Whether it’s conducting a market study for the benefit of our clients or for our internal company use regarding a new development, acquisition or expansion, I systematically phone shop every facility within the primary marketing area of a subject site. From start to finish, this exercise may involve several phone calls to the same facility over the course of days or even weeks to ensure I get every rental rate per size and class possible. Additionally, as part of our company policy, I require every store to provide me an updated competition survey quarterly. Routinely, I dedicate time to call their competition and verify the information they’ve submitted to me, as well as place calls to their competitors in between each revised survey. Regardless of the state, city or marketplace, there is one constant subject matter that stands out among all others: phone etiquette.
As an optimist, I’m always expecting, despite the number of previous disappointing calls, to hear a clear, well spoken, professional and courteous manager on the other end of the phone. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the time I am shocked at the flippant and often lethargic attitude displayed by some facility managers. It always astonishes me that no one is interested in knowing or even asking for my name. I know there are managers out there who are well versed, knowledgeable and professional in their discourse with potential customers. However, in my opinion, our industry has not concentrated enough on this topic to where those individuals are the majority of our store level management. Instead, we’ve bypassed or perhaps even worse, forgotten, that fundamental practice and replaced it with remote call centers, for instance, thereby reducing the accountability of our most important element in our industry: the store level manager.
So the next time your office phone rings with a potential customer, understand and try the following:
1. The most important aspect of a phone call is to get them to the store.
2. Ask for their name and use it throughout the phone call.
3. Convey an enthusiastic and authentic tone with the customer because without them you don’t have a job, unless of course you are fortunate enough to work at a facility that doesn’t care about conversion ratios and overall occupancy and revenue performance.
4. You already know there is a strong likelihood that your competition, even perhaps yourself, fall into the “poor phone etiquette” category. Therefore, differentiate yourself and your facility and provide superior phone etiquette.
5. A customer will often forget their due date, their unit number and their gate code, but they never forget how they were treated or their initial experience. So make it an experience to remember.