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High Maintenance: Seeking Professional Support for Self-Storage Upkeep and Repairs

Keeping a self-storage facility running smooth and looking spectacular is a full-time job. Operators who are pressed for time or lack specialty skills should consider hiring a third-party company for everyday maintenance and larger repair work.

Whether your self-storage business operates one facility or dozens, management requires dedication, planning and organization. Among the many responsibilities, you need to keep the grounds clean and perform routine maintenance. This might include fixing broken unit doors, planting seasonal flowers and cleaning office windows. Doing all this on top of daily operation can be challenging.

In addition to time constraints, you and your team might lack the expertise to handle all tasks. Maintenance includes more than janitorial work. Consider the wide range of potential repairs, from electrical issues to graffiti to cracked pavement. It might make sense to outsource to a third party. Here are some of the benefits and what to look for when you hire maintenance support.

Less Headache, More Skills

If you’re the self-storage owner, you’re responsible for providing wages and benefits to your in-house employees. You not only fund paychecks, you ensure the right taxes are withheld and sent to the government. You may offer a retirement plan and medical benefits. You’re required to provide a certain amount of paid vacation and sick time each year.

When you outsource maintenance, you simply pay the contracting company. It sends workers to your facility, but they’re not your employees. It not only costs less than hiring full- or part-time staff, it makes your job easier, as you don’t have to deal with human resources issues. You’re simply a client. All personnel functions, including discipline, are handled by the provider.

Of course, you can instruct the company on what you need done and make requests regarding method. Just keep in mind it may have a certain way it prefers or needs to do things for worker safety. Before you sign a contract, ask if the provider has any rules or restrictions for its employees of which you should be aware.

When you outsource maintenance work, you get employees who know what they’re doing. You don’t have to do any training. The provider ensures its team has the skills necessary to complete the job. On occasion, you may have to wait a while if you need a highly specialized service; however, it’ll still be much faster than if you had to train a member of your own staff to do the work. In general, you’ll experience much less downtime when you outsource.

A Balanced Approach

Do you have to either hire dedicated in-house maintenance staff or outsource to a provider? Of course not. You can use a combination of both for a balanced approach that yields the best results.

Perhaps you’ll train your team to handle simple, routine tasks and hire out for more difficult or specialized needs. Unexpected issues such as broken gates or leaking roofs often require professional attention. Some tasks are simply better handled by specialists such as pest control and security-system maintenance. These often require expertise your in-house workers don’t have and shouldn’t need.

Choosing a Provider

When you need a maintenance company, you’ll want to take several steps to find a good one. First, search “maintenance company near me” on Google. Visit each company’s website. Read their reviews on Yelp or Google. You may even find additional companies this way. If you want to go deeper, visit the Better Business Bureau website, which allows you to compare company ratings. You can also ask other self-storage operators in the area what contractors they like.

Narrow the list of possibilities to the few that seem the best. Give them a call. Ask what they can tell you about their business, what specialties they have and so on. Request references. Once you’ve found one you like, carefully read the service contract before you sign, then get a copy.

Ultimately, you’ll need to figure out what works best for your self-storage business, balancing cost and results. It may take time and experience to refine the balance. Done right, you’ll have reliable, loyal employees to handle most of the maintenance load, with helpful contractors coming in to take care of jobs that require more specific skills.

Jonathan Fesmire is a copywriter at Storagefront and writes articles for the company’s blog, “The Renter’s Bent.” In 2011, he earned a Master of Fine Arts from Academy of Art University. For more information, visit www.storagefront.com.

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