Myths and Misconceptions
With benefits like these, why doesn’t every self-storage operator work with a maintenance company? There are myths and misconceptions in the industry. One of them is the notion of saving money by doing it yourself. Changing a light bulb or painting a wall is certainly something Jack could handle, but when the maintenance becomes more specialized and time-consuming, wisdom begs letting Jack stick to what he knows best—driving revenue to the facility—and calling in the experts. In other words, Jack should focus on the business of self-storage rather than the business of self-storage maintenance.
There’s also the unfortunate reality that not all contractors are honest. Over the years, some operators have hired bad apples who gave the maintenance business a bad name. But the majority of companies are legitimate and do solid work, not fly-by-night contractors asking to be paid in cash under the table.
Another misconception is it’s less expensive to add a maintenance man to the staff and call him as needed. But these arrangements often lead to employees who take three times as long as necessary to complete a maintenance task just so they can clock more hours. Even if you hire an in-house maintenance person to service several facilities, you’re still faced with stocking costly parts, along with liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, which drive up the overall cost.
Knowledge and Experience
When evaluating a maintenance company, look for knowledge and experience. Ask for referrals and get references. During the interview, ask what types of supplies the company keeps on hand and if it's staff is familiar with your type of doors, gate-access system and roof.
If you want 24-hour service, ask if the company provides it. Ask about the turnaround time for a maintenance call. Does the firm do emergency calls? If so, what's the wait time? Smaller firms may get backlogs of service requests. Also ask if the firm hires its own employees or subcontracts the work. Firms with in-house employees have more control over how the work is performed and may offer better service and pricing.
Finally, experience in the self-storage industry is vital. Although many maintenance companies could perform most of the tasks you need, those experienced with the unique needs of storage facilities are a safer choice.
James Fawcett is the president of Accent Building Restoration (ABR), which offers a full range of property and building services including cosmetic construction, painting, maintenance and other repairs. For more information, call 866.498.7391; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.abrusa.com .