I guess this week's blog is sparked by a feeling of compassion for my fellow Stormanites. Many of you wouldn't have been through the last recession "that we had to have" during Paul Keating's term as Prime Minister in Australia. For those amongst you who remember interest rates at 16%, the current economic climate, while bad, could certainly get worse and if you speak to many people they will indeed tell you that things are going to get worse. However I am not one of those people who just accept that I can't do anything about the current "recession" we have. So this week let's look at some of the up sides of our current economic climate.
Firstly, all of you will undoubtedly be aware that petrol is the cheapest it's been in almost two years. This is good because not only does it free up an extra $50 per week in the average household it means that people are prepared to travel a bit more. This means that it may be time to market outside of your traditional target areas for those people who are willing to travel a bit further. It is times like these that I would definitely be looking at free move in equipment such as trailers and trucks etc. It is these types of things that will encourage people to use you rather than the person down the road. On the other hand, it is important to note that once they are in the car they can shop multiple stores and as we all know once they are a "qualified" buyer they will then try and find the cheapest price. To counter this, try a coupon or voucher system that gives them a value add such as $X amount off the merchandise that they will surely need.
Secondly, while it is sad that some people are losing their jobs or looking for different jobs, it is true to say that this creates a need for storage! Why? Many of the jobs may be in the larger cities or alternatively in the regional centres outside of the cities. Either way, this creates an increased demand for storage as people shift homes and units in search of jobs. This was certainly true last time around. The other thing that people who lose their jobs give us is an increased demand for storage through trying to save those possessions that they have worked hard for to buy in the first place. Many people will sell investment properties that are furnished or the kids will move back in with mum and dad and as rents rise in the unit sector we will see many people downsize or move into share accommodation. All of this is guaranteed to create a need for storage.
Thirdly, in the current economic climate the name of the game is to protect your primary source of revenue... no, I'm not talking shotguns and the like, I am saying that we are a business that has several income streams but the most important being that of the rental income. So while it may be very tempting to match the offer from down the road, it will - and does, have a potential impact on your ability to pay bills and compete a year from now. So, as many of you would know, now is absolutely the time to look at all your discounts and maybe trim some back, change what you give away from rental to merchandise, free trailers, even petrol vouchers, etc as this will not have a long term impact on your rental return. Contact the support team or myself if you need some assistance, as StorMan is quite flexible in making all this work well. Andy from our marketing team at StorMan Business Services can help you design some of the vouchers and flyers that you need for this. Remember - we are here to help you. If you have done all this and then have to give a discount to secure the customers business, then may have to re-assess if that person is worth "buying" as a customer.
Fourthly, it is time to look at your facility with fresh eyes, invite a team members spouse or someone who doesn't work there every day and ask them to critically look at the facility. First impressions can often be the difference between obtaining the business or not. The last thing you want to do is work so hard for the business only for customers to not want to store with you because the lawn is 3 feet high and there is graffiti on the end of the building.
If your facility is looking great, then use StorMan to take advantage of that fact. Many of the more successful operators are using pictures to tell the story. StorMan allows you to attach photos and other attachments to your email enquiries so that you can easily show the benefits of storing with you. You can also use our online reservations system to successfully maximise the customer capture from your website - speaking of which StorMan Business Services are having a special this month on website "refreshing" and would be happy to talk to anyone regarding their requirements... just make contact via the above link for more details.
Lastly, and by no means least, work smarter. StorMan has many money-saving devices built into it. Use these to minimise costs, but maximise exposure and sales opportunities. I for one would suggest you attend our PowerSessions as they are free and show you how to get the most out of specific areas of StorMan... in less than 20 minutes!
So after all this I am hoping that i may have planted the seeds of ideas that will allow you to positively tackle the current economic crisis. Oh - and one more thought to take home with you today... in the nineties, Self Storage was only one of about four industries that grew during the recession. There is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't do so again.
- Ben (International Sales Manager, StorMan Software)