Collection calls don’t make anyone happy. The caller doesn’t enjoy being the bad guy and the delinquent customer doesn’t enjoy being embarrassed. This is easily solved by prompt payments, but that doesn’t always happen. When customers are facing a situation like the current economic downturn, money is tight and payments are sometimes late.
As a self storage owner or operator, you know that dealing with delinquent tenants can be a stressful task. However, mastering the art of collection calls can make all the difference in running a successful and profitable self-storage facility.
Whether you’ve been a self storage owner for decades or only a few months, Pinnacle Storage Managers has some tips for handling collection calls like a pro. From staying organized to being empathetic, these tips will help you confidently manage difficult conversations.
Approach Collection Calls with Professionalism and Tact
It’s essential to handle collection calls professionally to maintain positive relationships with your tenants. When customers fall behind on payments, they may feel embarrassed or frustrated. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy. Your tone of voice, choice of words, and overall demeanor can determine the result of the conversation.
The main focus of your collection calls is to help you recover overdue payments. On the other hand, they can help you maintain good relationships with your tenants. A customer who feels respected will be more likely to continue renting from you. On the other hand, a poorly handled collection call can damage your reputation and lead to negative reviews or legal action.
Strategy 1: Build a Rapport with Your Customer
Take the time to establish a connection and show empathy for your tenant’s situation. Start by introducing yourself and explaining the reason for your call. Make sure to use a friendly and professional tone of voice that conveys your desire to help.
Next, ask the customer how they’re doing and listen carefully to their response. This shows that you care about their well-being and will establish trust. If they express frustration or anxiety, acknowledge their feelings and offer reassurance that you’re there to help find a solution.
This strategy can help you maintain positive relationships with your tenants, even during difficult times.
Strategy 2: Communication Should be Clear and Concise
Explain the situation in a straightforward manner and use simple language that the customer can understand. Never be condescending or patronizing. Avoid using technical jargon or confusing terminology that may make the situation more stressful for the customer.
Make sure to be specific about the amount owed, the due date, and any fees or penalties that may apply. Be prepared to answer any questions the customer may have. It’s critical to provide them with all the information they need to make a plan for payment.
This can help avoid misunderstandings or confusion that may lead to further delays.
Strategy 3: Offer Flexible Payment Options
When dealing with delinquent tenants, it’s important to remember that everyone’s financial situation is different. Some customers may be able to pay the full amount owed, while others may need more time or a payment plan.
Offering flexible payment plans can help customers feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to make payments. For example, you can offer a payment plan that allows the customer to pay in installments over a period of time. Another option might be to waive late fees if the customer agrees to a specific payment schedule.
Make sure to be clear about the terms and conditions of the plan, and get everything in writing. This can help avoid misunderstandings or disputes down the line.
Overall, offering flexible payment plans can be a win-win. It can help you recover overdue payments while maintaining positive relationships.
Strategy 4: Use Positive Language and Emphasize the Benefits of Paying
Avoid negative or accusatory language that may make the customer defensive or resistant. Instead, focus on the positive outcomes of paying, such as avoiding late fees or maintaining a good credit score.
Take time to express gratitude for any payments the customer has already made. If the customer is hesitant to make a payment, try to address their concerns. It helps to offer reassurance that you’re willing to work with them to find a solution.
Strategy 5: If Necessary, Escalate the Call
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, a collection call may not be successful in recovering overdue payments. In these cases, it may be necessary to escalate the call to a supervisor or a collection agency.
When deciding to escalate a call, it’s important to have a clear policy in place and to follow all legal requirements. Document all communication with the customer and keep detailed records of agreements or payment plans.
This action should be a last resort, but it is a necessary step in recovering overdue payments and maintaining the financial health of your self-storage facility. Follow the proper procedures and protocols to minimize the risk of legal action.
Be Professional and Avoid These Common Mistakes
When making collection calls, always remember to approach the situation with professionalism. Avoid using aggressive or threatening language, making false promises, or failing to follow up on agreements or payment plans.
Never make the customer feel embarrassed or ashamed about their financial situation. It’s far more productive to find a solution that works for everyone.
After the Call
After a collection call, it’s important to take steps to maintain a positive relationship with the customer.
Send a follow-up email or letter thanking them for their cooperation or offering incentives for on-time payments. This can help ensure that they continue renting from your facility and may even lead to positive reviews or referrals.
Collection calls are an inevitable part of any self-storage business. Nevertheless, by using the five strategies recommended in this article you can handle these calls like a pro.
Remember to approach the situation with empathy and professionalism, and to avoid common mistakes that may undermine your efforts. By taking the time to maintain a positive relationship with customers, you can help build a loyal customer base and ensure the long-term success of your self-storage facility.