Controlling the Maintenance Costs of Boat and RV Storage

Terri and Ed Heil Comments
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If you’ve been a boat/RV owner or operator for several years, you’ve probably learned how difficult it is to keep your property clean and fresh. As managers of a large multi-service storage facility, we know firsthand how hard it is to keep maintenance costs under control. Read on for some helpful hints.

The To-Do List

We start and end every day using a facility checklist that helps keep everyone on track, especially when they have to sign off on each task. Our office procedures manual provides details on what must be done and what to do if there is a problem. Here’s a breakdown of how we’ve organized our checklist:

Restrooms/showers. Restrooms and showers are inspected every morning and evening to make sure they are well-stocked and clean. Access to the restrooms and showers are controlled with a keypad similar to an entrance keypad. On weekends, which are typically busier than week days, we check bathrooms every hour. Our tenants appreciate the effort to keep the restrooms and showers clean and generally do their part, too.

Driveways. We use golf carts to get around our 11-acre property. Using a trash picker—a 3-foot claw device bought at a local retail warehouse—we pick up debris while driving around. The entire facility is a no-smoking area because of the potential fumes from thousands of gallons of gasoline in stored vehicles. “No Smoking” signs are posted on gates, in facility rules and leases.

On busy weekends, we drive around on our golf carts and collect trash from tenants so it doesn’t wind up on the property. We keep our dumpster locked to ensure tenants aren’t discarding oil or other hazardous waste.

Doors. We have more than 800 doors on the property, ranging in size from 4-by-7 to 13-by-14. Plus, there are more than 200 electric-operated doors. Because we find most door malfunctions are due to operator error, we ask all tenants to sign a form stating they have been trained in door operation. No one gets by without training on how to raise, lower and lock doors.

In addition, we inspect the door exteriors daily for damage. Whenever possible, we adjust the doors and clean the guide rail. We also encourage tenants to let us know when doors aren’t working smoothly so we can do on-the-spot preventive maintenance. Since we have implemented a preventive maintenance plan, door malfunction issues have been reduced by 50 percent.

Wash bay. The facility has a full-service wash bay, complete with a moveable stairway so RVers can access the top of their rigs. Tenants sign a special waiver that covers the use of the moveable ladder. We’ve also posted a “Use at Your Own Risk” sign on the ladder.

Boaters and RVers love the wash bay and, so far, maintenance has been minimal. Since the equipment required a large air compressor, we also added a free air station so tenants can inflate tires and water toys.

Hose bibs. The hose bibs located around the property are designated for facility maintenance-use only, requiring a special key and faucet for use. Other facility owners have told us they wished they didn’t have hose bibs because of the dirt they produce on the driveways from vehicles and boats being washed.

Branded bottles of water. You’re probably asking, “What does bottled water have to do with maintenance?” We keep a cooler of water bottles with our logo—a marketing/advertising write-off—on the golf cart. Whenever we see an open door, we deliver an ice-cold bottle of water. Talking with tenants gives us an opportunity to see what’s stored and look for maintenance issues, especially with doors. We also remind tenants that we can blow out their space and clean the door guide rails if they leave the unit empty for a day.

While cleaning units, we check the floor for oil spills and spray for bugs. Our facility is located in the Mohave Desert, home to scorpions, black widows, sun spiders and rattlesnakes. It’s also a place where temperatures can reach 120 degrees, making cold water an absolute necessity.

Oil spills. Lake Havasu City is a gathering place for street rods and vintage automobiles, many of which have minor oil leaks. To control spills, the concrete floors are sealed, and tenants can also purchase spill pads in the facility’s store. We watch for every opportunity to control maintenance issues so they don’t become bad habits.

RV dump station. The facility has a free RV dump station. The area around the drain pipe is surrounded by a 4-inch curb, and the entire area has epoxy paint to contain spills. We also provide a 4-foot hose on a butterfly valve so tenants can wash the area when finished.

Having a checklist will not only keep everyone on track, but can also eliminate problems down the road. The goal should be to be as accommodating as possible without compromising your high standards.

Ed Heil is the manager of operations and security, and Terri Heil is the business development manager for Lake Havasu RV & Boat Storage of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. For more information, call 877.764.1961; visit www.lakehavasustorage.com. 

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