By Pamela Alton
Spring and summer always seem to be the busiest time of year in the self-storage industry. People are changing jobs, moving to new homes, or relocating to new cities or states. College students are going home for the summer, and business need places to store their more seasonal items. Now’s the time to get your facility ready for this surge in activity. Freshen it up and outshine your competition! Here are some inexpensive yet important ways to improve your profitability.
You know the old saying, “You only have one chance to make a good impression!” How do you think your facility looks to prospective tenants as they pull up to your gate and office? Go outside and approach your facility with a fresh set of eyes. Take a good look at what someone sees for the first time when visiting to your site. Take a notepad while doing your walk-around so you can keep track of everything you see.
Let’s start with the signage. Is it clean, well-lit and attractive? Does it need new lettering or is it time to replace the whole thing? Do you have an American flag, or other brightly colored flags or banners? If so, how often do you change, rotate or replace them? Winter can take its toll on these items, so they need to be replaced regularly. Don’t forget new banners for summer specials! The cost is minimal compared to the return they bring.
Next, let’s look at the landscaping. Does it give the best impression? Does the lawn need mowing, fertilizing or weeding? Is it time to add or replace bushes, small trees or flower beds? Pots containing annual flowers not only look pretty but can add a pop of color to an otherwise industrial façade. Decorative rock or bark can really clean up planted areas, are cost-effective and provide a sharp new look. If you outsource your landscaping, is the company doing a good job or is it time to get bids for a new one?
Don’t forget to repaint your handicapped spaces, reline other parking spaces, and paint any yellow or red poles and curbs in front of your office. Paint is inexpensive and will dress up your entry, making it look fresh and clean.
Now let’s move into the office, starting with the windows and doors. Winter means snow and rain in many parts of the country, which can make your entry look dirty. Now's the time to hose off the front and clean your glass. If your front door isn't glass, it may need repainting. You may also need to replace the office and gate signs.
If you have room, add a new park bench out front for people to enjoy while others are in the office. Put a cigarette-butt disposal beside it along with a barrel full of colorful flowers. You'd be surprised how something that simple can brighten up an area and add to your curb appeal.
Once you’ve finished this exterior clean-up, step inside the office. How’s that impression? Consider:
- Does it smell clean and fresh?
- Are the floors, carpeting and office furnishings clean and in good condition?
- Does the flooring need to be cleaned and waxed?
- Do the rubber entry mats need to be cleaned or replaced?
- Are your blinds dusty or have broken slats?
- Is it time to repaint the office?
- Is it well-lit, or do you need to replace the bulbs?
- Is the wall art current, or does it look like it belongs in the Bates Motel?
- Is it time to toss that old silk Ficus plant in the dumpster?
- Are your office signs faded, dirty or drab?
- Is the counter uncluttered, clean and polished and in good repair?
- Do you have tenant-insurance brochures displayed in a nice stand or neat pile?
- Do the office chairs need to be replaced?
- Is it time to purge old files? If so, call in a company that specializes in document shredding.
- Have the lien laws in your state changed? When was the last time you updated your leases, addendums or facility forms?
- Do you need to update your brochures and website with summer specials or discounts, or social media information?
- Are your retail items displayed neatly with clear pricing?
- Is it time to order new retail items or displays?
- Finally, do your managers need new shirts and name tags?
Now is also a great time to discuss and refresh your sales techniques. How are your phone presentations, customer-service skills and collection efforts? Do you or other staff members need additional training?
If you don’t have a designated person to provide training, there are several companies that offer it. Also consider attending an industry tradeshow or look for online resources. Old habits are hard to be break. However, with a little effort and a refresher course, you can boost the income at your facility!
Again, walk around your property and look at it through the eyes of a customer. Do this during the day and at night so you can view the lighting and signage. Are all the lights working and bright?
Consider deferred maintenance items. Is it time to resurface or patch the asphalt? Are the exterior doors clean? Do all units have a tenant lock or, if vacant, a company lock? Are there overlocks on all delinquent units or any that should be removed?
Look at your perimeter. Are there any places that can be breached? How are the buildings, gutters and downspouts? Are they banged up? Are all the buildings visibly marked so a tenant can easily find the right one, even at night?
Now enter the hallways. Are they free of debris, cobwebs, trash, etc.? Are all the doors clean and dust-free? Open all the vacant units. Are they clean and ready to rent? Is the lighting bright and exit signs lit and easy to read? Are carts easily accessible? Are the stairwells clean?
Don’t forget about the company units and maintenance room. Are they orderly so tools are easy to find? Is it time to replace brooms, dust pans, cleaning supplies and so on? Do you need to order items for the fall and winter months?
Your facility needn't be state-of-the-art facility to be well-maintained and clean. Most improvements are inexpensive, and money spent now will provide increased income, tenant retention and referrals down the road. Having great curb appeal and maintenance, as well as a knowledgeable and helpful staff, will make your spring/summer busy season a profitable one.
Pamela Alton is the owner of Mini-Management Services, a nationwide manager-placement service that also offers audits and inspections, training, feasibility studies, and due-diligence inspections. To reach her, call 321.890.2245; e-mail [email protected].