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As Security Plays a Bigger Role at Your Self-Storage Facility, So Must System Maintenance

As self-storage security systems become more robust and technologically advanced, performing routine maintenance and troubleshooting can seem complicated. Learn some effective strategies for keeping your modern components running smoothly.

Sarah Davis

February 1, 2022

6 Min Read
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Security has always played a role in attracting and retaining self-storage tenants. As the demand for enhanced features and convenient property access has grown, facility operators have installed an increasingly advanced array of technology. Now, they just need to figure out how to maintain it.

Do you know which of your security components require regular maintenance and at what intervals? If you experience an equipment-related problem, do you know how to troubleshoot it? If not, you’ve got homework to do. These activities aren’t only vital in sustaining the health of your system, they’re essential to protecting your buildings, staff, tenants and their possessions, not to mention your business reputation. Let’s explore why it’s necessary and worthwhile to implement an effective maintenance strategy for your self-storage security system and specific areas on which to focus.

Operational Impact

Security-system maintenance provides several significant advantages. Ultimately, it supports the sustainability and profitability of your self-storage business. It facilitates:

Improved access for tenants. When customers can’t get into your property or their own units, it has a direct, negative impact on their experience with your business. It also create problems for your staff, as it creates more work and disrupts their daily routine. By regularly inspecting and maintaining your gates and other entry points, you can ensure tenants have access to the right areas at the right times, and employees have less to worry about.

Streamlined site inspections. In the past, these were time-intensive, because staff had to physically inspect the entire facility. Now, cloud-enabled security systems allow them to check much of the property remotely from almost anywhere. This is much more efficient, but it does require the proper security platforms and devices, and they must be maintained.

Reduced response times. Market-leading self-storage operators rely on smart cameras and other internet-connected devices to monitor their interiors and perimeter in real-time. Routine maintenance of your devices ensures that when a security incident does arise, you’ll be able to respond immediately.

Increased return on investment. Security technology should be considered an investment, just like any other mission-critical addition. As owners continue to upgrade and expand their infrastructure, maintenance is crucial to generating income vs. creating a burdensome cost center.

Seamless data security. This is often overlooked, but data security just as important as physical security. Whether caused by a malicious actor or the crash of an onsite server, data loss or theft can be devastating. Routine maintenance of hardware and software components guarantees the seamless availability of data and the overall integrity of the system.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Most self-storage security systems feature a constantly evolving mix of software and hardware, and each component will have its own requirements for upkeep. This is why maintenance and troubleshooting can be a challenge, even for experienced facility operators. Here are several items to prioritize and how frequently they should be inspected or serviced.

Keypads (monthly). On the front line of your customer experience, keypads are highly visible and get a lot of use. If they don’t function properly, everyone suffers. Maintenance should begin with a monthly inspection. Make sure the LCD screen is readable, buttons work properly and there’s no visible damage. Enter a valid code to verify that it displays the appropriate message and opens the correct door or gate. If the system is designed to accept fobs, test one. Finally, make sure each entry/exit event is recorded in the access-control system. If you notice an issue with any aspect of your keypads, contact a qualified technician as soon as possible.

Gates (monthly). Your gates need to operate effectively and continually. It’s crucial to monitor their condition at least once per month. Look for signs of physical damage, and ensure they lock and unlock properly. If your gate works with a mobile app, test its touchless functionality. If it’s equipped with a motor backup, make sure the battery is charged and capable of operating the gate during a power outage. If necessary, replace the battery. Contact a qualified technician to resolve more advanced problems.

Cameras and lighting (monthly). These are both table stakes in self-storage security, essential for securing all areas of the property. Conduct a monthly inspection to ensure all devices are free of obstructions and in good working order. Make sure any motion-activated or internet-connected devices function properly, and check your cameras’ recording capabilities. Replace damaged equipment as soon as possible. Finally, enlist the assistance of a certified camera technician to resolve issues with network connectivity or smart functionality.

Door alarms (biannually). You know what they say: Out of sight, out of mind. You may not even think about your alarms until a security event occurs. In fact, self-storage operators often don’t know about malfunctioning alarms until it’s too late.

At least twice per year, perform spot checks by intentionally triggering the alarms on a handful of vacant units. Verify that they function as expected and the correct alarm sounds for each. To maintain constant visibility to the status of all facility alarms, consider upgrading to an access-control solution with real-time monitoring capabilities. If you’ve already implemented an access-control platform, run a report to identify units with low battery levels and replace any transmitter batteries listed there.

Smart locks (biannually). These provide added security and convenience for customers, but a single malfunction can jeopardize your retention rate. When tenants lose confidence in the protection of their units, it can be difficult to regain their trust.

Every six months, select several self-storage units at random (vacant or rented) and verify that the smart locks open and close when instructed. If a lock fails, perform a visual inspection. One of the leading causes of faults is improper door closure. Also, run a battery report of all smart locks from your access-control platform and replace batteries where necessary.

Data backups (weekly/daily). Again, data security is crucial. A single breach or snafu not only compromises business information, it jeopardizes your ability to operate, especially if you’re unable to recover and restore lost data quickly.

If your facility-management platform is cloud-based, maintenance is relatively simple. Just check to ensure your technology partner is backing up your data regularly. If you happen to store your data on an a local server, you’ll need to back it up at least weekly and keep copies both onsite and off.

When to Seek Help

Complex security-system maintenance should never be on your do-it-yourself project list. There’s simply too much at stake. A single failure exposes tenants and their belongings to threats and disrupts facility operation. A failed repair attempt can even damage connected system components, creating additional costs and vulnerabilities.

A better approach is to enlist the help of a certified technician to troubleshoot problems. You may also want to consider working with a security integrator, who can coordinate and connect various hardware and software components, optimizing the performance of your security system and maximizing its value to your business. In addition to ensuring all the pieces work together properly, a local security integrator can ensure the continuity of your system through onsite support.

Security can make or break your self-storage business, so you can’t afford to ignore routine maintenance. By conducting inspections and service at regular intervals and quickly resolving issues, you can ensure your system is up to the task of protecting tenants’ valuables and giving your operation a competitive edge.

Sarah Davis is a marketing and public-relations specialist for PTI Security Systems, a global provider of access-control technology solutions for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.523.9504; email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Sarah Davis

Marketing Specialist, PTI Security Systems

Sarah Davis is a marketing and public-relations specialist for PTI Security Systems, a global provider of access-control technology solutions for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.523.9504; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.ptisecurity.com.

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