This weekend I'm working to save some of my cat's nine lives by renovating a loft railing that's lead to feline falls. In addition to greater safety, the refurbishment will create a more pleasing appearance with the addition of decorative fixtures. In self-storage, a facility-upgrade project can create curb appeal, a more secure environment and a more robust business. This free downloadable resource will show you how.

Teri Lanza

August 24, 2012

4 Min Read
Creating Business Solutions Through Facility Renovation

I have three cats. I also live in a two-story home with a loft, and a high loft railing on which they love to play chase and daredevil. Now, we've all heard that cats have nine lives, but probably few of us have actually seen one of them get burned up right before our eyes. I've personally witnessed a cat life sizzle into a wisp of mist ... twice! Both times it was like moist fingers vanquishing a smoldering match, and my heart caught in my chest. Both times, it was because of that treacherous loft railing.

Our fearless cat, who we now call The first time, our youngest male cat was running down the balustrade when he lost his footing and slipped. I was in the loft at the time. This will sound hackneyed, but it's true: Everything happened in an instant, and yet time slowed to an agonizing crawl. I ran to grab him, but I was too late. My hands snatched at empty air. I could only watch as he plunged splay-legged to the ground, hit the floor in a frenzy of hair and claws, and ran behind the nearest piece of furniture. I was near hysterical. The cat (albeit spooked) was physically unharmed. But poof! There went a cat life.

It was at that point my husband and I covered the railing top in sandpapery, non-slip tread tape, the kind frequently used on gymnasium floors. As ugly as it was, we hoped it would address the danger, but it was not enough.

The second occurrence was more harrowing because of its eerie silence. It was late, and I was sitting on the couch, the loft above me to the right. Our girl kitty had fallen asleep on a bookcase along the railing edge. In her slumber, she must have attempted to roll and stretch. I remember seeing her limp body fall in my peripheral vision. There wasn't a sound, just that dreadful shadow of an image. Before I fully understood what was happening, she had come into her senses and run for cover. Once again, I was breathless and in panic. She was thankfully unscathed. Poof No. 2.

I share this with you because my husband and I will spend part of this weekend progressing a more extensive railing renovation we hope will conclusively prevent future accidents. We've moved from surface coatings to physical extensions, attaching decorative finials that will greatly impede our cats' access to the area and spruce up the structure to boot. It's a far more costly and time-consuming solution, but one that should serve two purposes: safety and aesthetics.

When it comes to renovating a home, upgrades don't always guarantee a greater property value or return on investment. In self-storage, however, a facility refurbishment can create curb appeal, a more secure environment and a more robust business, making a quantifiable, positive impact on the bottom line. How?

In competitive markets, most self-storage operators could use an edge to attract and keep customers, one that doesn't involve giving away rent. Features and amenities are the best ways to differentiate your facility from others in the community and impress residents. They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but let's face it: Self-storage often gets a bad rap because of its frequently industrial appearance. An upscale design can lure the desired customer base and put prospects at ease.

In addition, planning and zoning boards are more welcoming to aesthetically pleasing projects. Many now require that self-storage blend architecturally with commercial and residential buildings, taking on a more classic look. It's common these days to see facility offices and buildings sporting fashionable design elements such as towers, natural wood and stone facades, ornate doors and windows, and lush landscaping.

If yours is an older storage facility, remodeling may provide the boost you need to make a fresh impression, draw new business, and garner community approval.

So, now that you know all this, could you use some guidance? Maybe get an idea of what to do next or what to expect during a renovation project? Get some tips and advice from our latest digital issue, "Self-Storage Facility Refurbishing." This free resource includes articles on where to begin, important items to consider, steps to follow, real-life case studies and more.

Design plays an increasingly important role in self-storage. It can improve the value of a property, not just when it is sold, but during every customer exposure. If you're looking to increase curb appeal, compete in a tough market, and attract more business, consider some key upgrades. Already working on a renovation project or completed one recently? What was your experience? Please share your insights or even some photos on the blog! Insider pointers are priceless.

In the meantime, wish me luck on my save-the-cats crusade. I'm not eager to see anymore kitty lives go up in smoke.  

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