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February 1, 1999

3 Min Read


DEAR WALDMANS: Please help me. My facility looks more like a tar lot than astorage facility--and I don't mean a car lot either. I manage a storage facility andreally enjoy my work. The problem is that I am a neat freak and I want the entire businessto look as if it was just inhabited by Storage Maids Inc. I believe neatness is one of themost important assets in a facility, and when my customers walk through the front door, Iwant them to be impressed by our immaculate office. The rest of the facility looks just asgreat as the office, I might add.

There is one problem, though, and it's occurring more and more. Oil spots from tenants'vehicles or sometimes storage trucks and buses are staining our parking lot. It hasdeveloped into somewhat of a disaster. I have tried everything to remove these stainscaused from the leaky vehicles, but the entire lot is concrete, so the stains shows uplike tar spots. It totally ruins the image of the storage facility. I realize my tenantsdon't understand my philosophy for neatness, but this really irritates me. Without losingmy temper with the tenants, what is the solution to this problem?

--Tar Lot in Melbourne, Fla.

DEAR TAR LOT: It sounds like your facility is something right out of ahome-decorating magazine. I would love to take a tour of your facility--it would certainlybe nice to see such a neat and clean place. It sounds like you have tried just abouteverything to keep the lot cleaned from stains. It's really tough having concrete as yourparking lot for the very reason that it shows a lot of grease, oil and dirt. For someoneas particular as you are, I understand this could be very nerve-racking.

It is difficult to tell your customers that their truck or car is leaking oil and youwant them to fix it because it ruins the image of your facility. This is also a good wayto lose business, since most of your tenants have probably rented a truck or used a movingcompany to transfer their goods. By all means, don't lose your temper and take the leaksout on the tenants. I can see it now: hot, tired individuals having moved furniture allday in the heat, and here comes the manager to tell them their truck is leaking fluid. Canyou imagine what a scene that would make? Not only would they probably assume you were alittle crazy, but also consider taking their business elsewhere. And I'm sure yourfacility owner would not be happy with that solution to your problem.

So calm down and try just one more thing: kitty litter. Believe it or not, kitty litteris great to soak up the oil. We have tried all the expensive oil absorption products,scrubbed and rubbed, and found kitty litter is almost as good and a lot less expensive.Just spread a good amount of it over the oil spot and let it sit for awhile. It willactually draw the oil from the concrete. Remember, nothing works all the time, butsomething is better than nothing.

A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.

E-mail: [email protected]; Web: www.askthewaldmans.com

Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

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