The Internet is fast becoming a way for customers to search for self storage facilities, but the simple phone call is still the most prevalent way a customer gets information. Statistics show 93 percent of all renters call a facility first and their main question is what size units are available. During the few minutes a salesperson is on the phone, he must build a rapport with the customer and hopefully make the sale. But some employees interact better with customers in person. Mystery shopping is a way to evaluate phone sales and train staff in handling telephone communications with customers looking for self storage.
The Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, N.V., March 14-16, 2011, will be showcasing the speaker, Lori Niemczyk, founder of Top Shop!, a Colorado-based, customer-service evaluating company. The company is one of the country’s leaders in mystery shopping, offering client feedback to increase return on investment, track and document rent and legal procedures, and evaluations of employee phone calls and in-person sales. Her speech will be presented on Monday, March 14 at 3 p.m. at the Paris Hotel & Resort. The company stresses the benefits to mystery shopping as a way to make sure employees are exuding a positive attitude and using professional sales skills to being in clients.
The handling of phone calls is an integral part of a mystery shopping evaluation. Also featured at the conference is an expert on the handling of salesman skills over the phone and the benefits of using a call center. Tron Jordheim, director of PhoneSmart will speak about how call center services and sales-coaching can benefit the self storage industry. The company is not just an answering service, contact center or training company. It also offers an off-site sales force that can significantly boost revenue. The company can act as the first point of customer contact with incoming phone calls. It integrates a business’s Web site, e-mail, and telephone operations into one unit. Training seminars, resource materials, secret shopping, and coaching calls are all available to help train staff. PhoneSmart has created more than 750,000 reservations and leads for industry clients.
In a recent online Self-Storage Talk forum, several self storage owners chimed in on the topic of mystery shopping and telephone sales. One owner noted that some of his employees are better at selling in person, but noted that telephone sales are “key to getting customers in” and then making the sale. Another owner said she found many customers are only concerned with whether the right size unit for their needs is available. But by using savvy telephone skills to get around the size issue, one noted, you can still get them in to visit your location.
Another owner on the forum said that although being secretly evaluated can be stressful, it can also be enlightening, especially in the area of phone skills. Once you have a potential customer in the door, the impression of the facility and your interaction with them for the first few minutes is crucial. Most clients, in his opinion, don’t make decisions off certain amenities or promotions, but rather the rapport that is established during the first three minutes of a phone call.
Self-Storage Talk. Dec. 30, 2010.