By Frank Certo
As the busy season arrives, self-storage operators are abuzz with anticipation. For many operations, the next three or four months will make or break the entire year. Some of you are spending time and money to improve curb appeal, upgrade software, and accomplish other tasks to better accommodate the rush of customers. But what are you doing to ensure your store is and continues to be a safe place for employees, site visitors and tenants?
Safety and crime prevention is vital to the long-term relationship you have in your community and the growth of your business. Nothing is ever fool-proof, but we can be as proactive as possible by having a multi-faceted approach.
Focus on Security
When you first got approval to build self-storage in the neighborhood, some residents may have been concerned because other operators in the past allowed their facilities to fall into disrepair and failed to properly address site security. This may have led to crime and mischievous behavior that required the attention of local authorities. It may even have been a source of community tension.
Self-storage users now seek a higher standard, and facility operators who fail to live up to it invite bad behavior. It’s our responsibility to not let this occur. We want to maintain a strong relationship in the community and keep getting those referrals, so security is a must.
There are many types of systems you can use to provide security and peace of mind to customers and local residents. It’s best to use several layers of security to cover it all as best you can.
Perimeter fencing with secure access points is a basic necessity all stores should have. Fencing helps designate the operational lines. Secure gates slide or lift when a code is entered, and are tied into your software so customers can enter/exit the property safely and properly.
Lots of bright lighting and signage should indicate where fencing and gates are located. This allows local authorities to watch over the property and makes customers feel safe while visiting their units. In addition, keypads at the gate areas and building and elevator entrances prohibits folks who aren’t supposed to be there.
Video cameras and recording devices keep watch on the property at all times. Record activity to review later, if necessary. All main entrances, drive lanes and potential areas of suspicious should be under the eye of a modern camera, capable of picking up images at all times of day and zooming in when needed.
Alarms are obviously very important to the security of your self-storage facility. At minimum, the office should be armed and monitored by a reputable company that ties directly into local authorities and property staff. Individual unit alarms are a next-level system, and they can be wired or wireless. They tie directly into your management software and keep even current customers from sniffing around others’ units.
Finally, secure empty units with facility locks. Motion sensors can be armed and unarmed via codes in the gate software or set to automatically turn on or off according to your access schedule.
Your local police department and business community will be happy to know you’ve installed all these systems to help keep your business safe and secure. Now it’s time to leverage those relationships.