With the amount of time, and money we self-storage operators are spending on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and Google My Business enhancements, we sometimes forget a key piece of the puzzle—the physical property. Sure, you can crop some blemishes from your online facility photos, but customers will eventually see the site in real life. You can’t “catfish” them forever!
A large percentage of your tenants decide whether they want to rent from you based on the curb appeal of your property. You probably think your facility is “fine,” but your view is biased. You see the site every day and are likely missing its slow deterioration. That’s natural. It’s hard to see the flaws in your own asset.
To combat the unintentional blinders we often wear, we must establish a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly checklist of items to evaluate. These should include everything from lighting and signage to drive aisles and landscaping to electrical boxes and equipment and everything between. Every physical element of your facility plays an important role in the first impression made on customers. Keep in mind that you need to review items that can be seen from the street and within the property. It’s called “curb appeal,” but it extends way beyond the curb.
There have been many articles published in this industry about what a site-assessment checklist should include. They can be helpful in developing one specific to your own property, as they contain suggestions and questions to help you focus and assess detailed aspects of your site. Here’s a sample of the kinds of things you’ll see on most generic lists:
- Make sure all lights are bright and every single one is working. Is your signage well-lit at night? Are there bugs in the fixtures? All of these things matter, at least subconsciously, to current customers and prospects.
- Review your landscaping. Do you have dead plants or trees that need trimming or replacing? Is the lawn mowed and weeds pulled?
- Consider your exterior and interior paint. Does the building need a fresh coat?
- What about your parking lot? Do you have potholes in the drive aisles?
- Check the condition of your bollards. Do they need painting or straightening?
- Think about your street and interior signage. Is it faded, falling or ripped?
- What other repairs have you been putting off?
These are all common items that might need your attention, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg. To create comprehensive evaluation list, you’re going to need some help.
Bring in Help
Even if you have a keen eye, some fixes won’t be obvious to someone who views the property every day. You need some outsiders! Grab a friend, family member or anyone who isn’t familiar with your facility. Have him take a ride with you for a candid evaluation. Stop down the street and give him a good view of the property and surrounding area. Ask the person to be honest about:
- His first impression of the facility including the landscaping, building exterior and parking lot
- The facility features that most draw his eye (good or bad)
- What he considers to be the best and worst features of the property
Collect this information from as many impartial individuals as possible. This will allow you to compile a solid list of the negative and positive aspects of your self-storage facility and guide you to what most needs attention. This exercise will prove invaluable and may just increase your revenue!
Once you’ve made some site improvements, highlight them on your website and social media pages, including Google My Business. Mention them to your tenants when they come into the office or you see them around the site. They’ll appreciate your commitment to creating wonderful curb appeal.
Brian Byrd is chief operating officer for Landvest Management, which has managed facilities for self-storage owners since 1985. He has more than two decades of multi-property management experience. In the self-storage community, he’s a national speaker, author, trainer and sales coach. To reach him, call 800.635.3130; e-mail [email protected].