Renting isn’t what it used to be. As markets become more competitive than ever before, it’s imperative that facilities provide tenants with the tools, features, and security they want. Tenants have expectations, and if your facility fails to meet them, you risk bad reviews, lower occupancy, and ultimately, decreased revenue. 

Chances are, your self storage market is becoming oversaturated as more facilities open, and without careful planning, you could have units sit empty. According to Yardi’s September National Self Storage Report, “The self storage industry is in for a continued tough slog, as new deliveries weigh on street rates in almost all markets.” 

With street rates declining or remaining stagnant, the trick to increasing success could be improving the tenant experience. Tenants have more options than ever before, but with superior customer service, online rental tools, and great facility features, your facility can compete with even the largest REITs and big-box facilities.

If you’re wondering how to embrace the end-user experience, don’t worry! Keep reading to learn more about some of the most effective things your facility should have to help tenants. 

Rent anything, Online! 

From hotel rentals to Airbnbs, to renting cars, the world of renting has gone digital –  but has your facility? If you don’t have an online rental tool of any kind, take a moment to think about why you’ve chosen not to adopt one. REITs and facilities of all sizes use them now as a way to attract potential tenants that don’t want to stop by a leasing office, or who want to make their trip to a facility shorter.

 Even Inside Self Storage understands the importance of automating the rental process. “According to “The Real Self-Service Economy” by Steven Van Belleghem, 40 percent of consumers prefer self-service to human contact, and 70 percent expect a company to offer a self-service option.”

By offering an online rental tool, facilities put the power back in the hands of the end-user. It can feel counterintuitive to automate the process as a way of improving customer experiences, but many customers prefer the lack of human interaction during the rental process as it allows them to spend time researching.  

An online rental tool that tenants will actually appreciate should be mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. To help improve their experience, your facility’s online rental tool should also offer “extras” such as insurance and moving supplies. When people rent units, they often need boxes, locks, and even cloud storage, so by offering these extras, you’ll increase your revenue while simultaneously streamlining the tenant’s storage process.

Your online rental tool can only be as effective as the website you install it on, so make sure to have a great website. A well-designed website combined with a state-of-the-art online rental tool will help cultivate a world-class tenant experience that outshines the competition. 

On-Site Features

You can have the best online rental tool in the industry, but if your facility is lacking basic features and amenities, it can still be difficult to create a great end-user experience. Tenants want a clean, safe facility.

When a tenant walks into their unit for the first time, is it dusty? Are there bugs or rodents? Is the nearest trash can overflowing? Ensuring a clean facility is easy, but it has a huge impact on first impressions. 

According to Moving, tenants should look for climate control, security, and free amenities. Other ways to attract and retain tenants is with a small marketplace, as offering locks, boxes, and moving supplies can help tenants turn your facility into a one-stop-shop for their storage needs.

Customer Service

The customer isn’t always right, but it doesn’t mean you need to tell them that. According to American Express, consumers will spend about 17% more on a company that has great customer service, so it’s really in your best interest to invest in employees and processes that create that “great” experience tenants want.  Expanding on this, Bain & Company estimates that increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase annual profits upwards of 25%. If a tenant calls during business hours, how long does it take for them to get a response? Is it minutes, hours, or days? By improving the turnaround time in solving customer service needs, your facility can increase tenant happiness, retention, and profit.

More than 170,000 people are employed in self storage in the United States according to Statistic Brain, so if your employees are missing the mark with tenants, don’t be afraid to reevaluate and find employees that better serve your needs. For more tips on finding great employees, check out this Self Storage Association blog.

Customer service is more than just handling their problems – it’s about anticipating and planning for them. As your facility evolves, it’s important to anticipate basic customer needs and be prepared to quickly handle them. If a new tenant says their unit isn’t clean, do you have a way to have their unit quickly brought up to standards? If your point-of-sale system in the leasing office goes down, do you have a way for employees to process payments?

As you work on developing great customer service, look to other industries for inspiration. Do you keep track of tenant support needs, or just assume that employees are handling it on their own?

As you read this, you likely resonated with parts of it. Maybe your facility already has amazing employees, but your website isn’t driving sales. Or perhaps your facility has top-notch features, but employee culture is lackluster. By improving in these three areas, you can improve the tenant experience, creating happier tenants and a more successful facility.

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