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Reducing Your Business Risk: Commonsense Advice for Self-Storage Facility Owners

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By Jenny Bortman and Melanie Wichelman

The self-storage industry is booming, and owning a facility can be profitable as well as rewarding. Still, rewards don’t come without some risk. As a self-storage owner, you’re responsible for protecting yourself and your investment so you can stay on the path to success. Being knowledgeable and aware of the risks and liabilities associated with operating a storage business can help you stay one step ahead and avoid trouble.

Prevention and preparation are the keys to reducing liability. Follow these guidelines to minimize your risk.

Site Security

Keep your facility safe and don’t invite crime to visit your site. Remember, it’s not just your property at risk but customers’ goods as well.

At a minimum, your property should make use of basic security measures, such as perimeter fencing and access control. A secure, automatic gate system ensures only customers can enter. Keypads with unique customer codes, swipe cards or remote-control access systems are the best ways to keep out intruders. There are a variety of systems available, so do your research to find what works best for your business.

Even if your facility doesn’t offer 24-hour access, it’s important that it be well-lit. A dark lot is tempting for theft or general loitering. It also leaves you vulnerable to vandalism. If your facility is open late at night, good lighting will also help customers feel safe and allow them to navigate safely within the gates.

With today’s technological advances, there are many types of cameras and surveillance systems available. Some even connect with mobile devices so you can monitor your property while offsite. Just do your homework before you buy, as there’s great disparity among the quality of these systems.

There are also various alarm systems and monitoring services on the market. Fire and burglary alarms can be the first indication something is wrong and can even be programmed to contact the authorities when warranted. These systems and services can be expensive but worth the cost. If you’re adding an alarm system in stages, consider installing it in the office first.

Vigilance and Upkeep

The onsite manager has many tasks to perform every day, many of which can help protect a facility against accidents, property damage or other legal trouble. The following suggestions may sound simple, but it’s astonishing the number of claims that could easily be prevented through diligent maintenance every year.

Employees should walk the property at least once a day to inspect all the units and locks and ensure nothing is out of place. By doing daily inspections, they’ll be able spot something peculiar or dangerous and quickly act on it. They should note anything that needs repair or further inspection from a professional.

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