Today’s storage market is a highly competitive environment and getting tenants into your facility can be challenging. When large operators enter your market, competing with them may seem impossible. In order to compete, you will need a large marketing budget to be successful. Storage is not an impulse buy, or a product you can necessarily create demand for, so you want your facility to be the first one they think of when the need does arise. There are five low-cost/free avenues that you can do to reach potential tenants when they need storage.
1. Build Great Relationships Within Your Community
The image of your facility is important within your local town. Why? Because that is where your customers live! Most tenants will store within 10-miles of their home. If you are not participating in the community, your tenants may not even know you exist. Data shows that when searching online, over 80% of searchers do not have a self storage brand in mind when starting their search, but only 67% of those would only store with a brand that they recognize before. This indicates building your brand within the community is imperative.
How can brand awareness be built in the community for a storage brand? Start by building relationships with complimentary businesses. Apartment complexes, moving companies, banks, pizza shops, hair salons, daycare facilities and other businesses are great places to start. Stop by their businesses to introduce yourself and your storage facility as a resource for them. Ask to leave marketing materials of your facility at their business and ask for materials of their business to share with your tenants. The best relationships are built when it is mutually beneficial. Make sure you are referring to those businesses when applicable, and those businesses are more likely to refer their customers to your storage facility. Continue those relationships online by engaging with them on social media and listing them as community friends on your website.
Other ways to build brand awareness and relationships within your community:
- Join your Chamber of Commerce and attend events
- Join other organizations and actively participate
- Sponsor Little League teams or other organizations (this could even be a trade for a unit for sponsorship)
- Attend community days, parades or other events
- Allow organizations to host events at your facility
- Donate units to organizations or those in need as applicable
- Host drives for food banks and charities at your location
2. Update Your Business Listings
The internet has become the biggest pool of tenants searching for a storage facility. How do you ensure that your storage facility comes up on the first page in search results? There are many factors that go into ranking, but the best way to ensure your business turns up in search results is to update your business listings. The most important factor is that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is consistent across all places that your business is listed online.
Not sure where to start on business listings? Ensure that your Google My Business listing is verified and claimed. This well help Google identify your storage facility on the map and in the search results. Make sure you fill out as much information as possible into this profile.
After claiming your Google listing, make sure you claim listings such Bing, Apple Maps, and Yelp. Again, ensuring accuracy on these listings will help with boosting your ranking in search results.
There are many additional listings that you can claim for your storage facility. You can utilize a service such as Brightlocal, Yext or Reputaiton.com to claim these listings for you. Utilizing services like these can ensure that you are claiming each one with the same accuracy.
The more places your storage facility is listed legitimately across the web, the more it verifies it is a real business. This will boost your ranking in search results and gain access to more potential tenants seeing your facility.
3. Ask Customers to Refer Friends
Your customers are one of your greatest assets in attracting more tenants. When you are providing good customer service, your tenants are more likely to tell their friends and family about you. Do you incentivize your customers to refer someone? Taking a few dollars off their rent can ensure that when their friends or family need storage, they tell them about your facility.
Make sure your tenants are aware of this program. Include it in tenant correspondence, including receipts, posters around the facility, coupons handed to them when they are in the office, and on social media/online marketing. Your current tenants can be your easiest marketing tool. Giving them an incentive to tell their family or friends about you will help you gain new tenants.
4. Reputation Management
In the last few years, marketing has changed. We used to be able to control all messaging about a brand or product, but that has shifted drastically. Now, consumers have control over the message of your brand. Purchasing behavior has all also changed in that tenants are reading the reviews left online, before even contacting your facility. Six out of 10 consumers look to Google for reviews before making a purchasing decision. Just like in the referral program, happy customers are your biggest asset. Great reviews will generate more tenants.
The first step is to ask for the review. During every interaction with a customer, a request should be made to leave a review for the facility online. Adding links to Google, Facebook and Yelp to your welcome and move-out emails with a request for a review is important. Sending out text messages with review links is also an easy way to gather reviews, too. The reviews generated should be real and authentic. Google will penalize a facility if the reviews are found to be fake (and Google knows when they are fake).
After a tenant leaves a review, be sure to create a response. A good practice is to respond to all negative reviews and at least 30% of the positive ones. Not only is this good customer service, it shows future tenants that you care by answering the reviews. Never ask a person to take down their negative review, but instead focus on changing their experience into a positive one. If it is an experience like an auction or late bill, just state the facts of the experience in a positive manner. You can also use the reviews as a training tool to improve your staff or processes.
Similar to the customer referral program, having happy staff means better customer satisfaction. Training staff to ask for the review along with providing great customer service will generate more positive reviews. Answering reviews and having positive reviews will generate more tenants. An online review has caused 94% of consumers to avoid a business and consumers do not trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings. Reputation management can be managed on your own, or if you have multiple stores, there are platforms that automate and consolidate the process for you—reputation.com, trustpilot.com.
5. Get Engaged on Social Media
Real brands engage on social media, right? That is how Google looks at social media. Social media is a great way to increase your online presence and a different avenue to attract tenants. It is another avenue for customers to reach you.
To get started with social media, focus on one or two platforms. To be the most effective, Facebook and Instagram are the two I recommend. Do not just broadcast on social media, make sure you are engaging. Share posts from the community and other businesses in the area, ask questions, run Facebook approved contests, and more! The goal should be to present your facility as a community member that is storage first. Do not share content that is totally unrelated—keep it to storage, community, organization, and those type of topics. You should also make sure your in-person promotions match what you are offering on social media. Use social media as an extension of your customer service area and website.
With more choices for storage, it is important that customers are able to find your facility. Doing these five actions can ensure that your facility is the first on a customer’s mind when the need for storage arises.