With spring just days away, it’s time to think about getting your self-storage business ready for the upcoming rental season. How does your property look and function? Consider the following maintenance tips to spruce it up so you’re ready to welcome new renters.

Amy Campbell, Senior Editor

March 15, 2024

5 Min Read

Last weekend I went in search of a specific plant for my backyard. As I pulled into the parking lot of my local home-improvement store, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the bustle of activity in the garden area as March is planting season in Arizona. There were a number of people with carts and flatbeds loaded with assorted flowers, trees, soil, colorful bark, grass sod and various pots.

If you’re in a state in which the weather is beginning to warm a bit, you might have the same inclinations for your self-storage facility. Adding flowers might not be the only thing on your mind, though. With spring officially beginning on Tuesday, many self-storage operators are ready to shake off winter and prep their sites for a bustling spring and summer rental season. This can involve a range of activities for both the physical property and your operations. Let’s explore some!

Curb appeal. Obviously, this is a big one. Simply put: How does your facility look right now? If your answer is “meh” you might have some work to do. Every storage operator knows how your facility appears from the street is incredibly important. Of course, many prospects first shop online for storage, but they’ll arrive at your property at some point. What impression are you giving them? Is it clean, well-lit and -maintained? Or will they pull up and think, “Uh, nope. Not for me.” Take a look around and check these items:

  • Gates and keypads: This is a security and safety issue. If your gate isn’t performing properly, it could cause injury to a person or vehicle. Call in a professional every six months to give it a once-over and make sure it’s in quality condition. If the number one on your keypad tends to stick, the numbers are faded or the stand is leaning after being bumped by a vehicle, replace it.

  • Driveways and parking lot. Imagine a prospect turning into your parking lot only to hit a pothole 50 feet into their journey. Not a good first impression. It’s imperative to properly maintain your site’s asphalt. If you offer outdoor vehicle storage, how does the area look? Your spots should be clearly designated so there’s no confusion for tenants about where they should park.

  • Landscaping. While planting fresh flowers can be fun, you also need to pay attention to all those bushes and trees. Trim as needed and remove any that didn’t survive the winter. No one wants to look at a dead plant while walking up to your office. If you have grass, keep it trimmed and watch for weeds.

Buildings. Fortunately, storage buildings are pretty hardy! However, there are a few areas to examine. First, how does the paint look? Check out this video from a storage owner who recently upgraded his site’s appearance with a fresh coat. The transformation is remarkable!

Next, be sure to examine those downspouts for clogs and roofs for signs of weakness. Some proactive steps now can save huge problems later. Also, make sure your bollards look good. They might need painting or a fresh sleeve, which can be a great alternative.

Your unit doors also need careful review to ensure they’re working properly and look fresh. The weather can wreak havoc on this building component. They might need a thorough washing, fresh paint or to be replaced.

Finally, check your exterior and interior lighting. Replace burned-out bulbs immediately. Not only does this make your facility look mismanaged, but it’s a safety issue. Thinking about making the switch to LED lighting? They’ll last longer and can save up to 70% on light energy consumption. It’s worth some research.

Signage. Hopefully, your facility has tons of signage. This includes numbers on buildings and doors, emergency exits, posted rules, branding and so much more. Again, weather and time can cause fading and cracking. Review all your signage to see if the letters and numbers are clear and functioning as they should be.

Security. Any piece of technology can (and will) fail at some point. Regularly inspecting your security components is essential to keeping your site safe. Examine your fencing, video cameras, alarms and smart locks for signs of wear and tampering. If it’s time for an upgrade, do it now before the summer rental rush.

Pest control. It’s also time to activate your bug-b-gone plan. In a recent thread on the Self-Storage Talk online community, a member discussed their battle with brown widow spiders. If you work with a pest-control company, give them a call and discuss the best ways to keep your storage facility vermin-free this year.

Office and retail store. Your facility office is your customer hub and your workspace. It should be tidy, dust-free and well-lit. Don’t forget to wash the windows! Many operators are ditching the long counters that once dominated storage facility offices and opting for a more informal look with smaller desks or high-top tables and comfy chairs.

Now’s also the time to make sure your retail store is stocked and ready. Dust those displays, reorganize products, order supplies and ensure your pricing and signage are clear. No one wants to ask, “How much does this cost?”

Operations. While the physical aspects of your storage facility are important, so are the operational ones. Do you have a policy and procedures manual? How about a crisis-management plan? Have you revisited your rental agreement in the past six months? Many states have updated laws regarding vehicle towing and lien sales. Review your lease to make sure it’s current with these changes.

All this can seem a bit daunting … and it is. One way to wrap your head around it is by having a comprehensive maintenance plan. It can keep you on track not just when it’s time to gear up for the upcoming rental season but all year long. ISS produces an awesome guide that can help, too. Designed specifically for self-storage operators, the “Self-Storage Maintenance Package 2024: Monthly Task Calendars and Guide” includes detailed, customizable monthly calendars outlining maintenance tasks by day, week and season. It also includes a digital book brimming with expert advice.

Property maintenance will never be 100% complete, but it can be managed. Have a plan and address repairs promptly. This will ensure your self-storage facility is always ready to welcome new tenants, no matter the season.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Senior Editor, Inside Self Storage

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