because they didn't sell the company.
Without beating a dead horse, really think about why a customer should rent of you and really use that as a way to draw people in. In marketing they have what is called Integrated Marketing. Integrated Marketing can be defined as sharing the same message through different platforms of marketing to share a common message. Too many times we try to do much at once with different messages. We need to share the same message. As a personal example, I am going to make fun of myself (please do not judge too much). We all heard of Pokemon Go and how popular it was. When it first came out, I was so annoyed with it. It was all over the place. Overtime, however, I became so annoyed that I gave it a shot. I was then part of the crowd walking around like a zombie trying to capture invisible creatures.
Yes, it died off the but the concept is there. If we share the same positive message over and over again, people will recognize your storage facility over others. Instead of picking and choosing different programs and topics, stick to the same ones and build upon it.
If someone where you ask you right now what your why factor was, what would you say? Whatever you answer is, keep on enhancing it and making it better!