“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” ~ Rodney Dangerfield
Do you want to know something funny about moving? Well, actually there is nothing funny about moving. It is one of the worst possible things you can ever put yourself through. A very large percentage of self storage renters are only there because they are moving. It becomes very easy to forget the vast array of issues associated with moving. My recent move was a stark reminder to me of why we do what we do in the self storage business and what an excellent opportunity we have to really shine to our customers.
The first thing to remember when it comes to moving is that absolutely nothing is going to go the way you had it planned. This is true of many different endeavors but seems especially true about moving. Let me just give you a brief recap of the many hiccups I encountered during our move.
The closing – In an effort to prepare for closing, I had transferred money from a number of different accounts to consolidate money for the down payment. This wasn’t a problem until the last 24 hours before closing when suddenly it became imperative that I provide all sorts of documentation as to where this money came from. The housing crisis occurred due to lack of regulation. In typical government fashion, now things are over regulated to the hilt.
The movers – when he came out to give me an estimate for moving our large pieces of furniture, the mover assured me the move, since we were only moving across town, would take no longer than 6 hours. It took over 12.
Cable television – The cable installer was a nice enough person and seemed knowledgeable enough. I had a million other things to do so I left him to his work. Big mistake. The guy drilled holes that didn’t need to be drilled, ran cabling over the French doors in my library and worst of all, ran black cable all along the front of my new home above the front entrance. It looked so bad, that when I got the customer advocate to come out, he took dozens of photos and said he had never seen such horrible work by one of their employees.
The phone company – I had taken 2 weeks of vacation to get everything moved and taken care of. The phone/internet was to be installed the 2nd Wednesday of my vacation between 8:00 and noon. No one showed up so at 12:30 I called Mark in Mumbai and he told me I had been rescheduled for Friday between noon and 3:00. I had other plans, but there wasn’t much I could do about it so I cancelled my desperately need appointment with the massage therapist. Friday rolls around and no one shows up by 3:30 so I begin getting irate. I have to go back to work on Monday and this HAS to get done today! After speaking to half the population of India I demanded a local number where I could speak to someone that get this done. I end up on the phone with someone in Missouri but did manage to get their attention and they promised me someone would be out Saturday to do the installation. They did show up, but it took many more phone calls and a lot more frustration to get everything straight, but I will spare the details.
Utilities – the very first piece of mail I received at my new address was a fine from the water company. Between the time the previous owner vacated and when we moved in, we went from stage 2 to stage 3 water restrictions, meaning, we went from being able to water every Monday to every other Monday. I wasn’t aware of this and failed to reset the sprinkler system timers. Welcome to your new home – here’s your fine.
This is just a small sampling of everything that has gone wrong and in the end, everything did get resolved, but the frustration level was high. Add to that, the frustration of not being able to find something because it is still packed and moving will generally cause a frustration level that is off the charts.
This brings me to my point: we in the self storage business have an opportunity to shine for our moving customers. We should never forget that quite often when someone enters our offices, we may not be catching them at their best. Who knows what kind of frustration they have already encountered during their move. It’s easy to write someone off as confrontational and unpleasant, but remember, they have gone through many of the same frustrations I described above. This is your opportunity to show them, we’re different. This is going to go smoothly and I am going to not only meet your expectations – I am going to exceed them.
This is a little different from dealing with a customer who may be frustrated by something that has happened with your business – I’m talking about a brand new customer walking into your office for the very first that are frustrated due to circumstances you had absolutely nothing to do with. For these customers our goal is to make them ELATED with our service, so I have developed the following acronym to follow;
E – Empathize: Let them know you understand what they are going through. You’ve moved before yourself and everyday you hear stories from other new customers just like them.
L – Listen: Let the customer vent. It will calm them down just to relay their story to someone. Once they get it off their chest, you can assure them their storage experience will go as smoothly as possible.
A – Ask and Advise: You’re the professional. You see this every day. They may be impatient, but let the customer know, “I know how frustrating moving can be and I don’t want to add to that frustration. Let’s make certain we put you in the right size so we don’t have to do this all over again.” Ask the right questions so you can give the customer the right advice.
T – Treatment: The customer is not always right – but they are always the customer. Be respectful at all times, even if they disagree with you.
E – Educate: For many new customers, this may be their first experience at renting storage. Be prepared to give them tips about storing their items. Explain why insurance is important. Make certain they fully understand how the gate access works.
D – Deliver: This is the most important of all – always deliver on what you promise. All of your work to this point will be for naught if you forget to do something as simple as removing the lock from their space or entering the correct gate code.