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October 6, 2021
The self storage landscape has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Customers have more choices than ever for where to rent their storage unit, making it essential to set your business apart from the competition. One way to do this is by giving your customers a smooth experience during the most stressful part of their journey: moving in.
The customer’s journey begins long before they choose to rent from you and start the self storage onboarding process. To the customer, though, this is often where the adventure and struggle really begins. Now they have committed, they have actual work to do, and they have a lot to learn. They need your help to know what to expect and where to go.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can set your customers up for success during this stage.
The first thing to remember to improve your self storage onboarding procedure is to communicate with your customers.
Have you ever bought something, gotten it home, and opened the box only to find out the instructions are way too confusing or vague? Or worse, maybe the instructions aren’t there to begin with. No one wants to deal with that hassle, and it can quickly ruin your experience with an otherwise great product.
You can fall victim to this even in the self storage industry.
Picture this: You rent a storage unit online, and at the end of the process, you have a screen confirming your rental and nothing else. What do you do? Are there any documents you need to bring with you on your first visit? Do you need to buy your own lock, or does the unit come with one?
That doesn’t sound like a great first experience, does it? As an owner or operator of a self storage facility, you can ensure your customers never suffer this confusion. Think about the rental onboarding process from your customer’s point of view and anticipate the information they would like to have from the moment they commit to renting with you.
Now that we’ve talked about how important it is to reach out to and communicate with your customers, we are left with figuring out precisely what should be shared. The information you relay to your new tenants should help set expectations that can guide them and reduce confusion or anxiety about the move-in process.
Let’s put that another way.
From the moment your customer chooses to rent, you should make sure they know exactly what to expect and what is expected of them.
Expectations go two ways, and it’s crucial that we don’t forget that! We have expectations for customers—paperwork they’re required to bring or sign, the rent due, rules for the facility—but the customer will also have expectations. If you don’t set these expectations upfront, customers will be left to guess. This means they’ll face uncertainty, frustration, and often will come up with the wrong expectations, if any at all. The result of that mess is a dissatisfied customer because they were lost or because you failed to meet their expectations.
Here’s a handy checklist of possible things to communicate clearly to your customer:
The best way to stand out is by taking the extra steps to set you and your facility apart. So what does this mean for self storage rental onboarding?
Stand-out customer service.
Customer service is part of the customer’s entire journey. It may take different forms at different stages, but it’s just as important at every step of the process. So what are some of the ways that you can use exceptional customer service skills to go the extra mile and make your customers’ self storage onboarding experience memorable?
Here are some examples of ways you can set your facility apart:
You’re the self storage expert. Even if a customer isn’t entirely new to renting a storage unit, assume that where they have previously rented isn’t as awesome as you want your own business to be. Your customers will likely have no idea about best practices for storing their belongings, and they may not be in the headspace to find that information out on their own.
Your customers will appreciate expert advice on how to pack and store their property. As a bonus, properly stored items will be less likely to suffer damage that might cause the customer's experience to become negative.
You might have the best layout for a self storage facility ever. Your signage is on point, you have facility maps at every crossroads, and you've even created a color-coded pathway system that a toddler could follow.
Walk your customer to their unit anyway.
Walking them in on their first visit isn’t just about making sure they can find their way to the storage unit. It is about establishing your staff as helpful and caring. When they get there, you can even show them how to unlock their unit to avoid confusion and questions down the road.
Welcome packages can include a wide variety of items. Include things in it like pamphlets about the facility, coupons for local businesses, invitations to leave reviews, and anything else you think that might be beneficial to your customer. A welcome package left in a storage unit has loads of benefits for you AND the customer.
For you, it is an opportunity to create a great first impression and possibly even build relationships with other businesses in your community. It can also be a way to deliver information in case a given customer isn’t responsive to emails. You might even leave a package to welcome customers if you don’t have on-site staff to do so in person!
For customers, a welcome package makes them feel great about their choice! Remember, many people that rent a storage unit are going through difficult or stressful times, and this kind of thoughtful touch can make them feel like you’ve got their back. Of course, the most obvious benefit to the customer comes in the form of whatever information and goodies you choose to include in the package.
It is increasingly likely that your customers will not have access to a vehicle that is large enough to transport what they need to store with you. Providing a truck to transport their boxes, furniture, and other property will take another stressor off their plate and put another point in your favor.
Hopefully, this has helped you see the customer’s self storage onboarding experience from a new perspective. It’s easy to only see the process from the business side of things, but this is an incredibly important stage to the customer. Understanding the customer’s needs during the rental onboarding process is key to delivering a great experience.
Of course, onboarding is only one part of the customer journey. It’s vital to see the entire experience through a different set of eyes to make sure you set your self storage business up for success.
At StoragePug , we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you. With Insights, our self storage marketing platform, operators get the data and digital tools they need to make the get out of their website and their self storage investment.