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.”