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SpareFoot Finds a Sporting Way to Raise Funds
The self storage industry as a whole prides itself on the long-standing relationships companies and facilities have formed in their communities with various charities and non-profit organizations. SpareFoot, an Austin-based startup company known in the self-storage industry for their leading web marketing solutions, is no exception to that trend.
Recently, SpareFoot employees participated in the Austin Startup Olympics. The first-ever (but soon to be annual) event of its kind in the Austin area, the Startup Olympics invited eight local startup companies to participate in a series of “sporting” events to help support a local charity of their choosing. The event was designed to promote not just community fundraising in the Austin area, but innovation as well.
In placing third overall, SpareFoot employees raised $250 for Kure It Cancer Research. The company then doubled that amount to increase the donation to $500.
“When I heard about what Kure It [was] doing, I wanted to find a way to help,” Mario Feghali, SpareFoot Co-Founder and COO, said. “They’ve kept a focused effort on a big problem. For those who have lost a loved one to renal cell carcinoma or any type of cancer, it’s easy to feel helpless and lose hope. But I know that our contribution to Kure It will help those families and individuals dealing with kidney disease.”
The five-hour competition included fun-filled games/activities like Foosball, Flip Cup, Ping Pong, Connect Four, Darts, Shuffleboard and Pop-a-Shot as well as featuring an obstacle course; making the day fun for all while raising much needed funds for Kure It to continue its research in kidney cancer and other under recognized (and underfunded) malignancies.
“We’re excited to share Kure It’s mission with a new audience, and grateful to SpareFoot for including us in such a unique fundraiser,” said Kure It Founder Barry Hoeven.
“The support Kure It receives through our self-storage partnerships plays a key role in our efforts to fund research,” added Kure It Director Karen Jones. “We hope this event will not only get the word out about Kure It’s mission, but inspires other companies and industries to participate in similar clever fundraising efforts.”
About Kure It
Kure It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise money for research specialists conducting innovative projects to better treat and ultimately cure kidney and other cancers. Founded by self-storage industry veteran Barry Hoeven after his diagnosis with kidney cancer, Kure It has raised over $1 million, and currently supports research being done at Cedars-Sinai and City of Hope. www.kureit.org
SpareFoot is the world’s largest search engine for consumers to find, compare and reserve self-storage units online. The company also offer a suite of web marketing tools to help storage facility operators effectively reach modern customers. These include effective advertising network listings, a local SEO solution and a complete website builder. http://sparefoot.com
SpareFoot Launches New Tool For Self-Storage Companies Without Websites
AUSTIN, Texas – Dec 1, 2011 – SpareFoot, provider of leading web marketing tools to the self-storage industry, announced the launch of its newest product, SiteBuilder. Designed to simplify everything about creating and maintaining an effective self-storage company website, SiteBuilder helps storage operators compete to win increasingly web-dependent consumers.
Facility clients get a customizable, easy-to-update website that’s proven to convert visitors into tenants. Users upload their facility logo and photos, and customize brand messaging. SpareFoot’s intuitive content management system (CMS) makes it easy to make changes anytime, without having to call in the expensive web developer or designer. Storage companies may even point a new or existing custom domain address to their SiteBuilder page.
SiteBuilder websites feature all the details consumers are looking for when they search for storage on their computers and smart phones. The tool integrates seamlessly with storage facilities’ existing management software to keep unit pricing, amenities and available inventory up-to-date. With complete performance analytics, facilities can track website visits, phone calls and online reservations. Self storage companies can even listen to raw feedback from local consumers through recorded calls and complete call statistics.
The tool joins GeoPages, SpareFoot’s local search supplement for facility operators who already have websites. The company’s flagship AdNetwork product grants facilities highly visible, search-able listings on SpareFoot.com, SelfStorage.com and over 50 other high-traffic partner sites that serve storage and moving needs.
“Every self-storage company needs a website, an online headquarters,” SpareFoot Co-founder and CEO Chuck Gordon said. “Our web experts designed SiteBuilder to be the best affordable turnkey solution. It modernizes your business, so you can reach and convert new tenants.”
Through its products, SpareFoot aims to evolve the storage industry by making the world of web marketing more accessible to facility owners and managers. Learn more about SiteBuilder here: http://www.sparefoot.com/business/facilities/sitebuilder.html.
SpareFoot is the largest online marketplace for self-storage, making it easy for consumers nationwide to find, compare and reserve storage units online. The company also offers a suite of leading web marketing tools for storage facility operators. SpareFoot is an Austin-based start-up backed by Silverton Partners, FLOODGATE and Capital Factory. For more information, please visit http://www.sparefoot.com.
A Simple Transition
Moving to another home can be an expensive process, even if you’re not heading across the country. When you are forced to move and have limited time and money to get the packing done, your stress level can go through the roof. Here are some tips to help you move affordably, allowing you to make a successful transition into your new home.
The first lesson is to be prepared for anything. This means having more on hand than you really think you’ll need. In particular, this includes having plenty of boxing tape, a few extra box cutters and loads of boxes. Stock up on bags; keep a container of markers handy. Sheets are great for wrapping items and a handcart will save your back. Lastly, keep a toolset handy and you will be ready to go.
In the even that you will be putting items in storage, add a few extra things to your list. Mousetraps will protect your belongings, as will moth balls. You also might consider adding air fresheners so your items don’t pick up that musty smell. Newspapers are a cheap way to wrap fragile items. Stock up on these items and you are prepared to begin the packing.
There’s nothing worse than searching through boxes without labels. Spare yourself the misery by taking the time to label items as you go. It doesn’t matter if its extra soap for the bathroom or your fine wedding china. Label the items to make your life easier when you arrive in the new home. Mark what’s in the box, what room it will go in, how heavy the box is and whether or not it is fragile.
You might also want to consider using a scaling system to mark your boxes as they are packed. Items with a number one would be considered very important and should be opened first, items that are labeled as low as a number ten could be left indefinitely.
Nothing helps you get organized at your new home like a well-planned inventory list. You don’t want to toss something on the packing side and then waste time searching for it when you are unpacking. Make the inventory list before packing even begins so you can be sure you don’t forget to pack something. Mark every box on the inventory sheet so you will know that all the boxes arrive safely. Make a note of items you decide to donate or throw out so you won’t forget and search for them later. This step is time-consuming but can save a great deal of frustration later.
If you are moving in town you can recruit friends to help you on the big day. As soon as you decide to move you should start talking to friends and relatives who have big vehicles and might be willing to help. If necessary, rent a truck or hire a moving van. The vehicles should be lined up well in advance so you are not left scrambling to transport items on moving day. Remember that the more people who come with vehicles, the fewer trips back and forth you will have to make.
Ask for Help
This isn’t to say you should hire professionals, but your friends are probably willing to help and you should let them. The chore will go faster, you will have less physical strain on your body and they can help ease some of the anxiety that goes with moving. They can help you pack, label and unpack. The key is to make sure that everyone is using the same labeling method and you will be in great shape when you arrive at your new home.
Following these steps can take most of the stress out of packing. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and with this advice it can be a little less of a dreaded chore.
The Day After Memorial Day is the Self Storage Equivalent of Retail’s ‘Black Friday’, Dubbed ‘Crazy Tuesday’
PhoneSmart to Give Away Free Hawaii UnConference Registration
StorageMart to Give $5,000 in Scholarships for ScholarSmarts Program
Your Customers Would Love to Talk to You, If Only You Knew How to Talk to Them
Tron Jordheim, PhoneSmart Hawaii Un-Conference leader and COO of the PhoneSmart Off-Site Sales Force.
I travel a lot to see our PhoneSmart clients and to attend trade shows, events and conferences. Even with web conferencing, video chat and the ease of text and email, people still like to get together in person to network, learn and socialize. As a matter of fact, we even created our own PhoneSmart event, our PhoneSmart Hawaii un-Conference, as a way to connect with more clients and friends in the industry.
I was traveling to a self storage association event recently and went to pick up my Hertz rental car from the Hertz center. As you walk in the door to the rental center you pass a row of self service kiosks, where you can check yourself in and get your car assignment. Whoever designed the rental center clearly took the time to position the kiosks so people would walk by them first. The kiosks looked inviting and gave the appearance of being easy to use.
I like using self service for some things. When I fly on American Airlines, I usually check myself in. I fly with them so much that I know all the routines and all the ins and outs. The self check-in process is easy. When I fly on an airline I use less often, I usually go to the counter and talk to a real person, just to make sure I have everything covered.
I have discovered the RedBox for DVD rentals in my local grocery store. It is a great service. My family and I decide we want to see a movie that has only been out a short time. I go online and order the movie in about a minute. It takes about 30 seconds to use the RedBox to pick up the DVD while I am grocery shopping. We enjoy the movie. I drop it off in the morning when I stop to get my morning coffee. Easy to do.
But self service is not the best for everything.
Let’s go back to my experience at the Hertz rental car location. I usually don’t rent from Hertz, so I thought I’d go to the counter and talk to the rep, just to make sure I got everything straight and got the vehicle I wanted. There was quite a line at the counter and there were several reps helping other customers. But I noticed something interesting. No one was using the self service kiosks.
I watched what was happening for a while. The reps behind the counters were all friendly and were chatting a little with each customer they helped. I watched some more. There must have been five or six people behind me, another three or four in front of me and the line was not moving very quickly. Finally one guy stepped out of line and went to the kiosk. He put his credit card or his driver’s license through the swiper. I couldn’t tell which he was using from my angle. He started using the screen. A few minutes passed and he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, turned around and got back in line.
Something in his transaction could not be handled by the kiosk. Something he needed could not be accomplished at the kiosk.
Why is it then that I and a zillion other people love using the RedBox Kiosk to rent a DVD movie, but no one renting a car that day at Hertz wanted to use the self service kiosk?
The lesson is that there are transactions that lend themselves well to self service and others that do not. Low value, uncomplicated, often repeated transactions lend themselves well to self service. This is why ATM machines and online banking do so well for the banking industry. If all the customer needs is to check an account balance, withdraw a little cash, or move funds from one account to another there is no reason to see the teller. There is no value to the customer or the business to have a personal interaction for such a simple transaction.
New purchases or infrequent transactions are not well suited for self service. Renting a storage unit is not a low value, uncomplicated, often repeated transaction. There is tremendous value to both the customer and the business by having that rental be a personal transaction. Most storage customers have never rented storage before. If they have, it may have been several years ago. New customers have questions and concerns. Dealing with these questions and concerns personally educates new customers and assures new customers about their decisions to store. This process increases the likelihood of a successful storage experience, increases the likelihood of a longer stay, and helps to generate referral and repeat business.
There is a tremendous value to new customers created when they deal with someone personally who is friendly and helpful. Most people are storing during a stressful time in their lives. They are often storing things that are near and dear to them. Studies and surveys continue to show that people like to do business with people who they like and who they feel pay proper attention to them.
There also a tremendous value to the business by having a good personal interaction with new customers. If a storage rental was worth two dollars, if would probably not be worth the time, effort and expense of creating a personal transaction. But a storage rental might easily be worth $500 or $1,000 in revenue. And as you know, the asset value of your storage property is based on a multiplier of revenue. Therefore one new rental could easily create an additional $10,000 in asset value. I would hope that you’d agree with me that a $10,000 transaction should not be left to chance. It should be handled personally and handled well.
Some storage operators think they can save payroll dollars by using a kiosk and by trying to drive new rental transactions to their websites. Yes there are people who prefer to do their research and make their buying decisions on line. And there will be some people who will use a kiosk to rent a unit. But this math does not make sense. If a new rental is worth $10,000 in asset value, an employee does not have to rent very many units to pay for their salary. I guarantee you that an employee who knows how to talk to people will outsell a kiosk or a website a hundred to one.
The attempt to make self storage a self service purchase is very short sighted and may end up costing some people their businesses. If your nearest competitor is trying to do all its new business online and with a kiosk, and you are trying to train, coach and motivate your real people to do a better job at sales and customer service, your business will beat the competitor in every measurement category you can think of. Your friendly, helpful store employee, coupled with PhoneSmart’s friendly, helpful call center reps working as back-up will out perform your automated competitor had over fist.
Why? Because people like to do business with people who are friendly and helpful. People like talking to people who know how to talk to them. So your wiser investment would be to help your staff become great at talking to people. How do you do it?
- The realization. Realize that your most important job is talking to people. Yes all the other aspects are important. But nothing is more important than talking to people. It doesn’t matter what you are talking about…just talk to people. A customer coming in to complain is as good as a customer coming in to pay you a compliment. Talking about the weather with a customer is as good as talking about how to pack dishes do they won’t break. You should seek out conversations. When you take a payment at the counter, start a conversation. When you see a customer on the property, start a conversation. When you are talking to someone on the phone about a new rental, don’t just give information or ask for the reservation, start a conversation.
- Listen well. A conversation only works when you listen well. Listen for your customer’s concerns. Listen for your customer’s experiences. Listen for their pain. Listen for their joy. Try to intentionally spend 70% of your conversation listening. Then talk about what you heard.
- Ask good questions. You get people talking so you can listen to them by asking good questions. Who, what, when, where, and why are all very good friends. Use them often to find out more about what your customer is talking about. Use them to find out your customer’s feelings and state of mind.
- Relate their experiences to you own. If you experienced something similar or knew someone who felt the same way, share that. It helps make the conversation more meaningful and genuine. Remember this conversation is not about you. It is about your customer. It is about how you understand where the customer is coming from and how that customer feels. Remember to listen 70% of the time.
- If you have a solution relating to storage, offer it. Sometimes buying some boxes, learning how to pack better or renting a second unit will go a long way to help people get better organized, take something stressful off of their to-do lists, or just gain a little peace of mind. When you hear something in the conversation and it seems natural to offer a solution, then offer it. But be real. Buying a box will not solve every problem.
To recap, realize that talking to people is the most important part of your job. Listen carefully to what people are saying and how they are saying it. Ask some good questions to get people talking and to find out more about what they are saying. Relate their experiences to your own, so they know you understand them. When it flows naturally into the conversation, offer them a solution you provide to help them make their lives easier and better.
So the point of this whole story is to convince you that your time and money are best spent helping your people get great at talking to people. PhoneSmart is glad to help you with that. Our call center reps will do a great job talking to your callers and helping you rent more units. Our training and coaching staff will do a great job helping your people sound great and feel great when talking to your customers and your rental inquiries. You can find out more about our services at www.phone-smart.info .
If you want to talk to some really great and interesting people from the storage industry, join us June 7-11, 2011 at the PhoneSmart Hawaii Un-Conference on the beautiful Big Island. I guarantee you that people there will want to talk to you and hear about your experiences too. More information is at www.phonesmart-hawaii-unconference.com.
PhoneSmart Sponsors MiniCo Free Self Storage Webinar Series
Joe Kormos of Canadian Storage Centres Inc wins a free registration to the PhoneSmart Hawaii Un-Conference
Extra Space Management Plus Sponsors the PhoneSmart Hawaii Un-Conference