As a self-storage operator, you have a duty to keep your facility running smoothly and to ensure it’s safe and secure. You also need to control costs without compromising the quality of your product and services. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can help you streamline the tasks and processes involved in site upkeep, and save money.
A CMMS is software that collects and organizes information about a company’s maintenance activities. Sometimes referred to as enterprise management software, it ensures tasks are prioritized correctly and all inventory and labor are in place to ensure success.
A CMMS provides immediate insight to a facility’s maintenance needs, generating things like work-order schedules, inventory forecasts and reports. It gives staff the freedom to focus more on the work to be done and less on logistics and paperwork. In short, it empowers you with data so you can make smart maintenance decisions. Let’s explore the many benefits such a system brings to the table.
Minimizing COVID-19 Exposure
One of a self-storage operator’s primary concerns right now is keeping his team and facility safe from the coronavirus. A CMMS is invaluable in helping you remain productive yet protected under hazardous conditions. It may even allow you to operate with fewer employees. A CMMS will allow you to do the following remotely:
- Monitor the premises in real time and track how well maintenance tasks are being handled via the software’s dashboards, reports and notifications
- Create, prioritize and manage work orders from your mobile devices and send safety-related information and reminders to staff in the form of text, images or how-to-videos
- Create and manage checklists to ensure tasks have been completed, especially those that are critical for maintaining hygiene
- Ensure that equipment such as mist-disinfection machines, automatic hand-sanitizer dispensers, disinfecting robots, etc., are being regularly inspected and kept in optimum condition
- Monitor the performance of other systems such as HVAC and air-filtration to promote better indoor air quality
- Record any incidents that might lead to the spread the virus
A carelessly managed self-storage facility can easily become a hot spot for infectious disease. It’s vital that you notice and handle any lapses in an efficient, cost-effective manner. A CMMS makes this easier to achieve.
Naturally, you have a budget that serves as a roadmap for your monthly and annual self-storage expenses. Site maintenance is an area that can generate significant costs, and you need to track them carefully. Though having dependable equipment is key to running an efficient business, you never want to go overboard with spending, as doing so will negatively impact your return on investment.
One of the best ways to manage costs over the long term is to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to maintenance. A CMMS will help you be predictive and preventive, which will allow you to avoid last-minute, costly repairs. An integrated system will also:
- Monitor your building and equipment maintenance
- Quickly show you where expenses are above normal and help you drill down to location and specific work orders
- Provide customizable and easy-to-use modules and dashboards that help you plan and schedule
- Identify areas for improvement in efficiency and cost savings
- Help you reduce equipment downtime while extending asset lifespan
Managing Physical Assets
Prospective customers get an idea of your facility standards from their first impression. They want a clean, modern, functional place to store their items. However, just like in a hotel, restaurant or any other establishment where different people come in daily, your self-storage site can be prone to deterioration, especially when tenants misuse the property. Some operators find that keeping their facility in premium condition becomes a daily struggle.
All this sounds like quite a handful, but with the right tools, it’s achievable. Regardless of size or location, all self-storage businesses can benefit from using technology to streamline their maintenance processes. A CMMS simplifies several aspects of operational management and planning.
Automating Safety and Security
Some self-storage operators are finding that traditional methods of deterring theft are insufficient. Trying to monitor security manually can be futile, especially at large facilities. A more realistic approach is to integrate your CMMS with smart security devices and make the resulting data accessible 24/7. For example, a mobile-enabled CMMS can interact with your security system and generate an alert when there’s an anomaly.
The same benefits can apply to safety. A CMMS can improve your performance significantly by helping you create an injury-free environment. By automating several aspects of safety management, you’ll realize a significant reduction in the conditions that breed hazards. For instance, with the reporting module, it’s easy to track equipment history and detect any recurring issues with high risk. Based on that information, your organization can proceed to lay out strategies for improvement and prevention.
Managing Vendors and Suppliers
Another area where CMMS can help is vendor management. You can save a chunk of overhead by using the system to review real-time or historic information about local vendors, service providers and other outsourced contractors.
Let’s say you have a local vendor that comes in to apply a fresh coat of paint to your building exterior at set intervals. A CMMS allows you to quickly and easily contact the company and assign a work order that details the resources it’ll need. That order can include special instructions and safety guidelines.
After executing the work order, the reporting module tallies hours worked and total costs. This is important information that gives you an overview of the vendor’s performance—or lack thereof. It puts you in a better position to make the right decisions about who to hire for various jobs. The system should also facilitate the vendor’s invoice and payment process.
Delivering Better Service
The importance of customer satisfaction can’t be overemphasized in today’s competitive self-storage market. Service delivery must be impeccable. In addition to helping you manage maintenance functions, a CMMS allows you to streamline communication between you and your team, and between your team and tenants. This fosters transparency and improves your perceived response rate, which is highly appreciated by customers in every industry.
It also helps to clear any ambiguities and reduces the risk of your staff making costly or dangerous mistakes while working on a maintenance-related job. Tasks are assigned faster, instructions are clear and feedback is encouraged. Overall, you have a system that saves time and frees you up to focus on more crucial issues.
Self-storage is a rewarding but competitive business. Remaining viable in this industry requires you to employ technology that yields insight to your daily operation without taking up too much time. By leveraging the power and benefits of a CMMS, you’ll be at able to make better decisions, streamline your processes, eliminate inefficiency and risk, and save money.
Mehdi Khalvati, president of Axxerion Inc., has more than 20 years of experience in developing software systems and solutions. He’s created product in the facilities-management, design and construction marketplaces. He holds degrees in civil engineering, structural engineering and computer sciences, and earned a doctorate from the University of California - Berkeley.