After a hard, dreary winter, you may find your self-storage facility is in need of a spring spruce-up. Nows a good time to look around and see what you can do to make the property clean and cheery before rental season starts. Make yourself a to-do list, collect your supplies, make a schedule to tackle each task, and geter done! Here are some steps to a brighter, cleaner facility.
Your front office is where customers get one of their first impressions of your business. Dirty floors, a cramped retail area, and dust in the corners will not create a positive reaction.
Start at the front door and clean the handle, glass and kick plates. Consider having the glass professionally cleaned at least once per year. Don't forget the sills and anywhere else dust, dirt and cobwebs build up.
Nows the time to de-clutter that junk drawer and file or toss old Yellow Pages ads, forms, junk mail and other stuff that has accumulated. Check your file drawers for ways to consolidate, store or neaten paperwork, allowing for more usable space.
How raggedy are your tenant files? Maybe its time to invest in a new box of manila file folders. Or maybe theres a new box already hiding somewhere in one of those drawers or cabinets. Be sure to use what you have before you buy more.
Is there a nest of electrical wires under the desk that has become a dust-bunny breeding ground? See what you can do to organize them. It may be as simple as marking them with masking tape for identification and tying them together with a twist tie. Wipe dust from the wires and plugs. Check your outlets, surge strips and battery backups. Understand how many items are drawing from the same power source.
Computer. Check the fan to make sure its clear of dust. A clogged fan will overheat the computer and shorten its life span. Canned air is a very useful tool. Use it to remove dust and crumbs from the keyboard and mouse and other hard-to-reach areas. (Incidentally, its great for cleaning silk flowers, too!) Disinfect the keyboard, mouse, telephone handset and dial pad, door knobs, and drawer handles. If you have the authority, check your antivirus software to ensure its up to date and working properly. Defrag the computer if it needs it, and remove any programs, games or toolbars that may be chewing up valuable resources.
Employee-only areas. Dont forget the breakroom. Pick a day to clean and organize it. Wipe out the fridge and microwave, and scrub the coffee pot. Dispose or sell items that are no longer of use. Repair or reuse any items you can. Are there any banners, flags or marketing materials hanging around? Sometimes going through the breakroom can feel like Christmas. Oh, theres that box of file folders!
Retail area. If the packaging is faded and old, it isnt going to sell. Consider taking items out of their original packaging to create a bundle. Clean and rearrange the display. The easiest way to do this is to take all the items down or move them out of the way. Clean the slat wall and floor, then inspect each item and wipe it down as you replace it in a new position.
Create new displays such as hanging bubble wrap from fishing line or string or group items in a way that shows how they can be used together like a maker and moving labels. Create eye-catching box displays with prices clearly marked.
The company unit. If you have to carefully step around in your company unit or it looks like a scene from the TV reality show "Hoarders," you should spend some time cleaning it! Throw out broken items, give away stuff youll never use, and organize your tools.
Winter can be harsh on facilities in all climates. From snow and sleet to hot baking sun, every facility bears the brunt of its environment. Here are some strategies to protect and restore your buildings, landscaping and doors.
Curb appeal. We use the term curb appeal a lot in self-storage, but sometimes we forget about the actual curb. Pressure-wash the concrete to remove tire marks, dirt, mold and rusty water marks left by the irrigation system. Repaint the curb, speed bumps and bollards as needed. Check the irrigation system to ensure pop-up heads and timers still work.
Clean out the piles of cigarette butts, leaves and debris that accumulate in corners, stairwells and hallways. Be diligent about weeds and trash that sneak onto the property when youre not looking. They will not go away on their own. Take a broom with you on your lock checks and sweep the cobwebs and insects from the storage doors, hasps, corners, lights and downspouts.
Doors. Not everyone who comes to your property each day will stop by the office. For those folks, their impression of your business comes largely from their unit door. Theyre up close and personal with it. They see when its dusty, soda has been spilled on it, cobwebs are on the light switch, theres a frayed and dirty rope on the handle, and there are dead bugs in the corner. That door is your inventory. Keep it as clean and well-maintained as you can.
Golf cart. Check the batteries, wires and tires. Take everything off the cart and give it a good scrub. Never store locks or company property on the golf cart.
Add color. After a long winter, spring flowers are always a welcome sight. Replant your flower beds and mulch the grounds. Add some colorful flags and banners to attract attention.
Put a little elbow grease into preparing your property to shine come rental season and you can change dreary to cheery. Then give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done and enjoy rental season!
Linnea Appleby is the owner of Lime Tree Management, self-storage management and consulting firm. She is a frequent ISS contributor and a speaker at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo. To reach her, call 941.350.7859; e-mail