Last week’s Navigating Uncertain Times webinar was another operator roundtable hosted by Storable CEO Chuck Gordon. He was joined by Raheem Amer, Senior VP of Operations for Devon Self Storage, Melissa Stiles, VP of Marketing and Sales for Storage Asset Management and M. Anne Ballard, President of Marketing, Training, and Developmental Services for Universal Storage Group.  

Together they discussed how to shift to a contactless operation without losing the personal connection with your customers, simple steps to stay in front of online shoppers and why it’s more important than ever, and how they’re currently handling liens and late fees.

After the webinar, we sent our guests some follow-up questions to help provide even more guidance and clarity to other operators. 

Q&A

Are you offering special promotions for customers that opt-in to autopay? 

M. Anne Ballard:

“We call it the “NO LATE FEE GUARANTEE” and invite all customers to enroll at move in using an assumptive close like, ‘here at Anne’s self storage we prefer all customers get our no late fee guarantee, which credit card will you be using?’”

Melissa Stiles:

“We are not doing a promotion, but we did have our stores purchase gift cards to local small businesses. We are using these as a giveaway to customers who sign up for auto pay. It’s a win in giving back to our communities and enticing customers to enroll in autopay. If someone signs up for autopay, they are entered to win the local business gift card in an allotted period of time. Additionally, we explain the benefits of autopay.”

Rahemm Amer:

“No incentive has been given. We make auto pay part of our sales process. We inform the customer we are an autopay company and proceed to put them on autopay. For new customers it works great. Current customers that have been grandfathered in…it’s a challenge. We use waiving late fees as an incentive for them – we will waive your late fee if you go on auto pay.”

Where are you cutting or increasing your marketing spends at the moment? Specifically, are you making any changes to Google PPC? 

M. Anne Ballard:

“We increased PPC last two years and continue with our in place plan; heat mapping where we want to be number 1 and price scraping the comps daily to match or promote best values.” 

Melissa Stiles:

“We are evaluating this. We are decreasing some spend on Google PPC in markets where there are stay at home orders and we have seen conversions fall. We are looking at search lost budget to evaluate the decrease rather than a straight across the board number.  We have not cut facebook ads spend. On both platforms, we added in copy, videos, and language that states about using storage to create space for working from home and contactless online rentals.”

Rahemm Amer:

“With the increase in online traffic in social media (due to working from home) we have increased our spend on FB ads. We are seeing some good returns over the last month. Having a strong digital presence will make a difference for your brand awareness and performance. Don’t expect to see CPC drop during this time period, because the REIT’s are ramping up on digital marketing spend. Recommendation would be to focus your spend based off of lost impressions share due to budget.”

How are you handling landscaping of the property? Are you asking your managers to take on this task?

M. Anne Ballard:

“All landscapers in place and no change to this as curb appeal is critical especially now.” 

Melissa Stiles:

“In most areas, landscaping has been essential and we have not yet run into this.”

Rahemm Amer:

“We are spread out from the East to West coast. We haven’t seen landscapers not coming out.”

Is anyone limiting the amount of traffic on the properties? How many people can be on the property at the same time?

M. Anne Ballard:

“All stores offices are locked with managers inside, using Ring Doorbell and posted signs to communicate via phone or cell phone.”

Melissa Stiles:

“As of now, we are not limiting traffic onto the facilities. We are not allowing customers to enter into the office, though. We are serving them through phone and online.”

Rahemm Amer:

“Not limiting to our customers. We are limiting manager to manager interaction. One manager in the office while the other must be on the property. They switch off during the day.”