I recently read an article featuring Tilman Fertitta, the chairman of Landry’s Inc., an American, privately owned, multi-brand dining, hospitality, entertainment and gaming corporation.

So, what can a guy with 600 restaurants, casinos, hotels and sports teams tell us about storage? A lot, if we’re willing to connect a few dots.

Fertitta was asked about the influence of celebrity chefs in the restaurant business. He responded, that while they have done a good job of focusing customers' attention on great food, in many cases, they have forced their personality on their customers at the expense of hospitality.

I believe that same service paradox can creep into any industry when we become more attached to technology, than people.

So, what does that have to do with storage? Everything, if we accept the premise that each of our customers are experiencing some degree of stress when they lease a space.

When we are constantly connected to everything, as a manager, it can be easy to convince yourself that great people aren’t as important as they once were. In sales, nothing is further from the truth.

Creating a positive customer experience in self storage is simple. Friendly informed advice, a clean, well-lighted site, and prompt resolution to any problems that may occur. Not too tough.

Just like those chefs, we can go astray if we fall prey to our “great ideas”.

"One of the best examples I can think of, is when I visited one of the largest operators (at that time) that had placed large expensive banners proclaiming that "We Sell Boxes" inside of their buildings. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the most likely reason an existing customer might want to buy boxes is to move out. I’m sure that someone was convinced that their revenue would skyrocket from this great idea. I’m not so sure that it wasn’t the guy selling the banners."

And, while we are on the topic of signs, do you honestly believe that negative signage changes human behavior? “STOP! If you don’t pay your rent you will be denied access.” Well that’s impressive! Perhaps, just perhaps, that topic should have been covered during the rental process. But what’s worse is that you have posted a negative sign in front of every prospect or customer.

Don’t forget the hospitality.

Robert Francis

Robert has been active in the operation and management of investment real estate for more than 40 years. Beginning in 1974 in the multi-family housing sector, he operated apartments, condominiums, and suburban office buildings, medical facilities, and office warehousing in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico. For the past 33 years, he has specialized in the management and operation of self storage facilities throughout North America. Robert is a past Trustee of the Florida Self Storage Association; Past Vice President of the SE Regional Self Storage Association, and the 2008 Chairman of The Self Storage Association. In 2018, Robert was inducted into The Self Storage Association Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the industry.
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