Jim Chiswell of Chiswell & Associates LLC, has consulted on hundreds of self-storage startups in the last 20 years. When it comes to security, he reminds us that numbers and technology can dazzle people—both customers and operators. You can have access control and a dozen cameras, but it’s the total security program that protects your site, and it is the manager whose diligence in observing the site and making lock checks who deters the criminal.
Equally important, it is your trained manager who demonstrates and sells your security features. Let the information your manager provides separate you from the competition. You are the security expert.
Stop Them at the Door
Many thieves get into facilities by renting a small unit. Your site could rely on a camera to record activity at your site, but it does not prevent a break-in. Alarms can sound, but they still leave a window for a thief, and they can be disabled.
A mass-market, hardware-store lock will not stop a bolt cutter, and neither will a mass-market disk lock if a thief takes a bolt cutter to a slide bolt, which more of them are doing.
When you invest in technology, match that investment with a cylinder lock that inserts right in the door. For a few dollars a door, using more than a conventional lock, you can demonstrate to your renter that your facility provides stronger security than the competition. Use a sample lock and latch system on your counter to demonstrate how your door security surpasses the competition.
This interactive sales approach may require your manager to be less of a landscaper and more of a sales representative. The choice is yours. In a competitive market, with more women renting, and crime and safety more of an issue, can you expect to succeed with a passive approach to security?
Bill Green of Double J Court Self Storage in Wickenburg, Ariz., considers security to be a key component to separating him from his competition. He markets his security on the phone, in the Yellow Pages and on his website, and he continues marketing after he makes the sale as well.
According to Double J’s website, the company spent $10,000 on a new lock-and-latch system by L.A.I. The system, featuring a locking cylinder that is inserted into the door so the lock and latch are nearly flush-mounted, “will provide much higher security. It also means that you do not need to buy a lock.”