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Day-to-Day Facility Maintenance for the Self-Storage Manager

Donna May Comments
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The “at move out” items can then become part of the move-out routine. A checklist of tasks with the date completed can be added to the unit file. This provides a quick reference if you need to check the maintenance history.

Preventing Future Problems

In addition to tenant-based maintenance, consider adding other items to your existing routine. Adding a few minutes to your daily lock check can prevent potential problems from becoming actual ones. For example, when checking interior units, examine items such as exit-sign lighting, locks on mechanical rooms, thermostat controls, fire extinguishers and intercom operation.

When checking exterior units, inspect the gate track and keypad, the dumpster area, fence lines and bollard condition. Pick up any debris. As you drive or walk from unit to unit, look at drives for signs of wear and tear or vegetation coming up through the asphalt. Carry weed killer with you and use it at the first sign of interloping greenery. Keep a check list for your golf cart with the last time tire pressure and battery water levels were checked (weekly), and when fittings were last lubricated. Make it a habit to glance at your list when you get out the golf cart in the morning.

Some things are best tracked on a calendar. For example, adding algaecide to HVAC units, replacing air fresheners, inspecting gate wheels or any items that have longer intervals between inspections. Traditional or erasable calendars are fine, or try computer calendars in programs like Outlook, which let you set up recurring tasks and will automatically generate reminders.

If you’re just not a calendar person, find another way that will work for you. Try to associate the tasks on your list with other things that reoccur at appropriate intervals. Add algaecide every time you get an electrical bill, for example, or check the wheels on the gate the same day each month when locking out late-paying customers. Do a complete roof examination each time the clocks have to be set forward or backward, and check gutter and downspout attachments at the same time.

How you set up your schedule can be as personal as you need it to be; the essential thing is that there is a schedule and every item on the maintenance list is part of the routine. If you wait until you can see dirt on your floors before you mop them, then your tenants have seen it too. Prevention is the key.

It’s human nature to start out with enthusiasm, but as time goes by, interest wanes and diligence along with it. Facility maintenance is a dynamic issue, changing with weather, age and use. The list and schedule should be re-examined at least semi-annually, and definitely any time a new manager joins the team.

Managers guard the value of their facilities by keeping them properly maintained. With all of the other tasks they perform, integrating maintenance into the work flow is the safest bet to ensure there aren’t daisies peaking through the asphalt.

Donna May is president of Cross Metal Buildings, a Parham Group Co., and has been in the self-storage industry for 12 years. She is an instructor of Learn Self Storage, the past president of Joshua Management and a real estate broker. She has also been a partner in several startup self-storage projects. For information, call 210.477.4450; e-mail; visit

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