So, you built a self-storage facility, it looks great, customers are happy, and business is booming. Everything is great, right? Right. But how do you make sure that you keep business booming for the long haul? The answer is simple – facility maintenance and improvements. Jim Sullivan, CEO of Sullivision.com once said, “If you walk past a problem, you have approved it.” Don’t walk past the problems at your facility (or potential problems that can be avoided), because it’s the simple things that keep your customers happy and ensure that your business stays afloat.
In this blog, we’ll dive into 5 easy ways to maintain and improve your storage facility (and why it’s so important)
- Make Sure You Look Up: Take Care of Your Metal Roof
- Don’t Forget About the Doors
- Keep with the Times: Automation & Technology
- LED Lighting is the Leader for a Reason
- First Impressions Matter: Overall Appearance
Make Sure You Look Up: Take Care of Your Metal Roof
Protecting your tenant’s property is the main purpose of a self-storage facility. That protection starts with the structure of the building, and a big part of that structure is the metal roof. It doesn’t matter if you have a traditional, single-story facility or a multistory facility – your metal roof matters.
Many older facilities, particularly those built in the last 10-20 years, were built using R-Panel roofing. If you hear someone say that R-Panel roofs are the most common in the storage industry, well technically that was true, and many facilities still may have these types of metal roofing installed, however there is a better alternative. Standing Seam metal roofing has now replaced R-Panel as an industry standard roof for a few reasons. To start, Standing Seam roofs are 24 gauge, whereas most R-Panels are 26-29 gauge. This means that Standing Seam roof panels are made of thicker metal and are therefore stronger than other panel types. Standing Seam roofs are more resistant to leaks, and this is mostly due to the way that they are designed and installed. This means no water damage to a tenant’s property, which is always a plus.
R-Panel roofing has a couple of common issues associated with it. First, they have exposed fasteners every few feet. This becomes an issue when the metal roof expands and contracts with hot and cold weather, as the fasteners can become loose. This is where leaks can begin paying you a visit. Not only do loose fasteners allow water into the units, they can also cause rust and mold. And let’s be honest, nobody wants that. In these screw down roof types, sometimes the seals or seams are not sealed correctly, which can also lead to rust and leakage at your facility.
Some other roofing issues to look out for when doing your maintenance are clogged gutters and downspouts. If your gutters are clogged, water can get ‘backed up’ and pool, which means it’s just sitting on your metal roof. I think we all know what they long-term effect of standing water on metal look like.
Not only do stuffed gutters cause rust and leaks over time, but they negatively impact the appearance of your facility as well. It’s simple – keep them cleaned out and free of debris. Checking your roof for rust, dents, crimping, holes, or pooling water will greatly reduce your chances of water leaks.
Don’t Forget About the Doors
One of the most distinguishing factors of a self-storage facility is, of course, the unit doors. These doors are what your current and future customers will see up close, so it’s important to make sure that you’re performing maintenance checks on your doors. Doors should be inspected before a tenant moves in, and again after they’ve moved out. Inspection of a roll up door doesn’t just mean ensuring it looks pretty, although this too is important. It means you also need to check to make sure the door is functioning properly and make any necessary adjustments when needed.
Don’t forget to take a look at the door track and weather stripping as well, and make any repairs and clean them when needed. While you’re inside the unit, look for any type of puddles or staining that could give insight to a possible leak. Removal of cobwebs, checking for signs of pests, and sweeping out any dust or debris is just a common courtesy for new tenants, and trust me, the little things go a long way. We all know the customer experience is the backbone of any successful business.
Lastly, do check the exterior of your doors. Make sure they stay clean by rinsing them or wiping them off if needed. If the doors are fading, chalking, dented, scratched, or 15-20 years old, it's a good idea to consider replacing them. Ugly or damaged doors reflect age, and some tenants may get the impression that your doors aren’t safe or sturdy. When customers see a facility that appears as though it’s not being cared for, they typically assume this is the same care that is extended to the tenants and their stored belongings.
Keep with the Times: Automation & Technology
It’s no secret that technology is at the forefront of how today’s consumers expect to interact with businesses, meaning every step of the buyer’s journey is done online. Maybe they Googled ‘self-storage facilities near me’ and your site popped up. When they click on your site, what do they see? If your website is old and outdated, or doesn’t offer any automation, they’re probably going to leave. On average, users spend less than 15 seconds on a website. Grab their attention up front.
An easy-to-navigate website is crucial, and automation services like online rentals, bill payments, appointments, and more are guaranteed to put you ahead of the curve when it comes to retaining current customers and attracting new ones. If you have zero reviews of your facility or no links to social media accounts, your website could give off the feel that your facility is ‘sketchy’. Make sure you’re staying modern and up to date on your website.
Automation is completely possible onsite at your facility as well. Incorporating smart locks is another way to boost your facility and compete in the ever-growing industry. Those rusty old padlocks are outdated, and nobody likes getting locked out of their unit if they lose or forget their key. Not only do electronic Bluetooth smart locks provide more security (we all know how easy it is to cut through padlocks with a pair of bolt cutters), but your tenants don’t have to worry about getting locked out because they can always access their unit through their smart device. Smart entry systems can integrate with your property management software, providing total access control and visibility into activity at your site at all times. This not only includes gate and entry point access, but elevators and individual storage units as well. And let's not forget about the premium rents (we're seeing up to 30% higher) as well as the insurance discounts that accompany having smart storage units at your facility.
Adding a smart entry system to existing sites is now easier than ever. The all-in-one design of external Bluetooth smart locks are the ideal retrofit solution for self-storage operators looking to enhance and update their facility’s access control system. With these electronic smart locks being installed on the outside of the unit door, it eliminates the need to run low voltage, resulting in less time spent inside of each unit during install, and making it far less disruptive for business.
LED Lighting is the Leader for a Reason
We’ve all heard the expression, “Let there be light!”. Light maintenance at your storage facility is super important. Customers don't want to walk down a dimly lit hallway or staircase by themselves, or get caught on a poorly lit walkway should they have to access their unit later in the day. Having sufficient lighting, outside and inside, ensures that your tenants will have a safe and comfortable experience at your facility. Abundant lighting provides reassurance, can help prevent accidents, and even discourage criminal activity or loitering. It’s an extra layer of security that people will appreciate.
If you’re not using LED lighting, you should be. LEDs use less wattage but give off the same amount of light, if not more. Experts say that LED lighting uses up to 80% less energy, therefore lessening your energy bill, saving you money, and increasing your overall ROI. You can also install motion sensors or light timers as another energy saving facet. A perk is that LED lights last longer than standard lighting, so investing in this will actually save you some time on maintenance. Gone are the days of continuously replacing blown bulbs. Your customers can feel completely safe accessing their unit.
An interesting use of LED lighting is on the exterior of your storage building. Good exterior lighting can bring attention to prominent areas at your facility, like your business sign and the entry points to the building. It can also be used to accentuate interesting design features, and allows your facility to be well seen from the street, even at night. LED lighting is available in a multitude of colors, so if you’re feeling festive, you can easily ‘dress up’ your facility on holidays by changing the color of the lights!
First Impressions Matter: Overall Appearance
The easiest way to perform storage maintenance is to just keep your property looking nice. Make sure the grass is cut, weeds are eliminated, and throw in some colorful, cheerful flowers and nice shrubbery. Check your driveways for potholes or busted asphalt. It’s important to do a walkaround of your facility from time to time to make sure there is no damage to your façade, like fading/peeling paint or loose bricks and stones. Keep an eye out for trash on the outdoor walkways, grass, and in the unit aisles (this goes for traditional and multistory storage). Taking out the trash is a chore, but it must be done.
Make sure that any glass, whether it be doors or windows, are regularly cleaned and don’t have fingerprints or smudges visible. Keep your main office area tidy, and if you have retail items like boxes or other packing materials, make sure they’re displayed in an organized manner. Treat your facility like it’s your own home.
Storage maintenance and improvements are something that should be at the forefront of every owner/operator’s mind. To make it easy, make a schedule dedicated to maintenance, whether it be weekly or monthly. List out the items you need to check on, and take notes if you notice any issues that need attention. Keep your business booming for many years to come by keeping up with maintenance and improvements at your facility.
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