How we do it
Our sophisticated operations platform
We have invested significantly to develop a sophisticated and scalable management platform that provides centralised services and support across the portfolio. This offers economies of scale and cost efficiencies.
Our web-based tenant management system provides real-time information on the operating and financial performance of each property. The system has a unique built-in customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This tool enables all enquiries to be logged and tracked until closed, with management able to remotely monitor employees’ efforts in this process. On average, more than 6 500 enquiries are recorded and followed up every month.
Pricing is dynamic and varies according to unit size, demand, the stage of lease-up, and location. Internal space across all properties can be reconfigured to produce variations of unit sizes in order to meet the demand profile and optimise the revenue streams from the property.
Operationally, Stor-Age consists of two elements: systems and people. Our approach to each is summarised below:
Systems, including processes, controls and responsibilities
- Defined in operating standards across the business to ensure consistency and continuously updated for improvements in operating capability
- Increasing use of technology and automation for continuous improvement and improved efficiency
- Strategic focus from inception
- Significant emphasis on recruiting the right people and training, developing and managing employees to achieve their highest potential
- E-learning platform, Edu-Space, complements key face-to-face learning programmes
- Incentivise outperformance at all levels
Developing our brand strength
Developing Stor-Age into the leading South African self storage brand has been a key strategic objective since inception. We have successfully achieved this through our focus on the location, visibility and quality of our properties, underpinned by excellent customer service and a leading online platform.
Our brand strategy is founded on big branding at properties in high-visibility locations on key arterials in densely populated residential suburbs with adjacent commercial and business corridors. Our Big Box properties are especially impactful in this regard.
Given the innate complexity and cost of online sales, our effective and innovative internet technology and digital marketing have enhanced our brand reach across our growing national and local store base, and allow us to spread our marketing costs over a growing platform. This has further raised the barrier to entry to competition.
Leading sales, marketing and e-commerce
We continue to innovate and improve the customer experience through ongoing review and refinement of our digital and in-store customer touchpoints. This process results in a cohesive brand experience for our customers, cementing loyalty and increasing sales.
Through ongoing management and optimisation of our online platform, we maintained our leading ranking for the most popular searched terms related to self storage. We executed a strategy to hyper-segment our potential customer userbase and deliver customised messages across various digital channels. This relevancy-based and targeted strategy enabled us to create bespoke advertising media (video, animations and static images) that directed users to customised landing pages relevant to their current in-market behaviour. The ongoing roll-out across all marketing mediums is supported by a number of larger regional and store-based activations.
As an accredited Google and Facebook partner, we benefited from access to their technical and creative teams to strengthen and present optimal messaging to the relevant audience on the platform where they are most active.
Our interactive and responsive website is continually refined and updated. This enables ongoing traction and encourages web prospects to enter into our digital sales funnel and be converted into a sale.
As a significant percentage of total web enquiries originate from smartphones and tablets, our website is accordingly designed to be simple and uncluttered.
Our e-commerce platform comprises an online reservation system, live customer engagement and a real-time pricing module. This enables our online customers to seamlessly transition from obtaining a quote to moving in – thereby enhancing their user experience and reducing move-in time for improved productivity.
We continue to innovate and find different ways of using data analytics to acquire customers, enhance revenue and reduce our operating expenses, while providing a high-quality experience for our customers.
A smartphone-driven on-boarding process has been in development for the past 18 months. This new process will help us achieve a paperless in-store operating environment.
The operational strength and local market knowledge of Storage King’s management team has successfully been complemented by our digital marketing and e-commerce expertise.
Contact centre performance
During the year, we developed and implemented a digital marketing strategy for Storage King resulting in a 60% increase on advert clicks, a 200% increase in referral conversations and a tenfold increase in blog traffic, which has driven a valuable uptick in overall enquiries in the UK market.
Social media remains a key advertising, consumer engagement and CRM medium for the group. We are mainly active on Facebook (92 800+ followers as at 31 March 2019, ranking us as the fourth most followed self storage business in the world) and Instagram, but also on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. Through specific call-to-action buttons, we are able to engage with our customers in real time.
Our well-established, active, online brand personality and presence play a crucial role in maintaining Stor-Age as the top-of-mind choice for a space solution.
We further use our social media presence and influence to support various community projects. This includes supporting the Santa Shoebox Project and assisting with disaster recovery in the communities in which we operate, such as those affected by the Wupperthal and Overstrand fires recently – read more about this here. Refer to the social sustainability section for additional detail on our other corporate social investment initiatives.
The Stor-Age website, whether accessed by desktop, tablet or smartphone, accounts for 65% of all enquiries. The telephone accounts for 21% of enquiries as the first point of contact. Walk-in enquiries, where we have had no previous contact with a customer, account for 14%.
Measuring customer satisfaction
We measure customer service standards through our Mystery Shopper programme, Google reviews and customer satisfaction surveys using our in-house My Experience Surveys portal.
The mystery shopper programme entails in-store visits, and telephone calls, to gauge the quality of our sales process. The scoring of each call focuses on customer satisfaction, closing the deal and the flow of the call according to the Stor-Age sales process. This ensures we maintain a consistent user experience across our brand.
We continue to actively engage with customers on all digital review platforms including, but not limited to, Google business reviews. Through various engagement tactics, we stimulate these reviews to both drive organic search performance and to foster brand credibility. We are encouraged by our average review rating of 4.54 out of 5.
We continued to use the NPS as a key measure of our customers’ overall perception of the brand and received over 3 800 responses to these surveys. The welcome survey received a response rate of 7.4%, while the exit survey response rate was 14.1%. To further improve these response rates, we have incorporated the completion of the NPS feedback survey into our move-in and move-out process.
Our overall NPS for the year was 69,* indicating that our customer-centric approach is excellent when compared to global NPS standards and other consumer-facing businesses.
Results and feedback from our customer satisfaction surveys drive our employee learning, development and training programme – read more about this here.
|*||Above 50 is “excellent” and above 70 is considered “world class”.|
Stor-Age has a flat operational structure that recognises our store-based teams as pivotal to achieving our strategic objectives. This includes driving occupancy, revenue and cash flow growth in the portfolio. To foster a partnership culture within the business, management spends significant time at the properties and is accessible to all employees.
Our learning, development and training programme, delivered online and in person, develops core and soft skills to promote individual advancement. A performance management system supports this through regular appraisals and feedback sessions.
Investment in a leading e-learning platform in 2017 (Edu-Space) continues to provide additional benefits to the business, such as increased flexibility, efficiency and productivity, as well as reduced costs. To support Edu-Space, during the year, we engaged LinkedIn Learning as an on-demand e-learning resource to enable continued learning for senior managers and functional teams.
To enhance management’s planning capability, we introduced a formal management committee (manco) structure. Strategic planning is now implemented through quarterly meetings of the manco, where key objectives and goals are identified.
Ensuring secure storage
We aim to provide the ultimate in secure storage. This includes ensuring our customers’ peace of mind when it comes to their personal security and the security of their possessions.
As part of our security measures, we perform weekly and month-end padlock counts of every storage unit at our properties. This is a digitised process in South Africa, where the status of each unit (occupied, vacant, overlocked in the case of a debtor) is recorded by the store’s operating manager on tablets using a web-based application developed internally. The reconciliation of the padlock count to the tenant management system is automated and produces an exception report. An additional feature enables senior management visiting our stores to perform synchronised counts that overlap with existing reports. This ensures transparency and accuracy of results. In addition, the system significantly boosts employee efficiency.
Since the digital padlock reconciliation was rolled out, more than 5 000 counts have been performed for more than 2.5 million units.
Access to our properties is automated and requires personal verification. Strategically located cameras provide CCTV surveillance, which is bolstered by alarm systems and electrified perimeter fencing, as well as infrared beams at certain stores.
In an effort to enhance physical security features, we embarked on a process of developing our own bespoke door alarm and monitoring system. All newly developed properties are fitted with this system, with a total of six stores now fully operational.
In addition, we are working with a third-party remote monitoring security company to introduce both remote monitoring of our security camera surveillance systems as well as licence plate recognition technology at both new and existing stores. These systems are considered complementary to our existing systems and improve our ability to actively manage our on-site security infrastructure. Properties have been selected based on an internal risk matrix which takes into account various property and operational related features at each store in the portfolio. At year end, 19 properties were fitted with these systems with an additional five properties in progress.
Enhancing our cyber security
In response to the global increase of ransomware and other cyber security attacks, we continue to enhance our layered network security systems to strengthen defences.
We have partnered with reputable, specialist service providers to ensure continued cyber security measures are maintained at the highest level. Together with a cloud-based approach for essential services, our information communication and technology objectives of employing effective redundancy measures, enhancing security and ensuring continuity, remain strategic priorities.
Our external and internal users are continuously monitored to ensure the most effective use of resources and to limit opportunities to breach the company’s cyber defences. Our cyber security strategy, suppliers and network design are reviewed regularly to stay abreast of leading best practice and remain relevant in the use of technology.