By Bill Hipsher, Director of Business Development
USstoragesearch.com started its Featured Listing program more than two years ago. The concept was requested and pitched by USstoragesearch members for many years before we launched it. When we finally made the decision to develop the service early in 2010 we had a few goals and “musts” if we were going to launch the program.
First, the Featured Listing product had to be equally accessible to all of our members. Why was this the first goal? Well the background, if you haven’t already heard it, is that just before we started USstoragesearch.com we were the managers of a small self storage facility in Omaha, NE. We struggled as a small facility with not having the marketing dollars to compete inthe dominate lead source of the time…the dreaded yellow pages. We couldn’t afford an ad that got us anywhere near the first few pages in the yellow pages listings. For several hundred dollars per month we had a 2×2, black and white ad on the 6th page. We had no way of knowing the value of the ad because we couldn’t afford a second phone line and this was before the days of tracking telephone numbers (which is very affordable today and something of great value that USstoragesearch.com offers if you aren’t using these today!). USstoragesearch.com was built to be equally beneficial to all storage operators, large or small. This is reflected in the way we still display search results and is goal #1 in every product we offer.
How did we meet goal #1? We created an affordable auction system that was open to all members on a city by city basis. Every member could pick the market most important to them and bid in an open auction environment. The auction works the same for every storage owner and opens at the same time for every USstoragesearch.com member. There is no priority placement, there is no early or late bidding – everyone is on a level playing field as they should be. The auction is visibly fair to every member. We also made the Featured Listings operate on a quarterly basis so there were plenty of opportunities for self storage operators to get a Featured Listing when they needed it most.
The second goal, the program had to operate on a pay-for-performance model. Why did we do this? Because we wanted to make sure that member facilities that participated in the auction paid only when they saw results. This is why the auction prices start at just $10 per market per month and the money bid to win an auction is refunded to members in $10 increments with each reservation. This means that if a member won the featured self storage listing in Chicago, for example, for $30/month they would only pay $90 for 3 months of being the Featured Listing and with each reservation USstoragesearch.com refunds $10 of the winning bid up to the total amount of the winning bid. Most members end up having all of their winning bids refunded by the end of each quarter!
Third, the program had to provide measurable results. Enter the USstoragesearch.com Call Center. All calls from the featured listing come into the USstoragesearch.com call center. Our experienced and professional self storage call center agents make reservations for the featured listing winners 24/7. We never miss a call and can tell each winning member exactly how many reservations have been made through their Featured Listing. Every call comes to USstoragesearch.com and is never outsourced to others. We personally ensure that each potential storage tenant receives the best customer service and are incentivized to do so since we only get paid when we make a credit-card secured storage unit reservation for you in our pay-per-reservation program.
Throughout its short lifetime, the Featured Listing program has been extremely successful and we have extended the reach of the Featured Listings by bringing in several partner sites who provide winning members with Featured Listings free of charge on their site too. You now get featured listings on more than 200 partner sites like StorageUnit.com and Storage.com when you win a Featured Listing on USstoragesearch.com.
When you win a Featured Listing you get the Featured Listing spot at the top of your city’s search result as well as all zip code search results within that city. The Featured Listing appears at the top and bottom of the search results and your facility receives a highlight in the regular search results so you don’t keep your normal search position too.
The 4th quarter is a vital time for many operators and managers. You need to make sure you finish the year out right and featured listings can help you do that. On average, Featured Listings have generated increases of 15% more listing views, 19% more phone calls and 24% more reservations vs. a standard reservation alone. These increases are not just do to the increased visibility but are due in large part to our Call Center agents’ ability to secure every possible reservation 24/7 (who answers your phones when the front door closes at night?).
The Featured Listing auction for the 4th quarter closes this Thursday, September 20th at 3 p.m. Central Time. If you need help or more information please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-866-880-0742.