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"Self Service" process; COVID or not

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  • "Self Service" process; COVID or not

    Attached are two YouTube links on doing Self-service processing. Hopefully they generate some ideas for you.
    One is on our latest location and the process to rent a unit. I will note the differences from this, versus our country locations. The second video is to help the customers choose the size of the unit. Excuse the bald head guy, he was the only person I could hire for a free lunch.

    We were still working fulltime prior to retiring, in fast paced and hectic positions. Knew I wanted to do Storage and multiple locations so we developed these processes. While working, only answered on breaks or lunchtime. We have 8 locations in 5 towns. 6 of the locations are in towns of 5,000 or less within 40 miles (610 units). The larger two (950 units) are in Rent up stage or build out stage in a 1mm metro area. All of these locations are/will be handled via my cell phone for rent out and move out. Yes, we still need feet on the ground with our process, but you do it on your schedule and not the customers. Yes, we get great reviews. We're the tops in our City. We only meet maybe 1% of our customers ever, but we take care of the ones who need it. The rest just want a unit.

    1. You might see some odd things, but there is a purpose for each item/process. Example: Just punch the gate button???
    2. On the contract in the right corner are the "Standard" prices. This saves a call. If the customer got a different price, they put that in the Price field.
    3. In the country locations we require the contract and payments to be mailed. On those contracts our address is in the upper left hand corner.
    4. Our new location is Autopay only with Credit card or bank account. You might think this is for Selfservice or Covid, but it is a Security technique. All of our other storage locations run 66% autopay. Thus we will lose some customers that are cash/check only. We won't lose the entire 34% since some customer don't want to, but can pay Autopay. This approach has gotten us less auctions, also most of my problems were with my Cash/Check customers. Plus the "Check is in the Mail" isn't an excuse. This allows us to cover more storage units and spend less time calling, locking, unlocking, cleaning trash units, etc. I would not do this in the countryside. Our new location has a large customer pool, so I can afford to "select" customers.
    5. Behind the scenes we sweep out "move outs", reload with new contracts and locks, put a new zip tie on. We do this on our time/schedule.
    6. Does this system work. We have done this for 6 years over multiple locations.
    7. How about vacations? This works in Belize, France and Italy. I haven't tried other countries yet. Belize is the best since it is in the Central time zone.

    When each of us do something, we think it's the greatest thing since "Sliced Bread". My wife came on and said lets put the prices in the right corner. Then she put addressed envelopes in each packet. Our insurance guy wanted us to sale more, so we just started putting their flyers in the packages and we are selling more, even though it was already on our contract.

    Key, if you see something and have a better way, or just another option, please throw it into the conversation.

    I heard after "Sliced Bread" they came up with a Toaster. Who would of thunk it.

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing. A few questions if you don't mind.

    - I have to admit that number 1 seems very strange. Why even have a gate?
    - Have you had issues with people cutting the zip ties and either storing junk or taking the locks. I know you have a lot of cameras but at least hear the police don't want to get involved over minor stuff.
    - Are you not concerned about fraud with people writing down their credit card numbers and either mailing it or dropping it off. Do you have higher credit card processing because the card isn't present?
    - If a customer doesn't have to contact you I assume that you have some going to the property regulary to look for empty units.
    - Why do you have the customer put the lock in the unit? My guess is that if they don't then you assume that they are still renting the unit? Any issues with customers taking the lock really moving out?
    - Not that we can travel now but I am not sure I would want to get a call while drinking wine in France or Italy


    • #3
      -The gate question, I'll address in a separate "Topic" on security measures. It's a cost versus benefit discussion.
      - People take locks ($4 each), might have had 20 stolen in 6 years, over all of the locations and units. Junk storage, is a problem, but maybe 6 over the same time. 2 of the times, I had the police call them and they came and got there stuff.
      - Haven't ever had a fraud issue with credit cards. I have their storage goods.
      - Once a week or more we go to each location to do an inventory, pick up trash, mow, reload contracts/sweep/zip tie move outs, etc. If we have a unit someone moved into, we load them as a "test123" customer. 1. Put another zip tie on them. 2. Week two we lock them out. 3. Week 4 we cut their lock and see if we can contact them. 4. After week 4 we either dispose of their property as "Abandoned". Usually we call up one of our auction people and give it to them, to clean out. Or we put on our next auction cycle depending on the need for the unit.
      - Locks are only $4, whether they keep them or not. Part of our customer service and security measure. Re-use them. Most leave them with only one key. We use them for lock outs with a red zip tie, or if we have both sets of keys, we load them into another empty unit to rent.
      - Traveling or otherwise. You have to be able to control yourself on the Phone. Most people are tied to the phone and can't resist to pickup. Either turn your phone off at dinner or other events, or turn it down and don't answer it. You might lose a customer, but that's fine. The rest of the year, I am 24/7. You call at 11:00 pm on a Saturday, I will rent to you if needed (you just fled your house and can't go back without police, fire, etc).

      Key- with multiple locations, your can't meet people. Most of the locations are to small to justify on site management. No point in picking a day and time to meet. Who wants to travel 40 miles to find they didn't show. Plus everyone wants McDonalds (now). Part of our product differentiation is "Now". They don't care who cooked the burger.

      Thanks for the questions. I'll try to put out a Security "Topic" today to address some of your notes above.


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