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Seeing What You Don't See: A Fresh Look at Self-Storage Maintenance and Curb Appeal

By Linnea Appleby Comments

Just as we don’t see ourselves aging on a daily basis, we sometimes don’t see aging in our surroundings, including our self-storage facility. We carry around a visual in our heads of what we believe something looks like. Consider when you see a new picture of yourself and everyone else looks OK, but you don’t look the way you thought you did. It’s human. It’s also human to adapt to your environment. It’s known as “already, always” thinking.

Our brain has a way of “hard coding” the stuff we see every day. After a period of time (and it’s not very long), it stops seeing familiar things. This is our brain’s natural way of filtering information for us. Without this filter, we wouldn’t be able to function. It does, however, cause us to “see” some things as we remember them rather than how they actually are.

Sometimes you need to “hit the reset button” and get a fresh perspective on your facility’s appearance. The best way to do this is to invite a peer to tour the property with you. Choose someone you respect and admire and just show him around. This’ll allow you to see things that your brain has pushed to the background.

Following are some common “already, always” things we may see differently from our tenants as well simple ways to improve your facility curb appeal and maintenance.

The Curb

As customers turn into your driveway, what do they see? Are they treated to an inviting, fresh picture or a stale, faded one? Having good curb appeal is critical, so your entrance should be as alluring as possible. Here are some places where a little care can go a long way.

Flags and banners. Everyone, including your tenants, has “already, always” thinking. If that banner outside your office has been hanging for longer than six months, chances are it’s become part of the background, and it’s time to change up the scenery. If you proudly display the American flag, replace it when it’s ripped or worn, and make sure it’s spotlighted at night. The number of customers familiar with flag etiquette would probably surprise you, so follow the correct display protocol.

Gate and keypad. Your security components are often a tenant’s first interaction with your property. Are the numbers clear and the instructions legible on your keypad? Does the gate open properly and easily? When was the last time you had these things serviced? No operator wants an angry tenant stuck behind a faulty gate.

Landscaping. Add seasonal flowers to brighten the entrance, but let them go when their life is over. Dying flowers do nothing for your brand. Consider adding healthy shrubs that require little upkeep. You also need to pull weeds, mow the grass, and trim bushes and tree branches as necessary. Consider outsourcing your landscaping to a reputable company. Not only will this help keep things clean, it’ll free up your time to focus on more important duties.

Pavement. Refresh the parking stripes in front of the office, and repaint any parking stops, bollards and curbs. Patch any potholes, and kill any weeds growing through the cracks in the sidewalk. Better yet, fix the cracks!

The Office

There’s a difference between “wearing out” and “worn out.” Recognize when it’s time to replace things—from office chairs to window treatments—before they’re the latter. Here are some areas to consider.

Electrical. Clean the dust from ceiling fans and fixtures. Wipe any wires and plugs. Check your outlets, surge strips and battery backups for fraying and broken parts. Is there a nest of wires under the desk that’s become a dust-bunny breeding ground? Managing this mess can be as simple as marking wires with masking tape for identification, and then tying them together with a twist tie.

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