By Jon Fesmire
What do you think when you see a structure that’s dirty, painted a hideous color or surrounded by dying plants? You probably think it’s ugly, cheap and not worth your time. Maintaining an attractive self-storage facility can mean the difference between drawing customers or sending them to your competitors. You want people to notice your facility, but you don’t want it to be gaudy. Overall, it should be welcoming.
Curb appeals refers to the look of a property from the street and all outlying areas. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to improve curb appeal at your facility.
Contrasting Paint Colors
There are many ways to paint your facility, but your goal should be to find colors that complement the property itself as well as the surrounding neighborhood. This can mean similar colors or those on the opposite side of the color wheel. For instance, if your street is lined with trees, you may want to go for a palette of browns and greens, or browns and reds. The walls should be a different color than the trim, roof and window frames.
You might also consider adding geometric patterns. For example, paint a triangular section of a wall one color, and the other section a contrasting hue for an eye-catching look. Faux-stone siding for the lower part of an office-building wall can add a homey feel.
Self-storage facilities are generally designed to maximize rentable square footage, but there’s nearly always room for landscaping, particularly around the office or manager’s residence (if there is one). This can greatly increase the welcoming feel of a facility. You can add small trees, shrubbery and colorful flowers. If you don’t have one already and there’s room, add a pathway from the parking area to the front door. This makes a nice transition for visitors.
A short brick wall, from one to three feet high, around a garden area packed with colorful flowers or shrubs looks inviting. The bricks can be painted to match the property, or you can use natural stone to give the display a rustic feel. You can also add potted plants. Just keep weeds out of your landscaping and other foliage. It’s common to see used cigarette butts in pots and even in landscaped areas, so remove those and any other garbage when you see them.
If you own the land between the facility perimeter wall and sidewalk, adding trees and shrubbery there can make your facility immediately more attractive to passersby. If the city owns the area, make a request for added greenery. City officials want to beautify the community, so they might be open to your landscaping ideas.
Well-Maintained Lots and Drives
It can be costly to replace the asphalt in your parking lot and driveways, but doing so could really enhance your property. If you have numerous potholes, cracks and other problem areas, the expense of repair can be well worth it. There are also alternatives to laying new asphalt, such as patch repairs or an overlay. Consult an expert to find the best and most cost-effective method for keeping your parking and drive areas smooth and trouble-free.
If your lots are in good shape, consider adding a sealcoat at intervals of three to five years. Not only will this keep your roadways looking fresh, it can extend the life of your pavement. Uproot any weeds growing through any cracks as soon as you spot them.
Your parking spots should be clearly marked. This is especially true for operators who offer outdoor vehicle parking. Each space should be clearly identifiable by unit number, and the space dimensions clearly defined.
If you have bollards on your property, keep them fresh by regularly painting them or adding sleeves, which are available in a variety of colors and prices. Damaged bollards should be replaced.
Nothing says a company isn’t paying attention to its facility like non-working lights. A nightly sweep of the premises will reveal any burned out bulbs. Replace them immediately. Lighting fixtures can also crack and break, which looks bad. To maintain a professional look, keep those fixtures in good repair and the lights shining bright.
If your fixtures look dated or need to be replaced, consider switching to more a more cost-effective and energy-efficient illumination, such as compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. These new lighting solutions can reduce lighting-energy use by as much as 90 percent while eliminating maintenance expense for up to 12 years.
A Clean Environment
Finally, keep your facility clean! That means wiping stains off the walls, sweeping up messes, cleaning unit doors and re-touching paint where needed. To stay on track, create a maintenance schedule that outlines the duties to be tackled on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. They might include:
- Keep the office counters clean and clear of clutter.
- Walk the property daily to pick up trash and other debris.
- Look for signs of pests.
- Keep the bathroom stocked and spotless.
- Clean the gutters regularly to avoid piles of debris.
- Pressure-wash the curbs to remove tire stains, dirt and other marks.
- Regularly clean your windows and floors.
Most operators will take on the above tasks themselves. However, some of these chores may require you to hire a professional. Large paint projects, laying asphalt or seal-coating, and some landscaping duties are well-suited to the craftsmen who’ve studied them. Determine which jobs can be accomplished in-house, then find quality contractors to do the rest.
There are also many videos available that highlight how to add curb appeal to a home, and what works for a house can easily translate to a self-storage facility. If you need pointers or ideas, social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram can provide innovative ways to add appeal to any structure. Follow the above suggestions and your facility can look classy and more attractive for your current and prospective self-storage tenants.
Jon Fesmire is a copywriter at Storagefront.com, an online marketplace for self-storage consumers. He writes articles for the company’s blog, “The Renter’s Bent.” Launched in 2009, StorageFront is operated by StoreLocal, a co-op of private self-storage operators in Canada and the United States. The group leverages the combined strength of its membership for services such as financing, marketing and technology. For more information, visit www.storelocal.com.