You see it on the news all the time … Coronavirus here, “Get your flu shot” there. You may have already been sick this winter. Working in a public-facing environment during flu season is no joke. Self-storage managers need to take precautions to protect themselves, customers and other facility employees from illness.
For example, at my facility, we regularly put out fresh-baked cookies and coffee in the office. During a recent move-in, the tenant brought her grandson into the office to use the restroom. His little eyes lit up when he saw the goodies. The problem was the little guy was obviously ill, with red cheeks and a runny nose. He made a beeline to the cookies and promptly coughed all over them.
Grandma gave the boy a cookie and grabbed another for his baby sister, who was waiting in the car. If the girl wasn’t already sick, she likely would be soon! After they left, I threw away the leftover treats, washed the tray and wiped down the entire area with Clorox. I also gave the bathroom a thorough cleaning.
The lesson is we have to be proactive. You can’t ignore cold and flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should get a flu shot each year because every strain is different, and hundreds of thousands of people are infected annually. Inevitably, you’ll have that one tenant—you know the one I mean—who comes in, wipes his nose, and hands you cash or his credit card. Boom. That’s all it takes.
Wash your hands often and put a bottle of antiseptic gel on the counter for everyone to use. You might even consider buying small bottles of hand sanitizer in bulk and passing them out as a courtesy gift and safety reminder.
If you’re sick, do yourself and your co-workers a favor and stay home until you feel better. The first storage facility I worked at had a staff of four: three in the office and one handling maintenance. One winter, I got the flu, which I unintentionally passed on to my assistant manager, who wound up developing bronchitis. She gave it to the relief manager. The maintenance guy was fortunate. He stayed outside and missed it entirely.
As a preventive measure, I use Clorox wipes to disinfect cart handles as well as all elevator buttons and keypads. Drinking fountains are also a must. Don’t forget to wipe down the door handle to your office and maybe spritz some antibacterial spray on your pens. Disinfect anywhere you know people are placing their germ-ridden fingers. As a precaution, I also wipe down the tenant restroom every day, including the paper towel holder and doorknob. Though taking these steps won’t entirely eliminate the flu (or cold, or plague), your actions will keep you and your tenants healthier in the long run.
Kris Fetter, a mother and military veteran, is property manager at Newcastle Heated Storage in Newcastle, Wash. She’s in her eighth year as a self-storage manager, having worked at three facilities in California, North Carolina and Washington. For more information, visit https://newcastleheatedstorage.com.