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Building Your Service Stable: Finding and Hiring Contractors for Self-Storage Maintenance Problems

By Matthew Van Horn Comments

It’s 5:35 p.m. on a Friday before a three-day holiday weekend. It’s been a fairly normal week at your self-storage facility, and you’re getting ready to close the office when it happens: You notice the gate system isn’t responding. Customers can’t access your facility, the computer won’t update the gate controller, and a little tinge of worry sets in your psyche.

You sit at your computer, hoping beyond hope you can find the name of that gate company you hired last year. You sift through your e-mail, check your files, even open your accounting program to look for an old invoice. Guess what? You can’t find it! Now the real fun begins because you’ve gone from looking forward to a fun weekend to full-blown panic.

This type of situation happens more often than our industry would like to admit. It’s not just gate systems that fail, but air-conditioning units, cameras, doors and even printers. Preparation is the key to keeping your facility’s maintenance and service issues at bay. To accomplish this, we must have a solid stable of service professionals to help with the issues we confront on a day-to-day basis. What kinds of contractors will help you? How do we find them and how much should we really pay? Let’s explore how you can be prepared before something breaks.

Simply Irritating or a Big Deal?

All self-storage facilities have items that break down from time to time but don’t cause too much angst. Then there are some problems that, when they occur, they’re big. Typical daily issues might involve a facility’s:

  • Cameras, gate or other security components
  • Unit doors
  • Heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) units
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Driveways, parking lot or landscaping

A majority of these issues are annoyances, but most won’t keep you from running the property. The bigger issues are typically related to capital-repair items or some type of situation that needs to be discussed with your insurance company. These might include:

  • Roof replacement
  • Lightning strikes
  • Utility damage or replacement
  • Extensive building damage
  • Blacktop and asphalt issues
  • Sink holes
  • HVAC replacements

These are the types of problems for which you need service contractors in your electronic Rolodex. How do you find them? Fifteen years ago, we would break open the Yellow Pages. Now we have the Internet. The fastest way to find any contractor is to visit Google or Bing and do a search. You’ll find a number of options in your area. Look at each one and read the customer reviews. If you’re social media inclined, try searching Facebook as well. The platform has grown massively over the last few years and has been aggressively adding business profiles to its service.

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