Creation and verification of your Google My Business listing
The marketing approach for a newly opened self-storage facility is multi-faceted, but one of the first and most important things you need to do is create and verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Why? Because it is the online gateway for your business. Google being the dominant force in local search, it is imperative that you show up in its searches and on its maps. Below is an overview of setting up your ad and the challenges you might encounter along the way.
Signing up on GMB is pretty straightforward. First of all, make sure you have a Google account for your business. It’s incredibly easy to create one at account.google.com. Log in, then visit company.google.com and click on the “Manage now” button. Follow the prompts and enter your information.
At the end of the process, Google will ask you to verify your ad by postcard, phone, or email. The postcard is the primary method for small businesses. Google will send one to your business that contains a PIN code, which you enter online. The map should take approximately five days to reach your site.
You have (no) mail!
Postal mail is where things can go wrong, especially if your new facility is on an equally new street. To establish mail delivery, you will need to go to the nearest post office and speak with the postmaster or the person responsible for helping businesses with the new service, known as the “growth manager”. You can also send an email to [email protected]. Ask if your address has ever been submitted by the city or county government. If not, ask them to add your business to the “publishing book” aka the “red book”. You should also discuss the delivery method, including appropriate mail receptacles for your business.
Here are some more practical tips from Kevin Johnson, Site Manager for Kent Supreme Self Storage in Kent, Washington, which opened in May:
- Talk to the carrier or post office about the location of the mailbox. You want it installed in the right place and at the right height for delivery.
- Install the mailbox before notifying the post office that you are ready to accept mail.
- Barriers or construction obstacles may prevent mail delivery. Work with the construction foreman to ensure the mailbox is accessible.
- Proceed to the post office to pick up any mail that may have been returned due to the issues mentioned above.
The key is to start this process early, as soon as you have started building a new facility. For our sites, we sometimes had to go to the post office several times to set up mail delivery, and we frequently received conflicting information on what to do. So, the earlier you start, the more likely you are to get that Google postcard and verify your GMB listing.
New street, new problems
Sometimes the barrier to creating or verifying your GMB listing is that your business is on a new street that is not yet listed on Google. It happened to See Pointe Self Storage in Edgewood, Washington, which was the first company to be built on a new road. While the city and county had the street on their planning maps, neither had a standard operating procedure for how to notify Google and other search engines. The mail was not delivered, including the Google postcard. After several conversations with the post office, View Pointe was finally able to receive mail.
Once that hurdle was overcome, there was another: Google checked the list but changed the business address to match an outdated map. It took numerous email conversations with Google to add the new street to its map along with the correct address and location of the storage company. The whole process, from the initial postcard request to the correct registration, took four months!
If you are building your self-storage facility on a new street, first contact your municipality to confirm their notification process to Google. If it doesn’t have a system, you may be responsible for doing the legwork and contacting Google yourself. Be prepared to provide proof of the new street by logging into county or city maps online. The process can take a while, so start as early as possible.
The opening date
Once you’re verified in Google, set an open date in your GMB listing so customers are alerted when you’re ready to work. It also ensures that they won’t be tempted to visit before launch. This information will appear in your “Google Knowledge” chart. This is what it looks like:
With the competition increasing in the self-storage industry every day, starting your new online business early will be crucial to your success. Follow these guidelines to establish mail delivery and claim and verify your GMB registration.
Derek Hines is a writer for West Coast Self-Storage, a self-storage management, acquisitions and development company with facilities in California, Oregon and Washington. He writes extensively on all topics related to the storage industry. For more information, visit www.westcoastselfstorage.com.