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

By Matthew Van Horn Comments
Continued from page 1

In addition, talk to friends and family. It will take about five minutes for one of them to say, “I know a guy.” Also consider your customers. You may have a contractor, electrician, plumber or roofer who rents at your facility.

Choosing a Contractor

Finally, we get to the hardest part: choosing a service contractor. This will be easier for services you can assess quickly. For example, anyone can walk outside to see if the facility landscaping looks good or if something was pressure-washed correctly. It gets trickier with services we don’t understand. Most of us aren’t roofers, HVAC or gate techs, so we’re mistrustful right off the bat because we don’t know how the technology works. You’ll have to ask yourself things like:

  • Is this company giving me the best deal?
  • Does this HVAC unit really need to be replaced?
  • Do I really need a new roof?

The way to combat your deficit of knowledge is to schedule appointments with a couple service contractors. Have them review your problem and give you a bid. After reviewing the bids, choose the one you feel will best address your issue. If you think the bid is high, try negotiating to get the best deal. Remember, the cheapest bid doesn’t always come with the best service, so take that into account. Make sure any contractor who conducts any type of work at your facility is licensed and insured, as well as willing to give you a copy of its certificate of insurance and a W-9 tax form, if necessary.

In addition, consider hiring a service contractor for regular maintenance. For example, have your facility’s HVAC units checked on a regular basis. The tech will review the machines, recharge the coolant, check the air handlers and replace the filters. This not only allows them to work at optimum level in terms of cooling and energy use, it allows a tech address problems before they become more expensive issues. Plus, when your facility is faced with a larger maintenance concern, you’ll already have a company you trust to diagnose your problem.

Initially, you’re rolling the dice whenever you hire a new service contractor. However, the longer you work with the company, the more your level of trust will increase. Speak with multiple candidates, ask questions, and diligently review their work to build a great stable of service professionals.

Matthew Van Horn is a member of the operations team at Reliant Real Estate Management LLC, a full-service self-storage management company specializing in acquisitions, feasibility studies, management and joint ventures within the self-storage industry. He’s also president of 3 Mile Domination, a full-service self-storage marketing and strategy company. For more information, visit and

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