Building Relationships: How they Enhance your Self-Storage Investment
By: Fred Paris, Vice President & Senior Advisor
People like to do business with people they like, and people like others who appreciate them. Someone may forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
The most powerful tool in developing relationships is to appreciate other people, and the two most powerful words in building a relationship are ‘Thank You’. The concept seems simple enough, but all to often people forget to invest in building the relationship and rush to discuss “the deal”.
There are small steps you can take when initiating the building of a relationship which pays off tremendously in the long run. From when I began my career in planning and economic development, and throughout my 18 years in commercial real estate I have relied on some key attributes of building successful business relationships:
- Authenticity – Be who you are and accept others as they are. It is incredibly transparent when you are working with someone and they are not being authentic. By definition being authentic comes from within. It is when our actions and words correspond with our beliefs and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be, and when you choose to add this to your business relationships it builds respect and trust.
- Mutual Respect – Be patient, attentive, truly engaged, and interested in the other person’s point of view. One of the best and easiest ways to show respect to the people you are working with is to get to know them on a deeper level. Take the time to listen and get to know their motivations and goals. At a professional or personal level, their goals will allow you to work more meaningfully as a team. You will also learn what the best way to communicate with them is and they will get to know you better as well.
- Be Personal – Show interest in the other person’s beliefs, family, leisure activities, etc. This can be achieved by focusing on two qualities: listening and sharing. If you truly listen to someone speaking, they know it. They feel it. Are you responding as they speak to show them you hear what they are saying? Especially when conducting business over the phone, it is necessary to respond appropriately to show you heard what was said. It’s also important to start sharing. A trusting relationship can grow because both sides are opening up. By sharing the relationship has the best opportunity for growth and future success. If you do not feel comfortable sharing personal information, that is fine, you can share your business knowledge and allow a connection to be developed, but sharing personal aspects of your life demonstrates the personal connection that is so important to fruitful relationships.
- Goals & Values – What are the other person’s business/personal goals and what values do they live by. We touched on this with mutual respect, but understanding someone’s values as they relate to their goals provides you with a better understanding of them and the decisions they make. A person’s values are what they find important in life and understanding if it is their family or their bank account makes a difference in how you build the relationship.
- Referrals – Be ready to offer contacts and referrals that fit the situation and don’t compromise your relationship with these people. Referrals are a reflection of you. When you refer someone, it helps to build trust but can also have the reverse effect. This is why it is essential to have a good network of business partners that you trust. You would never want a referral to hinder a relationship you are trying to build.
- Loyalty – This may be one of the most important traits a person can have for a long-term personal relationship. This trait seems to be less prevalent in today’s world, but may well be the most important one for securing a long-term relationship. Knowing that someone truly has your back often leads to the deepest and most trusting personal and business relationship. It is important not to confuse loyalty with longevity. It has nothing to do with the length of employment and everything to do with actions. Loyalty can be seen by people who work hard, are committed to success, and respect relationships that have been built with the right motives in mind.
When I entered the storage industry in 2014, I began to build my network of relationships. Over the past 6 years, I have maintained relationships with several self-storage owners that were among some of the first I contacted. They may not have had an interest in selling then, but I continued to build the relationship. Many have come back to me or became open to working with our company on acquiring their facilities. This is due to always being authentic, demonstrating mutual respect, showing interest in their personal values, and staying loyal to them over the years. I firmly believe that building personal relationships is the best investment you can make to enhance your opportunity for success in the self-storage industry.
Fred joined The Storage Acquisition Group in 2014 and specializes in finding facilities for acquisition in the Mid Atlantic and South. Fred currently serves as the company’s Vice President and a Senior Advisor.