November 1, 1997

6 Min Read
MaintenanceA full-time job at any facility


A full-time job at any facility

By Pamela Alton

There are several reasons why a tenant will choose to rent at your facility, including:location, convenience, hours of operation, price, cleanliness and attention tomaintenance. You do not have to have a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility with videocameras, door alarms, etc., to run rings around your competition if it is clean andwell-maintained.

Take a look at your site through the eyes of a prospective tenant. Would you rent atyour facility? People choose to use storage for a number of reasons, but one thing iscertain: They are storing because they believe their items are valuable. Otherwise, theywouldn't pay rent each month to keep their goods. Does your manager receive plenty ofcalls and get people to come and visit the facility, yet they don't choose to store there?Could it be because the facility is dirty, run-down and in need of major repairs? Mostprospective tenants will come visit the facility they are considering to store at beforethey actually move their items into a unit. The first impression means everything.

Maintenance of a facility should be a full-time job for your onsite manager. Keep inmind that there is more to maintaining a facility than just running a broom around thefloor of a vacant unit. Maintenance and cleanliness mean different things to differentpeople. Don't assume your manager has the skills or the knowledge it takes to maintainyour facility. Show them what is expected of them and make sure you give them the tools todo their job effectively.

Interior Maintenance

Obviously, the manager must keep all vacant units swept, clean of dirt and debris, andfree of insects and rodents. The facility should be sprayed regularly to keep insects atbay, and rodent poison should also be placed in each unit. Look up at the ceiling in aunit and make sure all cob-webs are removed. It wouldn't hurt to place a copy of yourfacility's rules and regulations, along with a list of items that are illegal to store, onthe inside wall of the unit. Hallways, stairs and elevator shafts should be swept and keptclean. Hallway lighting should be checked daily, and any burnt-out bulbs should bereplaced immediately. When your manager does his morning "walk down," takingextra locks for overlocks, he should also bring a notepad and pencil, and a small broomand a dustpan so that he may accomplish several tasks and save some time.

Keeping hallways, stairwells and entryways swept will give interior units awell-maintained look. This tells the prospective tenant that the manager cares about hisfacility; in turn, the tenant will feel good about storing their good with your company.Make a note here that using blowers in the hallway does not keep them clean--the dirt anddust just goes into the air and right back down again. You might consider getting apush-type of sweeper that has revolving bristles. It can be pushed down the hallway, itpicks up a lot of dirt, and it can be attached to the back of an electric cart so it canbe pulled behind to sweep the driveways. This does wear out the bristles faster, but yourmanager can do this daily and keep his driveways neat and clean without hiring an outsidedriveway-sweeping service. The interior and exterior roll-up doors should be dusted on aregular basis also.

Exterior Maintenance

The exterior grounds should be kept clean, lighting should be adequate, and flags,banners and signs should all be in good condition and replaced when necessary. Drivethrough your facility in the evening and look for places where lighting could be improvedand to see how well-lit your signage is. Landscaping should be trimmed and wellmaintained, any large trees should be pruned, and worn-out plants and shrubs should bereplaced. If you have extensive landscaping, hire a landscaping company. If your manageris doing his job correctly, he has enough to do besides spending his time gardening.

The same goes for the maintenance of or electronic gates, elevators or lifts. Theyshould be inspected by a licensed, reputable company experienced in servicing these items.Your manager can do minor repairs; however, I would advise hiring outside contractors forany major repair work.

The following list includes some of the tools and items your manager will need to dohis job:

  • Electric golf cart

  • Charger

  • Extension cords

  • Carts, dolly (hand and refrigerator)

  • Ladder

  • Driveway sweeper

  • Brooms (push and regular)

  • Dust pans

  • Electric drill

  • Light bulbs

  • Rags

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Bathroom supplies (toilet brush, etc.)

  • Miscellaneous tools (wrenches, etc.)

  • Bug spray and rodent poison

  • Facility signs (gate and office hours, closed holiday, etc.)

  • Overlocks (keyed alike, 100, red)

  • Vacancy tags and keyed-alike locks (100, yellow or green)

Annual Assessment

Each year you should assess the condition of your facility and make note of any majorrepairs or deferred maintenance that must be addressed. Collect bids in advance for therepair work so that you may build it into your annual budget. If you have asphaltdriveways, you need to have any cracks repaired and the whole facility resealed every twoto three years. Each year, have your roofs inspected. Patch spots that may cause leaks inthe future, have any skylights resealed and dented downspouts replaced. A new coat ofpaint on the exterior buildings and interior hallways can make a world of difference. A20-year-old facility can have years taken off with a fresh coat of paint. Even roll-updoors have been successfully repainted for a fraction of the replacement cost.

Office and Apartment

Another area for consideration is your facility office. Is it time to update it bypurchasing new office equipment, replacing flooring or carpeting, installing new countertops, or putting on a fresh coat of paint? What about the onsite apartment? Does it neednew carpeting, flooring, counter tops, appliances or painting? Make sure you sit down withthe manager each year and discuss the condition of your facility, office and apartment.Receive at least three bids for improvements and add the cost into your annual budget.

Maintenance of your facility is the responsibility of your manager, and it is theowner's responsibility to supply the manager with the necessary tools and funds toaccomplish their tasks. If you have more than 1,000 units, you will want to consider afull-time maintenance man to help your manager. By keeping your facility clean and in goodrepair, you can extend the life of your investment, your manager will experience the prideof ownership and people will want to rent at your site.

Pamela Altonis the owner of Mini-Management®, the largest nationwide manager-placementservice serving the self-storage industry. Mini-Management also offers full-service andoperations-only property management, policy and procedures manuals, sales and marketingtraining manuals, inspections and audits, consulting and training seminars nationwide. Formore information on the various services offered by Mini-Management, call (800) 646-4648.

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