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Customer experience and competitive edge are critical in self-storage operation today. If you want to improve both, one smart approach is to renovate your management office for greater efficiency, aesthetics and comfort. The author shares important reasons to refresh your space, areas on which to focus and tips for execution.

Diane Gibson

December 9, 2023

6 Min Read
Advantage Storage in Flower Mound, Texas

Given today’s highly competitive self-storage environment, savvy operators are seeking ways to streamline their business, use resources more efficiently and enhance the customer experience. A good way to accomplish all three is to renovate your facility’s management office. Let’s look at all the reasons a refresh may be the way to go, areas to target, and important considerations for project execution.

Why Update Your Office?

There are many advantages to modernizing your self-storage management office. To begin, it can provide an opportunity to improve workspace layout and functionality, which leads to increased productivity. As time goes on, you may find that certain areas of your office are less efficient than they used to be or are simply outdated. Onsite staff know better than anyone the deficiencies that should be corrected, as they work in the space every day; so, consult them for their input.

A better office improves the customer experience. Just like your exterior curb appeal, it can create a lasting first impression on potential customers. It also reinforces your commitment to providing quality service and amenities for existing tenants. Updating to a more modern, welcoming and bright environment can make visitors feel more comfortable and confident in the facility and how it’s run.

Another benefit to an office upgrade is it helps you maintain market relevance. Many older self-storage facilities must compete against newer sites with all the latest bells and whistles. Customers are known to gravitate toward facilities with a modern, accommodating look vs. those that seem outdated, dark and dingy. And let’s face it: Your furniture, equipment and flooring will show wear and tear over time. It makes sense to examine all high-traffic, high-touch areas to see what needs to be fixed or changed. Not only will you extend the longevity of your office components, you’ll infuse new life into the environment; and this more contemporary aesthetic will help you stay current with your customer base.

A well-planned office will also help you manage operational costs. For example, windows and doors can be upgraded to be more energy efficient. Switching to LED lighting will lower your electric bills. Toilets can be switched out to save water. Though these may seem like little things, together they can add up to significant long-term savings.

Finally, a renovation may open the door to new self-storage revenue streams. As your business evolves, an office update may allow you to engage in new activities that better suit your needs and goals. For example, you might expand your retail offerings or add new products and services to the mix such as packing and shipping, truck rentals, wine storage, and more.

Areas to Consider

Now that we’ve discussed some of the compelling reasons to update your self-storage management office, let’s consider key areas that deserve attention.

Accessibility. Your office should be easily accessible by all customers, including those with disabilities. If it isn’t, the business could be vulnerable to liability. Assess the space to ensure it meets current regulatory and compliance standards.

Branding. Maybe it’s time to bolster your interior branding. Your office should convey pride in your corporate identity! Weave company colors and the logo into the design. Signage should be clear, visible, professional and easy to read.

Lighting. This is very important. While using natural light is encouraged whenever possible, new LED fixtures can create a bright, welcoming environment. If you have a large office, you can use lighting to draw focus to specific areas, such as retail merchandise.

Climate. Depending on your location, consider what office design works best to support proper heating and cooling. The goal is to maintain a comfortable environment year-round for customers and staff while being mindful of energy efficiency. For example, if you’re in an extremely hot region like Arizona, place windows to face away from the scorching sun.

Security. More in this area is always welcome by customers and employees. Surveillance cameras and even panic buttons in the office are a reassuring presence, adding a layer of protection to your overall system and presenting a very professional image.

FFE (flooring, furniture and fixtures). Flooring is always an important consideration for a self-storage office. Choose something that looks good but is also durable and easy to clean (staff will thank you).

Similarly, choose furniture that’s comfortable but functional. Again, consult your onsite team. Not only will they appreciate having their opinions heard, they’ll be more productive using items they like.

Storage. Find the right ways to help keep the office organized and clutter-free. Consider shelving, cabinets or other solutions to ensure all supplies and equipment have the perfect place and important documents are safely secured.

Technology. Make sure the tools you’re using are equipped to handle current and future business needs. Your computers, printers, network and management software should all operate efficiently.

Executing the Plan

Once you’ve decided on the office improvements you’d like to make at your self-storage facility, you want the project to go smoothly. First and foremost, it’s important to involve the site staff in the renovation process. A well-designed space can positively impact morale and job performance. Employees are more likely to provide excellent customer service when they’re happy and comfortable in their environment, so ask what they need to be more productive in their workspace.

Also bear in mind that building and zoning codes as well as safety regulations can change over time. It’s important that your facility remains compliant. Depending on the scope of your renovation project, it may be a good time to revisit regulatory items and ensure your new office meets all standards and requirements.

Make sure your project budget and timeline are realistic. As we’ve seen over the past few years, renovations can face unexpected delays and cost increases. Fortunately, not all self-storage office improvements are invasive or come with a high price tag. Something as simple as a fresh color scheme can make a big difference.

Once you know your renovation timeline, set a plan for communicating with tenants. You’ll want to notify them of the project in advance and provide an anticipated completion date. You can use phone, text and email for this. Assure them that you will remain open for business, and make sure they know of any potential disruption. For example, will they need to enter the property or office a different way? Will office hours change?

By carefully considering all these aspects to your self-storage office refresh, you can create an appealing, efficient and customer-friendly environment. Ultimately, this can be a worthy investment that allows you to attract and retain tenants, improve operational efficiency, and create a more enjoyable environment for tenants and staff.

Diane Gibson is owner and president of Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc., which manages self-storage facilities in Arizona. As the immediate-past president of the Arizona Self Storage Association, she’s participated in roundtables and panels at the organization’s conferences. For more information, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Diane Gibson

Owner and President, Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc.

Diane Gibson is the owner and president of Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc., which manages self-storage facilities in Arizona. Currently president of the Arizona Self Storage Association, she’s participated in roundtables and panels at the association’s conferences. For more information, email [email protected]; visit www.armored-mini-storage.com.

 

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