Customers are asking for estimates. What do I say?

By Gavin Shields on
blog-covers-3-3.jpg

Find out why some leads call you asking for an estimate, what they're really after, and why it's time to put this sales model out to pasture.

If you are operating in an area where competitors are still running a quote or estimates processes, you may find that prospective customers will call you and, thinking that is just the way it works, will ask for an estimate. If you’ve just opened your facility and are showing prices online and letting people reserve units themselves, this can be a bit confusing and some Stora users have asked us what to do. I have also encountered the same thing at my own self storage facility business, StoreStuff.

First of all, it’s worth recognizing that the customer doesn’t really want an estimate - what they want to know is the price. They just use the term ‘estimate’ because that is the term that other operators have used with them.

Secondly, customers don’t really want to be doing this merry little dance searching for estimates at all. These are the same customers who can get instant prices for flights, hotels, spas, and almost anything else online, then go ahead and buy it. What they want is to quickly find a price that they know is competitive at a location that matches the quality and service they are looking for. Then they want to rent the storage they need with minimal fuss and maximum speed.

Lean In to Your Differentiator

Your customers will, on the whole, be pleasantly surprised to hear that you don’t require them to get in touch for an estimate. They’ll generally appreciate you for making their life easier. They will also trust you more because they can see that you aren’t trying to hide anything (in this case, prices!). So, what we find works well is to say something like this when they call asking for an estimate:

“Oh we don’t do estimates. We believe in making life as easy as possible for our tenants, so we don’t hide our prices. Instead, we openly show them on our website and even allow you to go ahead and rent your unit instantly online in seconds. If you find a cheaper price at a competitor, let us know and we will match it, though we tend to find that our prices are 10% lower than competitors because we are new and running lower prices to attract new customers. I’m happy to find a price for you though - what unit size were you looking at?”

(then go on to provide the price and, in our case, we try and complete the rental on the phone while the customer is there rather than suggesting they go back to the website to do it themselves).

It can be tempting to think of this the other way - 'Everyone else is providing estimates so I need to too'. Just keep in mind that the customer’s actual task is finding out the price and reserving a unit, and your approach (with Stora’s help) is the best and easiest way for them to complete that task.

Lean into that benefit and watch the sales accelerate.

What is an estimates process?

A quote or estimates process is where a self storage operator typically hides their prices on their website behind a contact collection form. The wannabe customer must fill in the form—typically handing over their name, email address, and telephone number—before they can see the prices.

Prices are often then shown and/or emailed to the customer who will typically then expect to receive a follow-up phone call and/or email from a salesperson. In some instances, prices still aren’t shown and are only disclosed on a telephone call or email to the customer.

An estimates process involves a significant time commitment from both the customer and staff, as manual steps are needed to disclose the price then take the reservation and payment details.

Should I run an estimates process in my self storage business?

Before the internet, an estimates process was how you booked almost anything like this (anyone remember how hard it was to book flights and/or hotels before the internet? Remember travel agencies!?). But, as soon as technology made it easy for these industries to let customers place reservations and pay online, every operator had to embrace it.

Why?

  1. By giving customers prices and the ability to rent online, you significantly enhance the customer experience and demand (and in turn, your prices increase, pushing up profits)
  2. By removing the need for staff to spend ~15-60 minutes dealing with every rental, operational costs are reduced significantly, also pushing up profits.

Over time, airlines, hotels, and almost anyone in any other similar industry who did not remove the quote process went out of business. My prediction? Now that tools like Stora make it easy to provide online rentals and payments, anyone not embracing this will become increasingly uncompetitive and will eventually go out of business.

So, short answer, no.

Want to know more about Stora?

We’ve built the world’s most customer-first self storage software platform in Stora, and we’re continually evolving it to be even more so. If you’d like to learn how Stora can help you sell online and focus more on growing your business, schedule your demo today.

Gavin Shields gavin.jpeg

Gavin Shields

Gavin Shields is the CEO at Stora, a provider of self storage automation software and services, as well as the MD & Owner of self storage operator, StoreStuff.

Linkedin Connect on LinkedIn

Want the latest articles sent to your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter today.