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Prevention Is Best! Protecting Your Self-Storage Facility With an Effective Maintenance Plan

A well-kept self-storage facility will attract new customers and appease existing ones, but site maintenance is important for many other reasons. To start, if you don’t have a strategy for property upkeep, you might miss issues that are potentially dangerous and costly. Learn the benefits of creating a comprehensive plan plus what it should include.

Jeremy Rollwitz

October 14, 2023

6 Min Read
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Preventive maintenance plays a crucial role in the longevity and functionality of your self-storage facility, and it requires a comprehensive plan. Creating one will yield multiple benefits for the business, for example:

Preserving structural integrity. A maintenance plan allows you to identify and address issues before they escalate into more significant problems. Structural components such as roofs, walls, doors and flooring should be regularly inspected for signs of damage, leaks, cracks or wear. Proactive repairs or replacements can prevent water intrusion, pest infestation and other hazards that could compromise site security and functionality.

Extending equipment lifespan. Self-storage facilities rely on components including HVAC systems, elevators, lighting fixtures and security devices. Regular maintenance not only ensures they work optimally, it extends their life expectancy. Equipment that is properly tended is less likely to break down unexpectedly, reducing costly emergency repairs and inconvenience to staff and tenants.

Ensuring tenant satisfaction. Customers rely on your business to safeguard their goods in storage. When they see you addressing maintenance issues promptly, it demonstrates your commitment to tenant satisfaction; plus, they experience fewer disruptions, which gives them greater confidence in your team. Keep your best foot forward by regularly cleaning your units, building components, pavement and driveways, and common areas. A well-kept environment reflects professionalism and care, making renters feel valued.

There are also other big advantages to establishing a proactive maintenance plan for your self-storage facility, such as improved site safety, fewer insurance claims, better insurance premiums, lower operational costs, less legal liability and more. Each is a compelling reason on its own. Taken all together, the importance of a preventive approach is obvious. Let’s focus on some guidelines for implementation and strategies to include.

Implementing an Effective Program

To begin, you’ll want to develop a comprehensive maintenance checklist addressing all essential tasks and inspection points. It should cover all areas of the self-storage property and all mechanical systems. This includes your technology, such as security equipment, self-serve kiosks, office computers, printers and more. Any tools you use to operate the business need attention. I’ve gotten you started below with a partial list of components and some tips for their care.

Once you have your list, conduct routine site inspections to identify any signs of damage or wear and other potential issues. Schedule them to occur at least quarterly or as recommended by industry standards. After a thorough review, prioritize your tasks to address critical issues first, followed by more routine work. Allocate resources and budget accordingly.

It’s possible you’ll need to enlist the help of a contractor or technician for some jobs. In this case, always hire qualified professionals.

This next part is imperative: Document and track your maintenance activities! Keep a detailed record of all inspections, ongoing tasks, repairs and replacements. This can help you identify trends, anticipate future needs and ensure compliance with any legal or regulatory requirements.

Unit Doors

Unit doors are a major, critical component at every self-storage facility, so it makes sense that they would take priority on your maintenance list. When conducting your property walk-throughs, examine the overall condition of your doors, including the frame and panels. Check for:

  • Security: Every door should have a sturdy lock. Consider adding reinforced latches to prevent tampering and unauthorized access.

  • Damage: Look for signs of wear, dents or rust, which could compromise door strength. Dings can happen, and they’re certainly unsightly; but damage can also hinder function. Minor problems can be fixed, but an inoperable door might need replacement.

  • Cleanliness: Doors attract dirt, dust and other debris, so wash them regularly. Check with your manufacturer on the best method and products to use.

  • Fading or peeling paint: Doors can lose their luster over time. They might even feel tacky to the touch. The sun and inclement weather take their toll. To protect the paint, consider applying a clearcoat. Again, check with your door manufacturer on the best product and method.

Roofs

Regular roof inspections and prompt repairs can help maintain the structural integrity of your self-storage facility and ensure the safety of its unit contents. Evaluate the type of roofing material used and assess its overall condition and longevity. If you notice any issues, address them promptly to prevent further damage and potential liability. Look for:

  • Signs of water leaks or stains, such as discoloration or any evidence of infiltration on the ceiling or walls

  • Sagging or unevenness, which may indicate structural damage

  • Visible cracks, gaps or holes, which can lead to leaks and other issues

  • Signs of deterioration, such as rust, wear or missing shingles

Ensure the roof has proper drainage in the form of gutters and downspouts to channel rainwater away from the building. Inspect the flashing around roof penetrations, such as vents and chimneys, to ensure they’re well-sealed and watertight. Finally, check to see if the roof has proper insulation and weatherproofing to protect stored items from extreme temperatures and weather conditions.

Security Components

Safety is paramount in a self-storage environment. Properly maintaining your security components, including lights, gates, keypads, cameras and alarms, will improve your ability to safeguard the property and the people who spend time there. This not only deters criminals, it improves everyone’s peace of mind.

It’s imperative to regularly examine your security equipment to ensure it’s working properly. Add these tasks to your maintenance routine:

  • Regularly test your fire and security alarms. Look for dirt, dust or tampering. Also, check with your alarm company at least once per year to see if your system needs any updates.

  • Inspect your perimeter fencing for damage or overgrown landscaping that should be removed.

  • Inspect keypads for wear, missing or stuck buttons, or other malfunctions. Regularly clean them to remove dirt and residue.

  • Schedule regular maintenance of your gate operator by a professional.

High-resolution cameras provide clear and detailed footage, making it easier to identify potential security threats, intruders or suspicious activities. This ensures you have reliable evidence in case of any incidents, helping law enforcement and site personnel to identify and apprehend intruders. It’s imperative to keep these devices clean. Also, examine their mounting to ensure they’re covering the desired field of vision.

The Bottom Line

By regularly inspecting and maintaining your self-storage facility's many components, you can identify and address minor issues before they escalate into major repairs or replacements. Proactive upkeep also helps you avoid legal liabilities that could arise from neglecting safety or structural problems. Finally, a well-kept property with satisfied tenants is more likely to attract new customers and retain existing ones, contributing to long-term profitability.

With 16 years of experience in the self-storage industry, Jeremy Rollwitz serves as regional manager for The Jenkins Organization, a real estate company specializing in the self-storage and RV-park industries. He oversees operations in multiple markets, and has experience in construction and development, remodels and renovations, operations, and investor relations. To reach him, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Rollwitz

Regional Manager, The Jenkins Organization

With 16 years of experience in the self-storage industry, Jeremy Rollwitz serves as regional manager for The Jenkins Organization, a real estate company specializing in the self-storage and RV-park industries. He oversees operations in multiple markets, and has experience in construction and development, remodels and renovations, operations, and investor relations. To reach him, email [email protected]

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