Below is the list of Answers to the Questions asked during the September 19, 2018 Industry Webinar by Sue Haviland and Jim Ferguson of Haviland Storage Services. If you missed the webinar you may watch it on-demand from the SiteLink website.
Q. When competitor shopping, how do you ensure staff is actually shopping in person and not just online or over the phone?
A. We ask that shoppers bring back a photo of the front of the facility, along with a business card or brochure with the manager’s name. They should bring back some sort of collateral just to show they have physically been to the site.
Q. For how many days should we train a new person? What should we start with?
A. There are many variables to this and no wrong answer! For example, a small operator has a different budget and time frame compared to larger operators. A good rule of thumb is to train for a minimum of one week, and a couple of weeks is better. You should never put someone behind the counter who doesn’t at least know the product.
Start with a list and/or outline of what you would like to cover each day, and try to stick to the plan as much as possible. Of course, day-to-day business operations may affect what training gets done, but it’s a good idea to try to stick to the list.
Q. How do you compensate a manager for in-person competitor shopping?
A. We like to consider it part of the job. When competitor shopping, an employee is on the clock and it is the same as sending them on any other errand such as going to the bank. If you pay mileage for other errands, you would do the same for competitor shopping mileage. You may also want to consider paying for meals, such as lunch or dinner, while they are out. Find what works for you.
Q. What is the best way to audit lead and reservation follow-ups to ensure they are being done on time or in a timely manner?
A. Occasionally we will visit a site and call leads ourselves and maybe ask if they have received a follow up. If a lead has been there for a week or two with no new notes or activity, the staff is clearly not working it.
It helps to adjust your lead follow-up settings in SiteLink. If you set leads for immediate follow-up, and if employees see that you are checking on them, they are more likely to be on top of it.
Q. What type of letters do you recommend using in the SiteLink CRM (Customer Relationship Management)?
A. We recommend utilizing just a few CRM letters, and not so many that a tenant is being bombarded with them. Good choices to start with include the welcome letter, a lead follow-up letter and a birthday letter. Customizing letters makes it even more personal and people appreciate the extra effort. For example, you could create a customized letter for tenants who prepay or one to remind a tenant that their credit card is expiring.
In SiteLink, there are 2 ways to create a CRM letter: as a Word document or as a web page. You can format CRM letters to be printed and mailed, or just emailed, and you can customize them with your branding such as company colors and logo. You can also set up trigger events to automate the entire process.
Q. How does mobile storage competitor tracking differ from brick-and-mortar storage (tracking transportation costs as an additional variable)?
A. In terms of competitor tracking, there is no distinction made between mobile and traditional self-storage. In both cases you can add and compare unit sizes and types. Transportation or variable costs are not part of the calculation.
Q. For online rentals, do you provide gate access up-front? Are you leaving a certain amount of units unlocked or at least with a blue tag?
A. We have seen facilities do this in a couple of ways. Most leave the first one or two on the vacancy list unlocked–these would get rented first with a tag vs. a lock.
We still require a stop in the office to give a new tenant a code, mainly so we can switch from the random assigned code to a code the tenant will remember. It also gives us the opportunity to welcome the tenant and see if they need anything else.