Newsletter for Spring 2011
May 2011 - Issue 13
In This Issue
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It seems that wherever we turn these days we're seeing headlines about privacy on the internet. Some of it has to do with hackers getting into "secure" servers and stealing data, but a lot of it is about our personal data being collected without our knowledge. Our first article addresses some of these issues.

Good sales and marketing practices are always important in self storage but never more so than in these distressing economic times. Some suggestions for adding more business by addressing the renters you already have make up our second article.

Do Not Track Is In The News
The latest is that both the IPhone and Google's Android phones are storing data that documents everywhere you go. We're not quite sure what is being done with that data but the possibilities are pretty much endless. In the internet industry, information about consumers is the new currency. And some people are starting to get concerned.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation did an investigative series called "What They Know" and said that the top 50 U.S. websites install on average 64 pieces of tracking technology onto user's computers. The information collected is supposed to be anonymous and used for targeted advertising. (When I searched online for a wool vest for my son-in-law for Christmas, not only did I not find what I wanted, but I had to put up with ads for vests popping up for months afterward.) But some applications have been found to be linking email addresses to this data or including details that could be used to link the data to a person.

If you're not the customer, you're the product. Google's search engine is free, right? And so is Yahoo's email. Well, maybe not. You may not be paying in dollars but in the new currency, information about yourself. The unspoken agreement is that in exchange for this "free" service they get to track your online activity; it's data for customized ads for sure, but sometimes it's also your age, race, household income, health concerns, political leanings, and so on and so on. And, once they have that information, it can be traded or auctioned off.

Mobile Stalking. GPS-equipped smart phones open up other privacy concerns. When you attend church, political meetings, bars, casinos, go skiing on a workday; all of that can be added to your personal data online. Services that offer coupons or points for users willing to broadcast their location give you some indication of how valuable this information is.

No secrets anymore. Could a potential employer find out that you spent a lot of time online researching skin cancer? Maybe. And might they refuse to hire you because of this? Maybe. If you tweet that you just got laid off, could your credit card raise your interest rates? How much information can health care providers access when you apply for a policy?

Do Not Track. Both Microsoft's updated Internet Explorer and Mozilla's new version of Firefox include a switch that gives users the option to select "Do Not Track." Turning on this switch means that you don't want your online activities monitored. However, this doesn't mean that you won't be monitored because ad companies don't have any legal obligation to follow your request. It's considered a step in the right direction though and some of the online advertising companies plan to announce that they honor Do Not Track preferences.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering a plan that would require online companies to honor your request. This would work much like the national Do Not Call registry. Congress, on the other hand, is looking at recommendations from the Commerce Department that would address the problem after personal data is collected, setting limits on what can be done with that data. And California is considering their own law in case the feds don't come through.

Disclosing your personal data, or some of your personal data, may be OK with you. You may decide that a free email account is worth it. But as technology improves and as more data is collected and combined and traded around, more and more people are thinking that we should understand the terms. What are we giving up for what we're getting? You can always choose to opt in but you should understand what the deal is and then make the decision for yourself.

What are the big players doing? Google's Chrome browser offers a downloadable extension that blocks the installation of many of the ad-tracking technologies. Yahoo says it is in discussions with the major web browsers to come up with, "commonsense solutions that protect user privacy while maintaining the free internet model." On the other hand, Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook stated in 2009 that, "the age of privacy is over."
Self Storage Marketing and Sales
Sell to the customers you already have. In the world of marketing, the easiest sale is a related item to an existing customer. That applies in self storage too. You can use Space Control's Group Letters to get the word out. They can be emailed, at no cost to you. Or print and mail them if you think that will make a better impression. Send them three or four times a year.

To Business Accounts, "Are you storing old business records, inventory, or literature in your office? Did you realize that office space in your area costs three times what storage costs? You could free up that valuable office space by moving some of that stuff to storage." Customers storing business records stay about 8-10 years, so it's well worth it to go after that business.

To Residential Customers: "At the bottom of this letter is a coupon with your name on it. Give it to a friend who needs storage. When they bring it in and rent here you will both get $20 off your rent."

To Past Customers: "When you need storage space again, don't forget that we've got a Returning Customer discount waiting for you."

If you're willing to give up some future income to get more money in your pocket right now, you could setup a Pay 12 Months and get the 13th Month Free discount. Email all your customers. "Would you like to save money? Get a month's free rent? Anytime you pay 12 months' rent in advance, we will give you a full month of storage at no charge."

Make the Move-in Quote a Sales Tool. When someone calls or comes in to inquire about renting, you can use the Space Control Move-in Quote (right click on a space on the Status Screen Price List or go to Utilities). Design a professional-looking piece with your company logo, the benefits of your facility, any specials you offer, etc. You can print or email the quote. You can select a future move-in date and get the exact move-in amount (especially important if you prorate to the first) including tax, insurance, Move-in Discount.

Follow up. When a potential renter comes in or calls you always get a name and telephone number, right? These days it's good to get an email address too. Then you can follow up. Add a Reminder to contact this prospect in the next day or two. Close the sale!
Do You Have Rent Plus or Taskmaster?
Since HiTech was purchased by CenterShift and Chamberlain decided to shut down PTI's Taskmaster, there are lots of storage facility owners and managers feeling abandoned and starting to panic about software to manage their business

Give us a call. We can convert your data and with Space Control, you get:
  • The BEST tenant ledger in the industry, with everything on a single screen.
  • Great Theft Prevention and industry-leading Audit Trails.
  • Foolproof data security.
  • Timely support.
  • Credit Card interface that meets newest PCI DSS regulations. Plus ACH.
  • Online.HQ and Online.PAY: Take payments through your web page. (optional)
  • Yield Management: Strategies to really increase your rental income. (optional)

So, if you have some Rent Plus or Taskmaster systems and want a more reliable, better-supported system, please give our sales rep, Gilbert Bohen, a call at 800-663-8688 or email GilbertBohen@SpaceControl.com.
Did you know?
That Space Control can keep track of potential renters who are waiting until you have a particular size available? If someone needs a BIG space and all of yours are rented you can add contact information to your Waiting List. It can be a new customer or someone who is already a renter. Then, when you move someone out of the size requested, the person who is waiting will show up on your Waiting List. You can store the date the space is needed, the size needed, as well as contact information and any special comments.

If renters tell you when they expect to move-out you can go to Account\Schedule Move-out to add their upcoming move-out date to their account. A list of these spaces is at the bottom of your Vacant Spaces report with the size and expected move-out date. You can use those projected dates to estimate availability for the Waiting List.

We're still working on our new Cloud based management system. Hope to have it out to you before the end of this year.

Ramona Taylor
Space Control Systems, Inc.

phone: 1-800-455-9055