Uber should be an inspiration to self storage owners. Okay, so maybe “Uber” and “self storage” aren’t words you see together very often, but they should be. In fact, storage owners could learn a lot from the small startup that revolutionized transit. Just like taking a taxi, renting a storage unit hasn’t changed much for the past 20 years - and with how mega-saturated most markets are, the industry is ripe for a little innovation. You don’t have to be the industry’s next hot startup or become “the Uber of self storage” to learn from the success, customer service, and creativity of Uber. Simply start with an open mind and think about how you can apply the startup’s bold ideas to your storage business below.
Uber makes it incredibly easy for customers to do business with them
Why do people love Disney, Amazon, Uber, Starbucks, and Apple? One thing connects all these brands: they make it super simple for people to give them money. With a couple taps on your phone, your Uber driver appears to pick you up, your new shoes are on their way from the Amazon warehouse, or your Venti Iced Vanilla Double Shot is ready and waiting for you to pickup at your local Starbucks. Disney’s wristbands act like a wearable credit card that let you pay for anything and everything in the park, skip lines, and get on rides faster - it’s literally like waving a magic wand, and it’s so easy that people forget they’re spending real money.
The takeaway for storage owners…
Your facility can copy the “it’s like magic” customer experience. You want to make renting a storage unit so easy for customers that it’d be a waste of their time to even bother looking somewhere else. Your customers are super busy and they love anything that saves them time. They have smartphones and they’re connected online, making it easier than ever before for your facility to automate time-consuming tasks and deliver the convenience they’re craving. Optimize your storage website for mobile devices and make it easy to rent a unit in just a few taps. Let people order moving and packing supplies online and pick it up in your office at their convenience. Or better yet: order moving and packing supplies online that are then delivered to a customer’s home with their moving truck rental. There are so many ways to create the “it’s like magic” experience in self storage and it resonates with your renters in a big way.
Uber puts a big focus on safety
Uber has had to deal with a lot of reputation management lately - they’ve had bad publicity around rider and driver safety in the past, and then there was the whole internal discrimination scandal. With so many people using rideshare apps to get where they need to go, it’s more important than ever for riders and drivers to feel safe. But Uber hasn’t let all of their negative press get in the way of success - they moved forward from the incidents by introducing new, industry-leading safety features (like proactively running driver background checks every year) and a new company commitment to continually improving safety for users. The company commitment may just be a marketing ploy, but seeing their Instagram posts about all of their new safety measures and getting reminders in my app to share my trip details with trusted contacts (so they know I got home safe) certainly helps me feel more secure when riding alone in an Uber.
The takeaway for storage owners…
You simply can’t oversell security - it’s a huge deciding factor for storage tenants, especially those in saturated markets who see storage facility break-ins and theft on the news all the time. Don’t think you can’t market your facility’s security features just because you’ve had security incidents in the past. In fact, it’s even more important to show renters that you are committed to security after a break-in or theft has occurred at one of your locations. Get serious about improving your security technology stack with unit alarms, electronic door locks, updated keypads and cloud-based access control systems, and security cameras that send managers or owners push notifications to their smartphones whenever suspicious activity is detected after hours. Then, don’t forget to market your property’s new security features with promotional content like Youtube videos, social media posts, updates to your website content, interviews with local media outlets, and new sales scripts for managers so you can tout your latest security updates over the phone. Go all out on security - with the automated technology available today, it’s more affordable than ever, and it’ll help you gain the trust of renters looking for storage online.
Uber attacks big-picture problems head on
Ever wondered how the startup’s founders first thought of Uber? The story goes like this: Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was attending a tech conference in Paris with a friend one winter many years ago. After the conference ended for the day, the two were waiting outside in the cold and unable to hail a cab. Being tech-minded entrepreneurs, the two friends were chatting about the problem and thinking “there must be a tech solution for this.” And they were right: when Uber first hit the market, the limo and taxi industry had been the same forever. There really was no better option for consumers. Uber’s founders took a big picture problem and created an easy-to-use, automated solution. The simplicity of the idea was it’s special sauce.
The takeaway for storage owners…
Most of us don’t question an outdated system, but the rewards can be huge for those that do. Regardless of your facility size or business scope, you can attack problems head on to win more rentals and stand out from your competition. Talk to your tenants and managers to find out what your facility can do better and engage with other owners in the industry to brainstorm creative solutions to big-picture problems. Whether your customers want a moving truck they can rent without an appointment or to be able to check the status of their storage unit any time of the day, you can embrace the idea and come up with a forward-thinking solution. There are tons of opportunities today for storage owners to create brand differentiation with the help of technology. What’s stopping your facility from being “the better way” to rent storage space in your city?
By using automated tools and modern technology at your storage facility, you’ll be able to create the “wow, that was easy” Uber-like experience that your tenants crave and drive more rentals in today’s saturated storage market.