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Self-Storage Curb Appeal: Strategies to Ensure Functionality and Safety as Well as Attractiveness

Many people think of curb appeal as being all about aesthetics, but it’s also about maintaining a safe and secure environment, and protecting property value. Here are some strategies for keeping your self-storage facility looking and functioning its best, plus advice on when work should be done in-house or by a professional.

Mohala Johnson

January 23, 2024

7 Min Read
Secure Storage in Waunakee, Wisconsin

Curb appeal is essential to attracting and retaining self-storage customers. When prospective tenants drive or walk by your facility, they should be impressed by its appearance. A well-maintained site conveys that you take pride in your property, which is a reflection on your ability to care for stored belongings.

However, curb appeal is about more than aesthetics. It’s also critical for ensuring a safe and secure environment, which reduces potential liabilities. A well-maintained facility is less likely to be a target for crime or the setting of an accident or injury. Taking good care of your property will also protect customer goods and your business. It not only extends the longevity of physical components, it helps to avoid costly repairs and replacements. Ultimately, all of these factors determine asset value.

While there are many ways to improve a self-storage facility’s form and function, enhancing curb appeal takes strategic planning, patience and practice. It all starts with the cleanliness of the grounds; but in addition to everyday tasks, there are a few specific areas that should draw your attention. I’ll explore some of these below. I’ll also discuss when it may be time to handle various work in house or hire an expert.

The Basics

To begin, ensure your self-storage property is clean. This includes seasonal mowing of grass, trimming of trees and planting of flowers. Ensure driveways and walkways to are free of debris or tripping hazards, keeping in mind that asphalt and concrete settle over time. If you find a potential issue, address it immediately, even if all you do initially is put up a safety cone while you figure out a permanent fix.

Next, make sure all your visible signage is clear and easy to read. This is essential for helping customers find your self-storage site and navigate the property. Update any signs that are faded or outdated. All building identifiers should be easily seen from inside a vehicle. It’s also a smart to mount corner mirrors for any hard-to-see spots. This part of the property site review should also include painted lines near gates, doors, and loading and unloading zones, especially in places customers enter and exit the facility.

Another crucial item to examine is your nighttime lighting. Wall packs, spotlights or even pole-mounted lights are all great ways to light up your property. Not only do these serve as a safety feature, they enhance visibility for your security cameras. Illuminate the parking lot, walkways, exits and entrances. By doing this, you create an inviting atmosphere for legitimate visitors, even after dark. Check your lighting regularly to ensure all bulbs are working.

Here are some additional essentials for improving your self-storage curb appeal:

  • Keep your management office clean and organized. This creates an inviting atmosphere and shows tenants you care for your space, which boosts their confidence in your business.

  • Keep your building exteriors clean and free of graffiti. If your municipality allows it, paint them in bright, eye-catching colors. Touch up the paint as needed.

  • Add landscaping around your buildings. This not only improves facility appearance, it may provide a softer landing if someone falls. As a bonus, flower beds are a great place to add in pest control without it becoming an eye sore.

  • Perform regular maintenance on frequently used equipment like dollies and moving carts. This’ll help prevent accidents as well as costly repairs or replacements.

  • During work hours, all staff are an extension of the property. Employees should be well-groomed and on their best behavior at all times.

Big-Ticket Items

Now that we’ve addressed the essentials, let’s consider some more critical areas of your self-storage property to evaluate. These can significantly impact facility appearance as well as safety. They can also lead to costly repairs if not addressed.

Leaks. Water can damage your buildings as well as tenants’ stored goods. Awnings, gutters, overhangs and roof seams should be inspected regularly, especially after strong weather incidents. If you find a leak, repair it immediately.

Roofs. A damaged roof can lead to leaks, so inspect yours regularly and make necessary repairs promptly. If no one on staff is comfortable or qualified to do this, or if you’re unsure of the severity of a potential issue, call in an expert.

Electrical system. Any issues here can be a fire hazard, so have this system inspected regularly and make any necessary repairs. Check all outlets, AC units and exposed mechanicals often to prevent costly repairs and be aware of any changes that may be occurring.

Customer complaints. If a tenant or guest provides constructive criticism about the physical condition of your self-storage property, take it seriously and address it promptly.

DIY vs. Outside Help

If you identify areas of your self-storage site that require additional maintenance or improvement, you’ll need to determine whether an item should be handled in-house or outsourced to a professional. Here are five factors to consider in your decision-making:

  • Skill level: If someone on your staff has the talent and experience to do a job in-house, DIY repairs can be a great way to go. However, if no one’s comfortable with the task, or the job is too big or complex, then it’s best to hire an expert.

  • Cost: DIY repairs can save you money upfront, but they can cost more in the long run if you make a mistake. If you aren’t sure how to do a job correctly, it’s best to hire a professional.

  • Time: DIY repairs can save money, but they may take longer to complete. If you’re short on time, hiring a qualified provider may be the best option.

  • Safety: Some repairs, such as electrical work, should be done only by a professional. If you aren’t sure if a task is safe to do in-house, it’s best to outsource.

  • Warranty: If you hire an expert to perform repairs, they’ll usually provide a warranty on their work. So, if the result doesn’t meet your expectations or remedy the problem, you can have things fixed or replaced at no additional cost.

In most cases, you can take care of things like cleaning, painting, landscaping and minor repairs on your own, while you may wish to call in an expert for tasks that relate to electrical, plumbing, roofing, concrete or major repairs.  If you decide an expert is required, get quotes from multiple contractors, so you can compare prices and scopes of work to find the best deal. Always ask for references from previous clients to give you an idea of a provider’s work quality and customer service. Make sure the vendor is licensed and insured, which will protect you in case of any accidents or damage. Also, get everything in writing including scope of work, price and timeline.

Staying on Course

Maintaining your self-storage curb appeal should be an ongoing process, not an annual or seasonal project. To help stay on course and keep your site operating as it should, adopt the following strategies:

  • Create a maintenance schedule. This will help you to stay on top of routine tasks, such as mowing the lawn, trimming trees and cleaning gutters.

  • Leave major repairs to qualified professionals. If you don't have the time or expertise to handle task in-house, hire an expert to ensure the work is done correctly and safely.

  • Keep records of maintenance work. Keep track your property’s condition and identify any potential problems.

Curb appeal is about much more than looks. It’s about maintaining a safe, clean, well-functioning environment for your self-storage tenants. Remain vigilant, and focus on making improvements to ensure your facility is continually placing its best foot forward.

Mohala Johnson is the director of Web technology for Tellus Development Ltd., a real estate and development firm that operates more than 30 self-storage facilities in the Southeast. With more than 10 years of management and customer-service experience, she handles the company’s digital and print marketing. Writing has always been a passion of hers, and she’s excited to share her knowledge with the self-storage industry. Connect with her @MohalaJohnson on Twitter or www.linkedin.com/in/mohalajohnson.

About the Author(s)

Mohala Johnson

Director of Web Technology, Tellus Development LTD

Mohala Johnson is the director of Web technology for Tellus Development LTD, a real estate and development firm that operates more than 30 facilities in the Southeast United States. With more than 10 years management and customer-service experience, she handles the company’s digital and print marketing. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she is excited to share her knowledge with the self-storage industry. Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mohalajohnson. For more information, visit www.tellusltd.com.

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