As I was sitting down to watch the Miami Dolphins game a few weeks ago I received a phone call from a very good friend of mine. This friend of mine rented a unit at a local self-storage facility. This particular friend, who knows I work in the self-storage industry, wanted to ask a question in reference to access hours of a particular local facility. Now to preface this story, I live in a small town on the East coast of Florida, with an abundance of self-storage facilities. Like most areas of Florida, competition in the self-storage industry is fierce in my area. We all know that access areas vary greatly in our industry from office hours, to 6AM-10PM, to 24 hour access. Each self-storage facility has their own policy and procedures in regards to this. Even though this is true, I would like to highlight his story. His story goes something like this:
Around 5:50PM, he entered the facility to access his storage unit. While he was entering the facility the manager of the property came out and told him he only had 10 minutes to unload his items. According to the policy of this self storage facility access hours are reserved to office hours only. My friend stated that he only had a few items but it would take a little longer than 10 minutes to unload the items into his unit. The manager proceeded to tell him that the gate would close at 6PM and there was nothing she could do. He proceeded to leave, with his items, and return home. He then called me to vent on the situation and stated he would be looking for a new self-storage facility to utilize.
Now, to make things clear, I started my career in self-storage as a facility manager. I understand the demands, time constraints, and mental exhaustion that can occur from managing a self-storage facility. As a self-storage manager you are typically a bartender without alcohol. You hear about every issue, problem, domestic dispute, jailed family member, etc. In addition, contrary to popular belief, the customer is typically wrong. They either did not read their rental agreement or tuned you out as the facility policies were explained. Now in this particular situation my very good friend is very wrong. He obviously didn’t read the policies of the facility and that is his fault. Although it’s his fault let’s look at this from a business prospective:
When it comes to customer service, I allow all of my facility managers to stay late if the situation involves customer service. In a time when every rental counts, when there are 4 more competitors in your market than there were 3 years ago, and when revenue is being pushed down, customer service is the one area where you can make a difference. Sometimes it only takes 15 minutes.