Considerations for Choosing a Maintenance Professional for Your Self-Storage Business

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By Teresa Sedmak

Are there maintenance-related tasks at your self-storage facility that you can't or really don't want to handle yourself? Here are a few guidelines for hiring a contractor or other professional to help you eliminate maintenance headaches. For occasional and continuing facility upkeep, consider the following:

Experience. Does the person or company have experience in the specific task(s) you need completed? Do they have the proper equipment?

Credentials. Licensing for roofers, painters or builders can vary by state. If your state or municipality requires licensing, make sure anyone you hire has the proper licenses and insurance. Get a lien release upon payment so you know the suppliers and workers have been paid. This way, you can be assured that no liens can be filed against your property.

Insurance. Check to make sure the candidate's employees are covered by workers’ compensation and liability insurance. If a company doesn’t have insurance, you could be liable if something happens to the workers or your property.

References. Ask for references and check with previous customers. Were they satisfied with the work? Was it completed on time? Were their phone calls returned in a timely manner? Would they hire the candidate again? Learn as much as you can about the person or company you’re hiring.

Scope of work . Look for someone who can understand the scope of work and has the ability, equipment and attitude to complete the job. Do they understand exactly what you want done? If you aren't explicit about what you want and expect out of the relationship, you're only going to end up with confusion and disappointment. For example, if you ask a landscaper to “blow off the driveways,” he could blow all the dirt and debris onto your doors and into your units or hallways. Specific instructions are critical.

Cost. Don’t automatically accept the lowest bid. Often, if a bid is significantly lower than others, the contractor is cutting corners, has made a mistake, or has failed to include everything he needs to complete the project. The lowest bid often ends up being the same or greater cost with poorer workmanship than a reasonable, competitive estimate from a qualified professional.

Trial period. When it comes to ongoing maintenance such as landscaping or cleaning, the best tactic is to try the company on a short-term basis before making a commitment. If you find you have to coddle the person or company or you just don’t care for their work, you can avoid a costly mistake. If you do like them, you can make permanent arrangements.

Communication. Good communication with any hired professional is key. When considering a partner, ask how long it takes him to return e-mail, phone or text messages. Make sure you have his cell-phone number so you can reach him when he’s in the field as well as in the office. Likewise, giving your partner multiple ways to reach you will be helpful if there are any complications or decisions that have to be made during a project.

Maintaining your self-storage facility is a necessary part of running a successful business. Proper preservation will raise the property value and can be accomplished by partnering with the right partners on short- and long-term projects.

Teresa Sedmak is president of Everbrite Inc., which manufactures Everbrite Protective Coating, ProtectaClear coating and a variety of building cleaners. She is a licensed painting contractor with extensive experience and knowledge of protective coatings. For more information, call 800.304.0566; e-mail info@everbritecoatings.com; visit www.renewstorage.com .

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