I walked in to the realtor’s office with a smile on my face, some literature in my hands and plenty of time to spend getting to know the people inside the office. I walked in and the woman behind the desk looked up at me and said, “Get out… get out now!”, then began to come at me like a tank. She was a sturdy middle aged woman who you could tell what she said, she meant.
I had no time to speak my rehearsed script:
Hello, my name is Joel Graves and I am the manager of Storage Station located at 2354 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, NJ, 07470.
Our phone number is 862-377-6593, or you can visit our website at www.storagestations.com. Here are some of my business cards for you to give your clients new to the Wayne area. I’ve written your company name on the back of each card so the when a client rents with us we’ll bring your office some free coffee and donuts.
Instead of saying any of that, I went blank and just turned tail and ran away like a scared school child. I retreated to the safety of my car and sat quietly thinking about what had just happened.
I was officially a solicitor. They have specially made signs for it.
In my office we call it “marketing”, but none the less, if you see a No Soliciting sign on a business door, you must not go in unless you’ve been invited. I compare it to how a vampire might feel.
They can’t go in unless they’ve been invited, too! Even if there is NO sign, you still take the chance of being chased out by a zaftig receptionist who knows what you’re there for before you take your first breath to introduce yourself.
It made me think about the first time I had been through this scenario, except it was me chasing out a perfectly innocent man dressed in a suit, carrying some business cards and some literature and who had the misfortune of walking in my office while I was working. It didn’t matter he was only doing his job. That he wasn’t there because he wanted to be. That instead of me taking a minute to listen and take some information from him, maybe even offering him a simple cup of coffee of a glass of water,
I threw myself out of my chair at him like he was a pariah.
Letting him know in no uncertain terms he was never to come back.
There are not many instances in which you get to make amends in life, but I was fortunate enough to have this one.
The day I threw that man out of my office, I was working for a large corporation. It was the norm to be selective on where and with whom we marketed our product with. It didn’t matter who walked through the door, an appointment was necessary to keep the illusion of importance. The company was bought out and the company who bought us already had staff to run our facility, so we were all let go.
I allowed myself to be unemployed for a few months after my eight year run as a facility manager. I eventually grew tired of my life of leisure and started to look for work again. I came across an online ad for a managerial position at Storage Station of Wayne.
My interview process was easy and I was made to feel comfortable right away. I was called and told that I had been approved for the position and hired the next week.
I was in my office a few months later, doing the daily paperwork and planning my marketing events when who would happen to walk through my front door? The same man in the suit who I had refused to enter my last office was standing in front of me. I don’t think he recognized me because he was friendly. Maybe it was because I was friendly back that made me unrecognizable to him.
Maybe it was because he was treated poorly by so many office workers he didn’t remember any one of them specifically.
I offered the man a cup of coffee and a seat. I listened to his pitch for solar energy panels that would lower our electricity costs. I didn’t tell him about our having met before. I let him think I was a nice guy for giving him some coffee, giving him a little bit of my time and saying I would pass his information along to my main office. He walked out feeling a little better about himself. He didn’t need to know that as a rule, I can’t send our main office everything that is solicited to us, so his cards and literature went in to the trash. Marketing is a harsh world!
I have to do a lot of leg work in my current management position at Storage Station of Wayne. I don’t have a big budget to pay for internet ads, billboards, etc. I have give-a-way items such as cold drink cups, coffee cups, key chains and stress balls. I pass them out to the small businesses I visit with some of my business cards to promote our location. I have to promote myself as well. I have to walk in a place of business with confidence and a little humility.
I hope that when I walk out, my cards don’t end up in the trash.
That my selling points of the facility, as well as myself, come through so I’m the guy who gets referred to as friendly and trustworthy. I offer the local community businesses a place to store their goods at a fair price. I offer them referral gifts when they send someone to our facility and they rent self storage.
I have a new understanding and sympathy for the solicitor/marketer of today. I don’t ever chase them out of my office. I give them a lot more respect now that I have walked in their shoes. In this day and age, I can’t begrudge anyone for trying to make an honest living and it’s easier to be kind.
At Storage Station of Wayne, we’re just kind that way….