Affiliate Spotlight: Sue and Robert Bennett of FranFinders
The Storage Industry is growing quickly as more and more investors realize the income potential locked inside. Today, we’re speaking with two successful storage owners who have managed to expand their business rapidly over the last couple of […]
Affiliate Spotlight: Sue and Robert Bennett of FranFinders
The Storage Industry is growing quickly as more and more investors realize the income potential locked inside. Today, we’re speaking with two successful storage owners who have managed to expand their business rapidly over the last couple of years, to learn how they found success and what tips they give for other storage owners who may want to follow their lead and expand into a larger organization.
Storage ownership is touted as a great revenue stream. You have the flexibility to be completely hands on in the day-to-day management of your facility or set your business up to mostly run itself. This is what makes the industry so versatile for so many different people, in different stages of their career. Starting in 2011, the Bennett’s, of FranFinders – a Franchise Consulting Firm, began their storage journey with the purchase of a single storage facility. This is when their professional relationship with WebSelfStorage began. Over the next several years, they grew their company and eventually brought on two more facilities to the U-Haul Self Storage Affiliate Network in 2017. “We needed a business [platform] that would offer multiple streams of revenue and this was one of the best businesses we discovered and jumped in!”, Robert Bennett explains. Beyond the standard storage rental income, you have the opportunity to make extra income each month using related sales items like moving supplies, tenant insurance, and becoming a U-Haul Neighborhood dealer. With the right mindset and the proper tools, the possibilities are endless!
However, running a single business on your own can be tough enough. Once you start expanding, the task of managing and tracking multiple businesses with multiple revenue streams can seem daunting. Now, in 2020, the Bennett’s have expanded even further having a total of 7 storage facilities under their belt, “We are really busy, as we initially started with just 100 units and now, we just surpassed over 400 units.” Additionally, the Bennett’s run all 7 of their storage locations remotely while they operate their main Franchise Consultancy firm, full-time. So just how exactly do they do it all?
WebSelfStorage has made large leaps when it comes to developing contactless and remote management options for affiliates, and it is something that we are continuing to grow and perfect. Between the implementation of our Rental Agreement eSignature options, which allow your tenants to sign their rental agreements online, and the Online Self-Move In options that have recently been implemented, storage owners can now operate their facilities remotely from anywhere in the United States and Canada (as long as you have internet connection, of course). We also have Contact Center services that can act almost as a full-time employee, performing move ins and taking payments over the phone, and answering facility questions any time a call comes into your facility. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable support staff are here to help you make the most out of your WebSelfStorage account, to help take the burden off of your shoulders and let the WebSelfStorage software do most of the heavy lifting for you. “We can manage our business operations effectively and remotely in three (3) different states. WebSelfStorage is the platform that allows us to process all of our payments efficiently, while providing great service to all our tenants.” Robert goes on to explain, “the [U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network] team provides us outstanding support as different situations arise in our business.
If you are a storage company looking to expand your organization, the Bennett’s give this piece of advice “Make sure you have enough capital to operate your facilities with top-notch service, while keeping your facilities in excellent condition. [Keeping] very little debt has [allowed us to] concentrate on serving our customers.” The U-Haul Self Storage Affiliate Network is eager to help our new and growing storage affiliates become stronger and more efficient using the large array of features and functions in the WebSelfStorage program. Call us any time to discuss opportunities for optimization in your WebSelfStorage account!
Being able to help customers on their schedule is an important task for any business. As customers demand more digital access to business information and services in order to help themselves, self-storage facilities are adapting to new ways […]
Being able to help customers on their schedule is an important task for any business. As customers demand more digital access to business information and services in order to help themselves, self-storage facilities are adapting to new ways of communicating with them.
Maureen Brown, owner of self-storage facilities in Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee, is embracing technology to provide better service to her customers. She has found an easy way for customers to access the remote move-in process WebSelfStorage offers while also enhancing their customer experience. She implemented a QR Code system that allows customers to scan the code and view her business information on uhaul.com. This way, the customer has the facility information and can perform a move-in to a unit after hours or make a reservation for a unit to move-in at a later date. Below she answers our questions regarding the process.
Question: How did the idea to use a QR code that links to your U-Haul online listing come about?
Maureen: In the past, I have used QR codes for dropbox payments. When someone arrives at the facility after hours, they can pay via phone to the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network Contach Center that we employ, or the tenant can scan the QR code and be taken to the payment website.
During these COVID-19 times, I have gone to several restaurants that no longer hand out menus but have a laminated paper with a QR code to access their menu online. I figured I could use the QR code on the front door of our office in the same manner. The only aspect that we debated was if we should also add a sign with the QR code at the keypad to the gate or keypads to the climate control buildings. For concerns about security, we figured we would roll out the QR code on our front door of the office only.
Question: Can you explain the set-up process for implementing the QR Code?
Maureen: To set up the QR code, I searched the internet for “Free QR code Generator,” and multiple website options appeared. Then, I navigated to my entity’s uhaul.com page and copied the address bar. I cut and pasted the entity’s U-Haul web address into the QR code generator. The generator returned an image that I downloaded and pasted on various signs.
For example, one of my facility’s website pages is https://www.uhaul.com/Locations/Self-Storage-near-Shelbyville-TN-37160/038385/. The QR code generator gave me this image:
With the QR code for the specific website landing page, I designed a 6” tall vinyl sign that I placed on the front door to my facility to simplify the process for Customers. The sign looks like this:
The final product is pictured below. You can also see the box of envelopes for payments to the right that reminds people they can pay online with another QR code that takes tenants to the www.uhaul.com/orders page.
Question: Is there any cost associated with setting this up?
Maureen: As for the cost to complete the work, the only out-of-pocket cost I paid was to www.Signs.com for the 6” tall by 30” wide vinyl window decal. That totaled $25.67 plus shipping and taxes. It took about a week from the day I ordered to receive the sign.
The QR code generator I picked was free. The design of the sign I did on my computer, though I think Signs.com has some design capabilities.
Question: Is there upkeep involved once it is implemented?
Maureen: I just implemented this at all of my locations this summer, so I do not know how many years the sign will last before it begins to fade or peel. However, since this is the same vinyl that I have used for office hours, phone numbers, business name [signs] I expect the banner will last many years. Some of my locations have a window washer who cleans the outside, and the banner and office hour vinyl are not harmed from the window washing.
Question: How has adding a QR link to your online listing changed or improved your customer service?
Maureen: The staff discusses this option with potential customers if the customers are having any difficulties getting to our location during office hours, want to set up the rental before they move to town, arrange the rental unit for their child when universities asked students to leave early for the summer, and in a variety of other customer scenarios that we try to accommodate. To help my staff feel more comfortable talking about the self move-in process and promote it to potential customers, I created a tutorial video. In my tutorial video, I rented a unit for myself at my location and recorded the computer screen while narrating what a tenant would see and experience. This was meant to help guide my staff in making customers feel comfortable about the process.
Question: How has this feature increased your online rentals?
Maureen: My largest location has had roughly 7 self move-ins since we implemented self move-in capabilities in March 2020 (average monthly move-ins for this location is 38 per month).
Additional Tips for Implementing QR codes at your facility
1. Set up your uhaul.com listing and available remote move-in units by calling the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network, and an Operations Coordinator will help you set up the features available to you.
2. Do your research. Maureen recalls, “I did some research on the self move-in process. I probably annoyed Tech Support with my questions, so I could educate my staff on what to expect and how to incorporate this with our normal systems and procedures.”.
3. Consider security at your location. Maureen explains, “I require disc locks at all my facilities. I think an owner or manager would need to know to place a disc lock inside the storage unit along with a tag on the latch. I use the numeric seals, similar to what is commonly used on auction units, so we know if the door has been opened and we enable that specific unit for Self Move-In in WebSelfStorage.
4. Keep things clean. Maureen describes, “For the operation side of the business, my staff has to routinely freshen up the drive-up units that are set up for remote move-ins since dust and debris may get inside, but this is not as much an issue for interior or climate control units.”. 5. Provide a map of the facility. Maureen offers maps of the location to assist in locating units after hours. She says, “For my climate control buildings, I have placed large, 24” x 36”, facility maps inside the entry/loading doors that assist tenants locating their storage units.”
Today having a brand name to recognize and trust is crucial in capturing the storage customer. The millennial generation is fueling this drive and becoming the most popular demographic in the moving and storage industry. This article will […]
Today having a brand name to recognize and trust is crucial in capturing the storage customer. The millennial generation is fueling this drive and becoming the most popular demographic in the moving and storage industry. This article will go over ways that you can brand your business in order to appeal and attract to all potential storage customers.
Online Presence: The first thing consumers are doing when searching for any business is going on the internet. Getting customers in the door and renting at your facility is the ultimate goal. How can you take advantage of the World Wide Web and fill your rooms online? There are many different marketing opportunities that can be utilized within the U-Haul network; such as advertising your business on Uhaul.com. Utilizing your uhaul.com page to its full potential can help fill your rooms and increase your brand awareness. Uhaul.com is the most widely searched website in the moving industry, with over 6 million hits per year! As a storage affiliate, you are able to market your facility online and increase your occupancy, all from uhaul.com. It is also important to have your own website to advertise so customers can find you locally. WebSelfStorage Business Platform offers a free API to integrate your real time inventory right into your website. The best of both worlds!
Truck Rentals: Become the all in one moving solution that customers can go to and trust during their time of need. Having truck rentals at your facility is a great supplement to your business while accommodating your customers needs. Not only can a storage facility become a U-Haul dealer to rent out trucks, Dealer Affiliates utilizing WebSelfStorage gain access to our unique advertising vans to market their business. Through the program, Affiliates receive a brand-new van that is imaged on three or four sides with their business’ name, logo, web address and/or location address, phone number and any promotional specials. This acts as a rolling billboard that helps Affiliates promote their self-storage brand within the local community. In the meantime, the van, like any other U-Haul vehicle, earns a rental commission each time that it’s used.
Social media: Since 2004, social media has been growing exponentially and it hasn’t reached the peak of its popularity yet. There’s no denying that social media platforms are now a major source of news and information. But that’s not all. Social media platforms are unique in the way they interact with customers. Not only do they provide a platform for users to communicate beyond local and social boundaries, but they also offer countless possibilities to share user-generated content, like photos and videos. 49% of consumers claim that they depend on influencer recommendations on social media to inform their purchasing decision (Fourcommunications, 2018). This means that if consumers feel confident in the recommendation from an influencer, they’ll be more likely to store at your business.
Ask for Reviews: There is a reason why reviews are valued by businesses everywhere. They can be the difference between gaining and losing potential customers. On Average, 8/10 consumers look at the reviews before doing business somewhere. Millennials especially, are review driven through social media and other online platforms. On uhaul.com, your customers can share their experience with other customers. Remind customers that they can review their move-in and move-out experiences after completing either. This will help create a trustworthy reputation for your business.
Customer Service. This starts with your manager and or alternative way for customers to be able to interact with your facility. Creating positive relationships and experiences with your customers is paramount in earning their long term business. If you are unmanned or have limited staff, the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network offers a contact center where you will have hundreds of full time employees 24/7! Never miss a call or potential rental. Online account management on uhaul.com gives customers the ability to manage their unit from any device, anywhere. This will enable them to remotely manage their unit which ultimately creates a more convenient experience for your customers.
At times, executing all the correct
methodologies to create a brand for your business can be timely and
costly. That is why partnering with a
brand name like U-Haul will only help your credibility and exposure. Having access to “Big Business” resources
enables you to create an ultimate brand for your facility and help build your
reputation. Using these methods in this
article can help give you a leg up on the competition in this brand driven
Remote Move-Ins: The Online Advantage to Filling your Rooms
Whether your facility is fully staffed seven days a week, partially, or completely unmanned, having an online rental option can only serve to increase your occupancy. Now more than ever, consumers are looking for ways to minimize human […]
Remote Move-Ins: The Online Advantage to Filling your Rooms
Whether your facility is fully staffed seven days a week,
partially, or completely unmanned, having an online rental option can only
serve to increase your occupancy.
Now more than ever, consumers are looking for ways to
minimize human contact when transacting business. In that regard, Covid-19 has
magnified an already growing trend in the self-storage industry, the need to
Perhaps you think the only consumers who would rent a storage
unit online are younger people, in their 20s. Maybe your own customer base is
largely older adults or Seniors.
I’ve got news for you!
Millennials are not the only demographic who buy online! 68%
of Americans make an online purchase at least once a week, and according to
Inside Self Storage, “71% of consumers start their buying journey with a web
The success of Amazon has changed the way Americans purchase
items and services. You may already have a website. You may be advertising your
business on a storage aggregator, like Sparefoot. But advertising is a one-way street
of communication. Accepting reservations is a great way to open a dialogue with
potential customers. Allowing online move ins, though, is the pinnacle of
The WebSelfStorage Business Platform has been advertising our
partner locations on uhaul.com for over 15 years, with the ability to capture
customer reservations and send them to our affiliates. In early 2019 we
introduced a “Rent Now” feature, allowing our partners to list individual units
on the site for remote move in capability.
Providing customers with the ability to choose the unit or
space that fits their needs, make payment, and most importantly, sign a rental
agreement electronically, will place your self-storage facility above the rest.
Our Remote Move In feature works from a smart phone, iPad, PC or Mac, and can
generate whatever rental agreement or contract you’re currently using.
Not only can remote move-ins help fill your rooms, it can
also help keep them occupied. Consumers who rent online (and therefore pay by
credit card) are more likely to enable Autopay during the move-in process.
Customers on Autopay rent 40% longer than non-autopay customers. They are also
statistically less likely to go into delinquency, saving you time, money and
energy on collection calls and late notices.
Technology such as this is a great benefit to your business,
but it is also just one tool in your business arsenal. Remember that great
customer service will always go the extra mile, so when you receive that online
reservation, reach out and call that customer as soon as possible and let them
know you’re expecting them. If you receive an online rental, call and introduce
yourself, find out what they’re planning on storing. Tenants often don’t
realize how much they have. Take that opportunity to turn one rented unit into
two. Or a 10×10 into a 20×30!
A great web presence on the most widely used website in
America for moving and storage, the ability to receive online reservations in
real time, and remote, touchless move-ins with eSignature and built in payment
processing. It’s easy to see why WebSelfStorage and the U-Haul Self-Storage
Affiliate Network is the best choice out there, at the best possible value!