Seven Design Essentials for Efficient Self-Storage Operation

Several design elements that affect self-storage operational efficiency should be considered in the blueprints phase, long before groundbreaking begins.

August 24, 2008

3 Min Read
Seven Design Essentials for Efficient Self-Storage Operation

Self-storage management companies are frequently asked to review new projects when the facilities are almost ready to open. While there are a lot of things a management company can assist with at that time, it really would have been better for a review or consult much earlier in the process.

Too often, simple things are missed, and it's easier to do it right the first time rather than retrofit. Before you start to build, consider the following points to ensure your facility is more operationally efficient.

1. Water

Make sure water is in or near the climate-controlled building, office, etc. Look at the plans as if you were the one who would be responsible for mopping and cleaning. The easier the access to water, the easier it will be for the manager to keep the site spotless. A mop sink and hose bibs in the right places are essential.

2. Electricity

When it comes time to cut disk locks, managers frequently use a grinder, which requires electricity. Ensure outlets are strategically placed during the building phase for this task to be accomplished. Also, make the outlets lockable to restrict use.

3. Light Bulbs

Many builders install 8-foot light fixtures, which are cumbersome for a single manager to change. Some managers wait until several bulbs burn out before replacing, making your facility look unkempt. Four-foot bulbs can be changed by one person immediately so your facility is always well lit. Put them on the list of necessities.

4. Fire Doors and Extinguishers

Try to eliminate as many fire doors as possible in your facility. Statistics show that 70 percent of your tenants will be female, who will likely feel uncomfortable walking through doors in a big building. Also, recess extinguishers into the wall to prevent them from being knocked off the wall by moving carts. By reducing their visibility, you will also reduce the possibility of theft.

5. Intercom and Sound System

You might consider piping in soft background music to make the facility more pleasing and comforting to your mainly female clientele. In addition, an intercom system that enables renters to reach the office from several locations is good customer service and can be a timesaver for tenants and management alike.

6. Restrooms

Consider having an accessible bathroom for tenants visiting their units after office hours, otherwise you may be setting yourself up for some really unwanted extra maintenance issues. Use a keypad to control entry if you anticipate problems. Restroom cleanliness should be a top priority for management.

7. Staff Break Room

Provide an area where staff can keep extra supplies and personal items out of customer view. The front desk should be clean and neat at all times, not cluttered with purses, coats or lunches. Having a small break room allows managers to eat their lunches in private, not spread out on the customer counter.

Spending time in advance thinking about the day-to-day functions of storage can really help your project be more successful in the long run. It is easier and cheaper to incorporate these and other items into your plan while it is still on paper rather than trying to retrofit after the fact. Don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional to assure your design plans have all the necessary items to keep your facility operating efficiently.

Linnea Appleby is president of Sarasota, Fla.-basedPDQ Management Solutions Inc., which provides full-service facility management, consulting, startup, auditing, management and training services. She is also the managing director for the Florida Self Storage Association. For information, call 941.377.3151; visit

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like