If you’re like me, you spend as much time (if not more) in your self-storage management office as you do in your own home. Keeping it clean, efficient and welcoming isn’t difficult, but with everything going on today, including the coronavirus pandemic, it has gotten a bit more complicated.
There are a lot of things that can detract from the appeal of your facility lobby including dust, dirt, clutter, bad odors and more. Making the area inviting for staff and customers is enough incentive to keep it fresh and tidy. There’s also the longevity of your furniture and equipment to consider. If you care for them, you can extend their usefulness and avoid unnecessary replacement costs. With these things in mind, here are some smart ways to keep your office in tip-top shape and ready for business.
One common problem in self-storage management offices is clutter. Though the space may not look dirty, I’ve seen too many “I’ll get to it in a minute” or “I may need this later” piles at facilities that can turn into nooks and crannies for dust, dirt, pollen, mold and even critters. Try to file paperwork as it’s completed and make it an end-of-the-day task to sort or toss unneeded items before you leave the property. Filing and storing is a huge help in reducing the time it takes to keep your office organized and presentable.
Wash Windows and Doors
Your windows and doors are among the first things customers see from the parking lot, so cleanliness here is key; but depending on your location, that can be a challenge. Rain, dust and pollen can cloud up windows in no time flat. Believe it or not, water-beading treatments for car windshields help in this department. For routine cleaning, I like foaming-spray cleaners. I can see where I missed, and the cleaning solution doesn’t dry on the glass before I can wipe it off on a sunny day.
In a pinch, good old-fashioned dish soap and water work great, and a little white vinegar in the mix helps to avoid streaking. A squeegee with a sponge end is also a big help. Just remember to wipe off the blade after every pass. It takes a bit of practice, but the results are worth it. Household kitchen paper towels can create dust and lint, so I recommend brown, rolled paper towels or newspapers for wiping up streaks and dribbles.
Don’t forget the window treatments or blinds! Shake out the cloth treatments to rid them of dust, and either hit them with some fabric freshener or launder them. Dust off blinds with either a static duster or canned air like you use on your computer keyboards.
Finally, the door deserves attention. Oil soaps, like Murphy’s, work great on exterior surfaces like wood or painted metals to remove dust and dirt without damaging the finish.
Mind the Floor
Floors are my sore spot. It never fails that every muddy or sandy boot in our ZIP code walks in right after we mop or vacuum. Mild cleansers and regular mopping will extend the life of laminate or tile floors. If you must use bleach, create a mild solution (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) and use it sparingly to avoid damaging the finish. Damp, single-use mops are great for small spills and touch ups, but a good wet/dry mop routine never fails to get the job done. Wood or faux-wood floors benefit from oil-based soaps or cleaners designed for wood, not solutions with bleach or harsh chemicals.
Carpeting, of course, is a simpler matter for some; just running the vacuum can keep it looking fresh. Foaming carpet cleaners can help with stains and spills as well as conditioning. They’ll also make the carpet last longer. Professional carpet cleaning is certainly recommended if time allows. If it doesn’t, those rental carpet cleaners are always fun to use!
Don’t Forget the Furniture
If your office contains furniture like couches, chairs and tables, don’t leave them out of your cleaning routine. Soft, upholstered furniture can get worn quickly, so regular cleaning with a foam-style cleanser and a run-over with the vacuum really helps. For added protection, a spritz of waterproofing spray doesn’t hurt.
For nonporous materials like vinyl, Naugahyde or leather, break out the Murphy’s Oil Soap again. Protective sprays for vinyl and plastic that are used on car interiors work well for quick touch-ups. During the busy season, try to regularly flip cushions to keep them from going flat.
Wash Work Surfaces
Work surfaces on tables, counters and desks deserve a little extra attention due to frequent use from staff as well as customers. With health risk heightened due to the coronavirus, continual cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting can damage material finishes. Cleaning and protecting them before you disinfect will make a difference. Simply wiping them down with a disposable wipe will just give you sanitized dirt and eat away at the finish.
Furniture polish or lemon oil, used once per week or more, will keep wood looking clean and bright. On Formica or other laminates, use a mild cleaner to protect the finish. This is another area in which you can use automotive cleaners made for synthetic materials. Some even have UV-protective qualities, if your office gets a lot of sunlight.
If you have any stainless-steel or corrugated-metal surfaces, dust them regularly or use mild detergent and water, and then dry them quickly. Try not to use bleach on non-stainless metal if you can avoid it, as it’s an oxidizer. It’ll eat the finish right off and allow rust to start almost immediately.
Make Time for Your Electronics
Your office tablets, kiosks, computers, monitors and peripheral equipment get a lot of use. Since static electricity can damage or completely wipe out a computer, use anti-static cleaners on these items. Electronics departments or computer stores are your best bet for viable options.
For touch screens, computer mice or touch/draw pads, either squirt a few sprays of isopropyl alcohol (less than 70 percent) or place a dab of hand sanitizer onto a clean paper towel or disposable, single-use wipe. Just be sure to spray the cloth, not the screen. Bleach may damage screens and could affect their performance, so avoid using it in these instances. Also, power down any device before cleaning it, and then wait five to 10 minutes before turning it back on. This will allow any spills to dry and help avoid damage or power shortages.
When it comes to office maintenance, it may seem like there’s a lot to do, but the benefits are twofold. When customers see a well-kept, organized lobby area, it demonstrates the dedication of the site staff, and you get a clean, safe environment to call home (well, a second home).
Kevin J. Edwards has worked in the storage industry since 2014. He’s a general manager with Prime Group Holdings, a real estate owner-operator focused on acquiring and growing a portfolio of self-storage facilities throughout the United States. He’s a licensed property manager and notary public in South Carolina. His experience includes site management, facility auditing, staff training and overseeing maintenance procedures at several properties across the Southeast. For more information, call 843.422.3461; email email@example.com.