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Tackling the Endless To-Do List: Advice on Self-Storage Property Care

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Unless your self-storage property opened yesterday, you likely have a long to-do list when it comes to keeping it clean and functioning properly. While you should always fix what’s broken first, it’s also critical to practice preventive maintenance.

This month my family celebrated 15 years in our home. It’s a milestone for me as I’ve never lived in the same place for this long. Of course, my residence hardly resembles the place we first moved into all those years ago. Gone are the carpets, original kitchen cabinets and butcher-block countertops, and even the giant oleander that once resided in the front yard. I’ve been reshaping this place since the moment I moved in. It’s been worth it, but it also seems never-ending as components break down and need to be repaired, or I simply want to refresh my home.

As a self-storage owner, you’ve likely spent more than a few hours—not to mention dollars—renovating your facility. Whether it’s an expansion, a new roof, improving the curb appeal or repairing potholes in the parking lot, there always seems to be critical property improvements that need your attention. Without them, your facility won’t be able to successfully compete for new customers or possibly even retain your existing ones.

If you’re like me, you probably have a long to-do list, and projects might spill over into months or even years. In truth, I have several that have yet to be completed for one reason or another. The fact is when you have a lot to accomplish, it can be overwhelming and you may be wondering where to start.

Of course, the most logical place to begin is to fix what’s broken first. So, if you have potholes, storage units affected by leaky roofs or rolling doors that have become a hazard, start there. In fact, anything that poses a safety risk to you, your staff or your customers should be at the top of the list.

The items that follow should be ones that affect the customer experience. Over the last couple of years, this has become a focal point for the majority of operators as competition has become fierce in nearly every market. Everyone desires to provide the best self-storage experience, but that entails so much more than just planting some colorful flowers near your office or a friendly smile from the managers. It’s really the whole package. For instance, if you have faded numbers on your keypad, it could affect the customer experience. Doors that are difficult to lift, a sluggish entry gate or a hallway that looks dingy can also bring about negative feelings.

Property care is also more than just “fixing stuff.” It’s also about preventive maintenance. This requires a plan that includes a budget. There are many building components that require consistent monitoring and, sometimes, a tune-up to ward off a full breakdown. Think about your HVAC system, unit doors and even roofs. All these property components will benefit from consistent care. Put it in your budget and on your calendar. I like to use the first or 15th of every month for regular maintenance and inspections. It just helps me keep everything on schedule. You should also check out the monthly task calendars and maintenance guide in the ISS Store. It’ll help you stay on top of these tasks.

Be on the lookout for our November print issue, which just so happens to focus on self-storage property care. It’s filled with articles covering all aspects of maintaining a site, from curb appeal to unit doors to roofs and more. Also, be sure to peruse the many articles, blogs, videos and other resources on our Renovation/Upgrades and Site Maintenance topic pages.

Finally, use the Self-Storage Talk community to get answers on property care or share your hacks. Operators are spending more time cleaning, renovating and repairing these days, so lean on this resource for information. Now’s a great time to connect with other self-storage professionals and become part of the free community.

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