You see it all the time—a sign on the door of a business that reads, “Closed for Renovation.” When your favorite restaurant, coffee shop or retail store is shut for remodeling, you might roll your eyes and walk away a little annoyed. Then, a few weeks later, voila! The property is back up and running, and in no time, you’ve forgotten it ever happened.
We all know how renovations work, but have you stopped to think about why large corporations such as McDonald’s and Target spend millions of dollars to revamp their stores? The answer is simple: They understand the positive impact it can have on the bottom line. They have dedicated teams who research the return on investment of proper maintenance, building expansions and replacements.
Luckily for smaller companies, it doesn’t require a lot of time or a huge investment of capital to transform and modernize a business, increasing revenue and remaining competitive. In fact, many self-storage investors are deliberately and meticulously acquiring outdated facilities, upgrading them to overhaul the customer experience at a minimal cost.
Why is it important to invest in facility renovation? There are many reasons, but they all culminate at one overarching point: to stay competitive in today’s market. Time isn’t on the side of older facilities. Doors break down and paint fades; break-ins can occur because of outdated security. It’s critical to stay relevant in your area. If your competition is offering new doors and buildings, advanced security, and other upgrades, you need to rise to the occasion!
Your customers aren’t just shopping for space, they’re looking for an all-around pleasant experience that caters to their needs with convenient elements, such as 24-hour access. The average consumer is now younger, and this new demographic carries higher expectations for businesses. They want to know they’re valued. What’s more, they want to know a business values itself. Is this the image you’re projecting?
There are a few actions you can take to keep your storage facility competitive in a tough marketplace. Following are some common renovations that could help you turn a challenge into an opportunity.
General Curb Appeal
Let’s say a new self-storage competitor moves in across the street. Its exterior is top-notch in every sense. To passers-by it appears as upscale, secure and clean. How do you compete? What steps can you take to improve the exterior of your own site?
First, start at the ground level—literally! Invest in some easy-to-apply sod or grass seed to provide a lush, inviting, fresh appearance. Flowers and shrubs don’t hurt, either.
Installing faux storage doors on an exterior wall can be a great way to catch the eye of potential customers as they drive by. Having a brightly colored door peeking from behind a window on the outside of your building helps you stand out from competitors.
Doors and Reskins
As an easy aesthetic and functional upgrade, consider new roll-up or swing doors for your facility. Replacing aged and damaged doors isn’t only a worthwhile investment for your bank account, it’s a great way to help your tenants. New doors open and close without much effort and are far safer than outdated models. The visual appeal will also help tenants feel more valued. An upgraded facility is just a more enjoyable place to visit!
Another option you could pursue is a door reskin in which only the exterior is replaced. During this process, doors often don’t even have to be opened. This is an affordable option to a full replacement that’s more sensible than just slapping on another layer of paint. An entire hallway can be reskinned in just 24 hours. If you really think about it, can you afford not to consider a reskin project for your facility?
A Layout Remix
If your facility layout hasn’t been strategically analyzed, you’re probably not getting the most from your investment. Every nook and cranny needs to be used to optimize your space and maximize your return.
If you have some extra parking space, for example, consider adding some portable units for drive-up storage. Are there any oddly shaped corners or awkward areas in your interior hallways? Think about adding some small storage lockers in those places. Younger clientele living in small apartments often don’t have space to store things like seasonal clothing and camping equipment. Smaller locker-style units are a perfect solution for them and will bring new revenue to your business.
Does your facility struggle with break-ins and vandalism? There’s no need to panic. Instead, focus on positive changes that prevent crime and deter theft. While security cameras can be a preventive, they’re more reactive than proactive. You need to think one step ahead of criminals.
Consider some of the latest technology available in the industry, such as “smart locks,” which can be installed on unit doors and gates. This will provide renewed peace of mind for tenants as well as site managers, who can use them to grant and revoke facility access through the cloud.
Another benefit of implementing smart locks is the ability to enter the next wave of self-storage: unattended facilities, or those that operate without an onsite manager or other full-time employees. The customer-service aspect of the business doesn’t waver and, in some cases, can be even better than a traditional staffing model. Additional technology for unmanned sites includes kiosks, packing-supply vending machines, video-interface robots and more.
The self-storage industry has arrived at a crossroads. There are owners who are ready to move forward and meet the future with change and innovation, but there are also those who aren’t willing to invest in upgrades or adopt new technology that will appeal to potential customers. If operators drag their feet in the renovation race, it won’t be long before reality hits and early-improvement adopters will lead the pack.
Rachael Wheeler is a copywriter for Janus International Group LLC, a global manufacturer of turnkey self-storage building and security solitons, including roll-up and swing doors, hallway systems, portable-storage solutions, door-replacement programs, and the SecurGuard mobile-entry system. To reach her, call 770.562.2850; visit www.janusintl.com.