A couple of days ago, my son’s car struggled to start. It eventually turned over, and he went to work as he had a new hire beginning that day. After work, the car sputtered again but fired up and he was able to head home. During his drive, he contemplated his options. He surmised the battery was likely the culprit. It was 8 p.m. on a Tuesday. He could stop off and purchase a battery and go through the trouble of replacing it on his own. Whether he had the tools and skills to do it weighed on his mind. The other option? Take it to a mechanic, avoid the headache and stress, but pay someone else to do the job. It was a conundrum.
As a self-storage operator, you’re often faced with similar decisions—should I do XYZ myself or hire someone else? For some operational tasks, like replacing a unit door, finding a contractor is the way to go. For others, though, the DIY route might be best. How do you decide?
First, do you have the tools to accomplish the task? For example, if your site has a good amount of landscaping that needs to be maintained, do you have a lawnmower, edger, trimmer and the other necessities to stay on top of it all. A self-storage facility’s curb appeal is critical for making a good impression on new and existing customers, so you can’t let these tasks take a backseat.
Next, is it worth your time? Again, let’s talk about landscaping. As the owner or manager, do you have the time to mow the lawn, trim trees and bushes, or replant flowers? If your landscaping is minimal, you might. Or perhaps you have a system that works well and these maintenance items are easy to fit into your weekly schedule. For many operators, however, it’s important to direct their time and energy to other aspects of their storage operation such as sales, collections and marketing.
Finally, do you have the skills? This one will vary depending on the job. While you can certainly handle some pest control, calling in an expert might be necessary in some situations. Gate operators and some unit door maintenance should also be handled by a pro.
To help you determine your path, check out the August issue of ISS. If you’re a subscriber, this issue will be hitting your mailbox or email in the next week. One of these articles was posted to the ISS website this week. Author Sarah Stapley of Crescendo Self Storage Management breaks down the benefits, options and how to ensure a successful partnership with your vendor company. It’s a great read for any operator who’s contemplating whether to outsource their marketing, management, human resources, maintenance and more.
Another topic covered in this issue is how to manage technology for your self-storage business. As storage facilities continue to incorporate more tech, the need for someone to manage it all has become a necessity. And there’s much to manage, from your security components to website to helping your tenants use your tech correctly. Again, this might fall on ownership or property management. However, outsourcing is an option, especially if you and your staff don’t have the time or necessary skills to cover all these crucial bases.
One way to get ahead of the game is to build a “smart” facility from day one or when renovating and improving your site. These sites incorporate technology into the design to create a high-performing property. You can learn more about the benefits, infrastructure and the smart industry products available in a new whitepaper by BETCO Inc.
As we continue to be bombarded with a never-ending to-do list, we must all evaluate what our time and energy is worth. For some, rolling up our sleeves and digging into a task will be the way to go. For others, finding someone else to do the job will be the answer.
As for my son’s car, it turns out he made the right decision by taking it to a mechanic. Not only was the battery failing, but there was another critical repair that was necessary. Had he not taken it in that day, he would’ve never known and it could’ve led to an even higher bill. It’s something to consider when you debate DYI vs. outsourcing.