Summer Shape-Up: A Self-Storage Operator's Guide to Complete Facility Maintenance

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Landscaping

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.

  • Aerate your lawn every year, which allows water to better reach the root system and dramatically improves the look of grassy areas.
  • Prune trees, shrubs and flowers regularly to improve the look and spur growth.
  • Flowers, whether in pots or in beds, should be free of weeds and insects and fertilized regularly.
  • Trim tree branches that threaten power lines or ones that could damage your buildings during severe weather.
  • Remove dead plants, trees and shrubs immediately.

Green Tip: Conserve water by using rock landscaping wherever possible, and add plants that flourish with minimal watering.

Kiosk

Yes, even your facility’s kiosk requires some upkeep. Robert Chiti, president and CEO of OpenTech Alliance Inc., offers these tips:

  • Ensure the kiosk and customers who use it are protected from the rain. The kiosk is built to withstand rain―the consumer, not so much.
  • Keep the kiosk in good working order and replace defective components immediately. Manufacturers warranty their systems so operators should not hesitate to reach out and request replacement components.  
  • Kiosks offer service to customers day and night. Replace any burned-out lighting near the kiosk to ensure customers feel safe when using it. 

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.
 
Golf Cart

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. 
 
Mobile Storage

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:

  • Wash them! In the absence of a specific recommendation from your manufacturer, use a mild detergent intended for washing cars or RVs.
  • Signs on the portable units are one of your most powerful marketing tools. If yours don't look great, consider having them touched up or replaced.
  • Stop rust before it can start by touching up any scratches in the paint.                 
  • If containers have roll-up doors, the springs may require periodic lubrication to prevent rust and eventual spring breakage, unless they feature a coating which eliminates this need. Make sure the doors raise and lower smoothly, without slamming up or down. Adjust the spring tension as needed for proper door operation.
  • Containers using solid-steel rollers may have grease fittings in the axles. If so, use a grease gun to lubricate them. For containers using air-filled tires (often a temporary hardware attachment), check the air pressure and condition of the tires.
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