Note: Any posted comments are subject to approval. 

A Self-Storage Facility is a Microcosm of Your Community

Jun 11, 2015
Eric_Stor Self Storage_webby Eric Coronado
Stor Self Storage

I’ve been in self-storage for nine years and before this I was in ac­count maintenance at Citibank. Cooped up in a cubicle for seven years, I was more than ready for a change. Working in the self-storage industry has allowed me to interact with so many people, I never looked back. My father retired from self storage in 2006. I witnessed the satisfaction he re­ceived from helping to make someone’s day just a little better. Whether it was lis­tening to a customer share a story then offering an encouraging word or just timely, expedited service, he always did it with enthusiasm and a warm smile.

A large self-storage facility is a micro­cosm of the community you serve. Your customers range from bright-eyed stu­dents leaving home for college, to newly­weds purchasing their first home, military personnel being deployed, businesses outgrowing their space, empty nesters downsizing, someone going through a divorce, fire or water damage victims, all the way to someone losing a family member. In most cases, I get to speak with people about what is happening in their life. Therein lies the opportunity to make a difference.

Moving can be one of the most physically demanding, stressful, and expensive events in people’s lives. My commitment is to make it as easy and as stress-free as possible. There are many small things you can do to make the “storage portion” of moving easy, and these can all add up to a positive experience for the customer.

I remember a gentleman came in to inquire about storing his RV. He was new in town and also needed to have his RV winterized. I gave him a tour of our facility, hit all the features and benefits, but despite my best efforts, he thanked me and said he’d get back with me. After he left, I checked online and made some calls gathering as much information about winterizing his particular RV as possible. Having ob­tained his number before he left, I called him with compiled pricing information for winterizing his vehicle. Long story short, he came back to rent at our facil­ity even though he admitted that we’re located a little further away and slightly more expensive than another facility he visited, but when he saw the custom list I made for his RV, he felt more comfort­able entrusting his vehicle to us.

Going the extra mile puts the odds in your favor. My approach to cus­tomer service has always been “all-in.” When a prospective customer receives concierge-like service, you WILL stand out from the crowd.

Here are some scenarios we regularly face: Movers arrive at the facility before the customer does. No problem, we offer after-hours move-in. Need storage-for-business supplies but can’t break away from the office? Piece of cake. An elderly customer needs to be met at their location to sign a storage lease. Why not? Always look for solutions.

Existing customers get VIP treatment and that always translates into referrals.  Honing these proven sales skills with my fellow managers allows me to best help my customers.

Getting to know Eric...

My approach to customer service has always been “all-in.”

One of my favorite TV shows from the 90’s was Seinfeld, and almost everyone remembers the ridiculously strict soup vendor that made great tasting soup. All of his customers had to place their order correctly and follow the rules just so, otherwise, they would be met with a loud “No Soup for you!” and be ejected from the line of frightened customers. So unyielding was this guy, that he earned the nick-name “The Soup Nazi.” Unforgettable! As laughable as that is, I have actually met some storage managers who run their office and treat their customers in the same fashion. So rigid and set in their ways, that just watching them deal with customers is stressful. Lighten up!

This article originally appeared in the MayJune 2015 issue of Self-Storage News.

Each issue of Self-Storage News features a manager or other self-storage professional who shares insights into what it takes to manage a self-storage facilities in today's market.  If you, or someone who works for you, would like to be featured, send an email to TSSA with contact information.