Summer Shape-Up: A Self-Storage Operator's Guide to Complete Facility Maintenance
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Amy Campbell|
|Posted on: 05/31/2010|
You don’t have to be a new facility to be the No. 1 choice in your community. Regular maintenance and upkeep will keep your current tenants happy and attract new ones. This ultimate maintenance guide covers everything from your rooftop to the asphalt, unit doors to golf carts. Whether these tasks are performed weekly, daily or as needed, staying on top of them will ensure your facility is in top shape year-round.
How the outside of your facility looks—from the curb to drive aisles—is a critical component of your facility’s success. Potholes, overgrown or dead landscaping, peeling paint, dented doors and burned-out signage gives current and prospective customers a negative vibe about your facility. Here are some guidelines to keeping your outdoor environment looking sharp.
Everyone hates potholes. Get rid of these pesky craters as soon as they happen. You’ll need to rely on a professional to do the job, but it’ll be well worth it. If your parking lot is riddled with problems, consider an asphalt overlay. The overlay thickness should be 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Add a sealant to your facility’s pavement every three to five years to minimize cracks and extend its life. Portland cement, which is a fine powder, can also help remove concrete stains. Just sprinkle it over the stain and sweep it up a day later.
The exterior of your buildings, particularly at the front of your property, represent your facility’s condition as a whole. If the buildings look rundown with cracks or faded, peeling paint, expect customers to make a beeline to your competitors.
“A simple power-wash could be a low-cost resolution to remove mildew and stains,” says Ryan Dorrell of CertaPro Painters. A fresh coat of paint can also do wonders. Or consider using a coating that restores paint to its previous luster and adds a protective element. For metal siding, use a mild degreaser to keep it clean. Additional tips:
Green Tip: Buy paints and siding with no volatile organic compounds.
The upkeep of your facility’s roofs is critical. Roofs can collapse, leak and deteriorate. For the best prevention, walk your roofs regularly to remove debris and check for problems. When walking on standing-seam roofs, be careful to tread along the purlins and do not step on the ridge caps. Your roofs will likely have some residue from wind, rain and storm, but you may also find scrap metal, cans and bottles. Dissimilar contact between metals causes corrosion. Birds can also wreak havoc on roofs.
Dale Nelson of Roof Hugger reminds operators to regularly check their roof fasteners. If they begin to show rust or drip, replace them. Use an oversize stainless screw to give the roof the maximum possible life. Look for missing or loose screws, deteriorating rubber washes, separation of lap joints, and exposed sealants that have cracks or bubbles.
Remember to clean out all gutters and downspouts every spring and fall. Make sure the water drainage leads away from the building.
Green Tip: Use a “cool” Polyvinylidene Fluoride paint system, which combats the heat-island effect via solar reflectance.
Whether you have rolling hills of grass punctuated with bright flowers or pebbled paths with a scattering of trees and bushes, well-maintained facility landscaping is a must to attract tenants.
Green Tip: Conserve water by using rock landscaping wherever possible, and add plants that flourish with minimal watering.
Yes, even your facility’s kiosk requires some upkeep. Robert Chiti, president and CEO of OpenTech Alliance Inc., offers these tips:
MOVABLE FIXTURES: VEHICLES AND CONTAINERS
Whether it’s your golf cart, mobile-storage transport or moving truck, you need to maintain these “wheels” just like any other part of your property.
A golf cart can be a self-storage manager’s best friend. It’s the quickest way to get around the facility property, show units to tenants, and haul trash or cleaning supplies. Gina Six Kudo, manager of Cochrane Road Self Storage, keeps a grabber, a small trash container and a disposable glove on her cart at all times for easy clean-up.
Treat your golf cart as you would any vehicle, checking the oil, tire pressure, etc., and keeping it clean inside and out. Tom Litton of Litton Property Management offers this tip: “Buy a large bar magnet and hang it below the golf cart. It picks up pins, nails and slivers of metal, but mostly brake shavings, which wreak havoc on your asphalt.”
Green Tip: Consider purchasing an electric golf cart. These quiet vehicles often cost less than their gas counterparts.
While most mobile-storage containers are designed to be as maintenance-free as possible, there are things you can do to make your fleet look great longer. Steve Hajewski of Trachte Building Systems recommends:
“It is crucial you follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual for preventive maintenance and warranty conditions,” says CJ Olsen of truck provider On the Move Inc.. Treat your facility truck like you would any vehicle. Routinely check its fluid levels including brake, oil, transmission, power steering, windshield-washer and coolant.
Verify the tires are in good condition, and turn signals, headlights, brake lights and interior lights are operable. Your truck should be detailed and cleaned out regularly. Repair all damage to your truck as soon as possible.
Keep your truck graphics up to date to reflect a positive impression of the cleanliness of your facility. Peeling graphics or those with graffiti are deterrents to renters. A clean, well-cared-for truck will show customers you have a quality business.
This where a bulk of your day-to-day maintenance comes in. Your doors, units and office require regular upkeep. Preventive maintenance can usually keep small problems from becoming major hassles.
Doors are a vital part of your business, and they require upkeep. You don’t want them to be faded, chalky, dented, squeaky, jammed or difficult to open. Here’s your “Door Maintenance 101 Guide.”
Elevator and Lifts
Elevator and lifts maintenance is often ignored until something goes wrong. Be proactive and follow these tips:
Imagine opening a unit in front of prospective customer only to find it dirty or showing signs of pests. When a unit is vacated, sweep the floor, ceilings and corners. The floor may also need a good mopping. Kill odors with a deodorizer. Check for evidence of leaking, insects and rodents. Be sure to lock vacant units.
Office and Restrooms
Once you’ve lured customers with your outstanding curb appeal, maintain that good impression with your office and restrooms.
Green Tip: Use environment-friendly cleaning products and supplies. Sell recycled boxes and packing materials. In the restroom, add a timer to the light switch, and install low-flow toilets and faucets.
Security and safety should always be a high priority. Cameras, door alarms, lighting, fencing and gates act as deterrents and keep employees, tenants and their belongings safe. Schedule regular inspections of your property’s security systems. Look for damage and deterioration, dead batteries, cracked or missing seals, proper mounting and loose wires.
The cornerstone of your security system, gates and gate operators need regular upkeep to run smoothly. Note: When performing maintenance on gates, always turn off the power to the gate operator.
Green Tip: Consider adding a solar gate.
Keep out dust and dirt by regularly vacuuming the camera, equipment area, monitor and digital video recorder (DVR). If you’re still using a VHS player and video tapes, replace them with a DVR. To ensure your DVR records all the action, check it regularly. It should be set to retain video records for a set period of time.
Some cameras may also lose focus or be moved either accidentally or on purpose. Tony Gardner of QuikStor Security & Software suggests operators purchase a service plan for video systems that includes a technician visiting your property every three to six months to clean the camera lenses and housings, adjust focus, and confirm cameras are angled correctly.
For contact information on these and other companies that provide products and services to the self-storage industry, view the Inside Self-Storage Buyer’s Guide at www.insideselfstorage.com/bg.
Sources: AJAY Equipment Corp., BETCO Inc., Chamberlain Access Solutions, CertaPro Painters, Everbrite Inc., Litton Property Management Inc. On the Move Inc., OpenTech Alliance Inc., QuikStor Security and Software, Roof Hugger Inc., Schindler Elevator Corp., Sentinel Systems Corp., Sun Power Security Gates Inc., ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Trachte Building Systems, US Door and Building Components.
Images provided by: AJAY Equipment Corp., Cochrane Road Self Storage, Everbrite Inc., Lock Box Self Storage, On the Move Inc., OpenTech Alliance Inc., QuikStor Security and Software, Storage Solutions, Trachte Building Systems.