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January 10, 2023
Owning your first self storage business might be the end of a long road or the first step on the path to financial independence.
It could well be the biggest purchase you’ve ever made and is certainly one of the most stressful.
But now that you own a self storage facility…where do you start?
In this blog, we’ll go over the initial steps you should take to market your facility and get leasing up fast!
The majority of self storage marketing takes place online. While it is vital to have a real-world presence as well - sponsoring local sports teams, putting up billboards, and cross-promoting with local businesses - if you don’t have a good web presence, you’re falling behind.
Of course, there are a million other things to do with a new self storage facility, but solidifying your web presence is a great place to start.
Step one in establishing a strong web presence is… checking out your web presence. Where does this new business exist online? If you’re purchasing an existent business, this can be tricky, as the former owners may not have been careful with their web footprint.
Priority one for a brand new business or a purchased business is the same: get your Google Business Profile set up.
This is a tricky process if you’re taking over from someone else, requiring several steps to prove that you’re the new and true owner of the business.
Google’s request ownership page is here.
Once you’ve gotten your GBP moving, start on other places your business can be found. And, if you don’t find your business, make a profile!
Check your Yelp listing, make a Facebook page, get a Bing listing, get an Apple Maps listing. The more places you can list your business, the more chances a customer has to find you!
Everywhere you make a profile, though, be sure to get your NAP exactly correct! That acronym stands for Name, Address, and Phone.
If search engines find your business in multiple places with different addresses or phone numbers, that can really tank your SEO. If Google isn’t quite sure where you are, the algorithm isn’t going to guess - it’s just going to recommend the next business on the list.
Lastly, be sure you have a solid self storage website. Get a domain name that matches your business, and make your website as good as you can. If your budget is limited, you can build a site yourself - but if you have the capacity, a professional website can go a long way in showing your customers that you’re a professional facility.
Reviews are one of the most important facets of your business. Word of mouth used to be worth gold - now, word of mouth happens online, between strangers. If you provide a great experience, the customer won’t just tell friends and family - they can leave a review and tell literally everyone.
Reviews are also a big part of self storage SEO. Search engines (specifically Google, which is by far the most important one) rely on business reviews to rank your business in search results.
If you’re taking over a business, start by checking out your Google Business Profile and associated reviews. The more good reviews you have, the better. Think of good reviews like votes from your community telling the search engines “Yes, this is a good business! Send people here!”
There are many ways to respond to negative reviews. If the review is just trolling or abusive, ignore it, but if they have a legitimate issue, you might be able to fix it!
Start by responding to the reviews that don’t have a response yet. Apologize for their bad experience, and explain that the business is under new ownership. Offer whatever your best deal is if they ever need storage again. But don’t worry too much about negative reviews.
Instead, focus on getting good reviews.
The best way to get reviews is to ask for them. And make it easy! StoragePug has one-click review requests that will text a customized review request to your customers.
Build a foundation of social proof for your business - people read Google reviews, and good reviews are a spectacular way to make your operation attractive!
Speaking of making your operation attractive - pick a nice sunny day, get your best camera, and make your facility look good!
Decorate your web presence with high-quality photographs and videos. Showcase your self storage units, your security features, your front office, and anything that makes your facility special!
You can use stock photos for some of this, but good self storage photos are much better.
Potential tenants want to see the type of place they’ll be leaving their stuff. They may have had bad experiences with dirty facilities and run-down units - show them that your place isn’t like that!
Also, there will be photos of your facility online. Review aggregators like Google and Yelp will let customers post photos of your facility along with their reviews. So get ahead of the game by uploading plenty yourself!
A great Customer Experience starts when your customer first needs extra space and doesn't end until they've recommended your business to their friends and family!
This also improves your customer’s experience. Customers will have a better time renting from you if you answer all their questions quickly and easily - photos can help with that.
If you’re not much of a photographer (or even if you are), we recommend hiring a professional! This is a small expense compared to other marketing endeavors and can really set the right tone for your potential customers.
If you’ve got a great Google Business Profile, solid Yelp status, and a killer Facebook page, how do you turn that into rentals?
Don’t lose sight of that goal. It’s easy to get caught up in the number of good reviews you’ve gotten and forget that the purpose of your online presence is to get units rented.
To that end, you should get a website that can rent your units directly!
According to Ubersuggest, 89% of people search for local businesses via their smartphone at least once a week. Of those, 72% will visit a store within five miles of them! That means people who are searching for local businesses are looking to make a purchase.
Your website should let them do so - if you can capitalize on your visitors quickly, you lock in those rentals.
When your business shows up on Google, your website is basically your storefront. This is as important (or more so) as the building you work out of - so it needs to look good! Remember, local searchers are very likely to visit a business, so if they don’t like the look of yours, they’re going to find a different one.
Show your visitors why your business is their best choice. Showcase those photos. Highlight good reviews. And give your customers the opportunity to rent right away if they like what they see.
If you’re going to rent units online, you need self storage software that can communicate with your website!
There are many different brands of Property Management Software (PMS) out there, and they do a lot of different things. There are some simple options that will help you keep track of your tenants, their contact information, and billing information.
More advanced options can do a lot more, such as sending text payment reminders, syncing up with online storage auction websites, and automatically tracking and following up with leads.
A good PMS will help you operate more efficiently. “Good” here means one that matches your needs - not necessarily the one that costs the most.
We’ve got a Self Storage Software Playbook that can help you decide which one is right for you if you’re not already settled with one.
If you’re paying for a PMS, though, you need to be able to use it! There will be a learning curve with any new software, but don’t be afraid to dig in.
Once you’re proficient with your software - mainly your PMS, but including your website and others - you’ll be able to automate a lot of steps that would normally eat up your time.
Not only will this help you tackle other tasks, such as engaging with your customers or cleaning the facility, but good software is also much better at certain tasks than we are.
You can automate reminder emails, text message review requests, and lead follow-up.
Following up with your leads can help you lease up your facility or increase demand in an already full facility. The more demand there is for your self storage units, the more you can charge per square root.
Once someone has expressed interest in your business, by visiting your site, calling your office, or any other contact, you should do some sort of lead follow-up. What that is depends on your business style, your area, and the sophistication of your software.
Many operators will call a lead within 24 hours of first contact. Business moves fast nowadays. Your lead could rent somewhere else within minutes of talking to your business, so time is crucial.
Follow-up texts, emails, or calls can help you close the deal. Your software should ensure no one falls through the cracks.
Once you’ve taken these five steps, be patient! Getting ranked on Google, building a brand, and finding your customers can be a slow business.
These steps will help you create a web presence and then convert that presence into rentals.
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