One of my favorite shows is HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” It follows a Texas couple, Joanna and Chip Gaines, who renovate old houses “in the best neighborhoods” into their clients’ dream home. In the beginning of each episode, they show their clients three homes, each in desperate need of serious repairs. This might include a new roof, floors and paint, to a complete remodel by knocking out walls or building an addition.
A catchphrase from the show, enthusiastically spoken by Chip, is “It’s demo day.” It’s essentially the first step toward turning something old into something new again.
If you own an older self-storage property, it may be time for your very own “demo day.” If you’re like most operators, you’re facing new competition these days. And even if you have a great location and offer stellar customer service, it may be harder to compete as many people are drawn to what’s shiny and new. While you can’t turn back the clock, you can refresh your property. From pretty landscaping to new doors to a complete property renovation, you have many options to renew your site and better compete with the new facilities popping up in your market. Consider the following:
Paint. A fresh coat of paint can take anything from drab to fab. Take a look at your office, unit doors, hallways and building exteriors. If they’re dull, grimy or just worn out, consider hiring a pro to restore them.
Landscaping. This lends itself to your customers’ first impression of your facility. Overgrown trees and bushes are image-killers. Ditto empty planters. If you want to keep your landscaping maintenance on the simple side, go for xeriscape designs. Not only do these plants cut down on water consumption, there are an abundance of types from which to choose. You can add a splash of color with a few strategically placed pots near the front door to your office.
The office (AKA your property’s hub). If you have a small office, can it be expanded? Or can you at least make better use of the space? Would getting rid of the large countertop in favor of two “rental stations” be more inviting? Can you reposition the entry to make more space? How about adding more windows? The goal is to make your office inviting and functional.
Façade renovation. Many older sites were built simply—and it shows. The materials and design are now outdated and have been beaten up by the weather. In this case, some old materials can be stripped away or covered with new ones. Architectural elements can also be added.
New structures. Sometimes, it’s best to start fresh. This may be the case if your office is too small to be adequate or if you have one or more storage buildings that can’t be brought back to life. If you have space, it could also be time to grow. Many operators have turned expansive parking lots into leasable space via new structures or vehicle parking.
These are just a handful of property-renovation ideas. You should also consider your building roof, unit mix, HVAC systems, asphalt and concrete, security components, signage, and more. If your occupancy levels are dipping, it might be time to address some of these lingering maintenance issues. Fair or not, your current and potential tenants are judging your business by how it looks, so make sure it shines!
What renovation project do you plan to tackle this year? Post a comment below or on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s biggest community.