REITs and bigger chains are on the rise in the self storage market. What should smaller storage companies do to survive?
Self storage has always been competitive, but in recent years it’s become extremely popular. As a result, large chains and REITs (real estate investment trusts) have emerged. While it’s obviously a good sign of market growth, the steady expansion of big franchises is a worry for smaller companies. The “big guys” have more resources and larger facilities. Worry not, there’s a key area where you can dominate them - customer experience. This article covers the basics of tailoring customer experience on every level of customers’ interaction with your company. We’ll focus on marketing, customer service, and post-purchase practices.
Self storage marketing for smaller companies
One of the most effective methods to rise above larger competitors is to optimise your marketing plan and align it with the customer. The first step - be present at the start of any customer’s purchase path. Make sure that potential customers hear about you, know how you solve their problems and what makes you stand out. For smaller companies, a vital part of achieving this is optimising your local search. As opposed to organic search, local search is when the search engine believes the search query has a location restriction. The local search results will then appear above the organic search results. If you take advantage of a couple of tips and tricks, you may rank higher than the “big and tough” competitors when your potential customers search.
There are a few ways you can optimise local search. Keep all your company information up to date and consistent across all your online platforms. If Google or Bing detects an inconsistency, it’ll make it harder for you to reach the top places on local listings. These smaller, more menial tasks will sometimes slip through the cracks at a larger company, giving you a shot to take advantage. Similarly, customer reviews are super important in beating out your competitors. Don’t be shy to ask for a review. As a smaller business, it’s much easier to turn up the charm and ask for a kind review online. Explain to your customers how much you appreciate their reviews and positive feedback, as it really helps your business out. It’s also important to carve out time to respond to these reviews. This will just make your company seem even friendlier, and encourage others to keep posting reviews.
Google My Business
It costs you nothing to make a Google My Business account. The setup is simple and straightforward - sign up and fill in the forms. Add quality images of your facility and a logo. This enables Google to make a simple landing page that has the key info of your business and displays it about the standard results and on Google Maps.
Another super powerful method is to make sure you have strong local link building. Similar to regular SEO, search engines will place you higher up the results if you have links leading to other credible websites. Local link building, therefore, is simply the same concept but with local, credible websites. This could be a credible reference on a newspaper, a sponsorships page, or a local school’s resources website. Getting these links is a simple task of doing some PR and building strong relationships in your community, which is vital to a smaller company’s success anyway.
Importance of quality customer service
Another easy area where you can dominate the bigger competitor is superior customer service. Take the time to improve yours. The advantage of having a smaller business is that you can tailor your customer’s purchasing paths much more than a big company. Have a plan as to when you’ll call or email again to follow up. Present your company as a business that cares and that caters to your customer’s needs perfectly (as opposed to a monolithic box chain). Ensure that your staff is trained properly in responding to customer complaints quickly and efficiently, on top of having a friendly face and being genuine. Ask questions to make sure that you’re covering everything your customer needs, as well as things that maybe they wouldn’t have thought of. Big franchises will often lack the specific storage expertise that you or your staff might have. Show off this expertise and emphasize any sort of advantage you have against your competitors there.
Post-purchase customer support
After your customer has chosen your services, there are still ways to make sure they keep using them. Post-purchase practices are another area you can focus on to beat out a bigger competitor. They’re really just an extension of your focus on customer service. Again, big companies will often have a harder time and spend more money trying to seem genuine and not a monolithic corporation. You can use this to your advantage in post-purchase as well. Remember key dates for each customer, such as birthdays, anniversaries, cultural celebrations, and send celebratory messages to them when they come up. Why not have a welcome package for them when they rent their first unit? Small gestures like this go a long way, especially for a smaller company.
Overall, bigger companies will always have an advantage when it comes to resources and money, but there are different ways you can attempt to beat them out. The key things to remember are the advantages a smaller company has, such as being more friendly and approachable, as well as optimizing local search. Playing to these strengths gives you the best chance for your local customers to continue to choose you!
Managing your self storage with Storeganise
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