When people have an overabundance of household goods, have closed summertime contracting efforts or simply want a place to put their old goods to make way for new, self-storage facilities come in handy yet must be picked in somewhat of a cautious fashion. While renting a 10 by 20 seems as simple as handing your money over to the manager and getting your electronic gate key, there needs to be more due diligence performed on the facility than meets the conventional eye.
We’ll thoroughly investigate the true standards, signals and adverse verbiage to avoid when seeking out your new cash cow, and compare it with why pre-existing storage facilities should be the choice facility for self-storage entrepreneurs.
Building Standards, Bed Bugs
Much like any home, the building standards (i.e. the structural integrity, etc.) should be equivocally high. Buildings in most self-storage locations, regardless of potential for hurricanes, storms, and tornadoes, are built with corrugated metal or simply sheet metal construction which is fast to build and potentially cheaper than recommended standards. The doors are flimsy, seams are left unsealed which allows excess moisture and mold to penetrate your property, and the overall lot looks unkempt. Regardless of the cosmetics, the manager of these adverse self-storage facilities somehow is able to keep the units rented, even if just for a short lease.
Even if current owners seem clean, they could've attracted bed bugs from their previous homes. These little critters could've jumped onto their blankets, mattresses and will now be a boon for other tenants. If you find a storage facility that has infestations of bed bugs, don't run; you will need to familiarize yourself with the bed bug heat treatment process because indoor climate controlled facilities can easily pass bed bugs back and forth.
Everyone knows that honest advertising will render honest customers; telling the truth in advertising campaigns and showing compassion for those seeking self-storage solutions will more often than not render steady flows of customers. However, advertising has also been known as the playground for shysters out to get money without much humility for the expensive property you intend to place within their care. Let’s look at some common tell-tale signs to assist you to ‘duck and run’ from shady deals.
In order to promulgate sales, people will try anything to convince the general public that their storage units are prim and proper. Some of the better ones include ‘Visit Us – We’re Under New Management’ or even ‘Lowest Prices In Town’, hoping that customers will be adaptive to change or at least happy for the managerial change. Not only is there severe falsehoods in the advertisement, it’s simply not advised to print or post something that cannot be upheld. There are three main reasons why changes in managerial or price drops are not ethical for self-storage businesses:
- Switching management never falls on the actual management in place – it falls back on the owner. Having unclear directives for management to follow leads to miscommunication, mishandling and simply erratic decision making in simple facets like maintenance.
- Lower prices inexorably mean lower standards. And when you want something big for $10.00 a month, expect $10.00 worth of shielding from storms, $10.00 worth of piss-poor management and $1000’s of dollars in potential damages. Anything worthwhile in life comes at costs that may be slightly higher yet are firmly in place with merit.
- Advertising ‘New Management’ means one of two things: untraceable experience in self-storage or inexperienced ownership living with the façade that ‘mixing things up’ will generate new tenants to their storage facility. Both are what can be dubbed as ‘rookie mistakes’.
Instead of treating managerial personnel like indentured servants, you’ll notice immediately the pride pre-existing, well-run storage facilities possess through the eyes, words and actions of on-site managers that are experienced and well cared for by an existing owner with experience in ‘directing traffic’, per se.
So you’ve decided to rummage through your storage unit at 1:00AM to find pictures of your nephew playing tee ball. However, your gate key isn’t working, and management lives 25 miles away. What do you do? How would you react if you knew people could easily jump through conventional security and cut your padlock, stealing your keepsakes or high-end construction equipment? Many security concerns surround self-storage facilities in general yet could be avoided with proper measures in place.
Under normal circumstances, you’ll receive the standard magnetic gate key which opens the gate and allows you to drive to your storage unit. Lighting is dim, location of facility is usually remote and anyone could run behind you, club you over the head, and take anything they wish – even in broad daylight. All told, normal security standards in these units are rather subpar.
The owner of any self-storage facility is the quarterback, an ultimate source of direction for consumers looking for high standards of property storage with access to local phone numbers to speak with proprietors if the need arises. Unfortunately, storage facilities in Illinois, for example, could be owned by companies in Nebraska or vice versa which is terrible for locals wanting to reach somebody quickly. And, of course, changing ownership frequently shows poor leadership skills, quite honestly.
In our new era of corporate America, conglomerates or other major management companies are eating properties like Big Macs, buying up as many smaller self-storage facilities as possible to put in their portfolios. Sure, this may seem intelligent in terms of mass income sources, yet bodes terribly for customer service. When you know your area code is 678 (Atlanta) and you see local storage facilities with 312 area codes (Chicago), run for your life as you’ll never receive the dedication to security and storage conditions you seek.
So, What Am I Looking For In Self Storage Facilities Again?
Now that we’ve compared the normal, unethical and otherwise unprofessional means of operating a self-storage facility, we’ll wrap this all into a nice package for you so when the time comes to entrust your belongings to self-storage, you won’t revisit a rerun of Storage Wars in the process of finding your perfect facility to own.
- Seek out prices that are symbolic of high standards of management, maintenance, security and overall housing protection for your belongings. Cheap usually means sleazy; competitive yet merited price tags for monthly storage rentals should be more up your alley.
- Finding locally owned facilities with on-site management at your disposal should be first on your repertoire when self-storage needs are imminent. Sometimes you need to quickly ‘store and go’ in life and, with locally owned and operated self-storage units, you can enjoy that feeling somebody really cares about their community.
- ‘New Management’ means misguided ownership. It also acts as an advertising gimmick to make people think changes have been made. Therefore, if you are driving down Highway 20 and see facilities that are under new management or recently swapped ownership, it would behoove you to avoid dropping your money there considering the storage facility has already proven they can’t keep their management under control, let alone keeping their facilities up to high standards.
- Visit the facility before making rental decisions; there is literally no skimping out here. Check the veracity of each unit, looking for seam gaps, holes in roofing, adequacy of lighting, door strength and overall structural integrity. Facilities that are solely sheet metal will blow away in the roughest of storms; you’ll definitely want to find solid concrete for elevated self-storage protection in addition to decent lighting for nighttime access if you run paper routes, for example. Check for bed bugs and other unwanted critters, too.
- Security means more than alarms – it’s a live body watching over the facility to deter intrusions. Should you wish to find self-storage and know you’ll need 24 hour access, having management that lives on-site will prevent being hoodwinked by some robber wanting to take your goods.
Find storage businesses that have been steadfast in the self-storage facility business for decades. Not months; decades. Professionalism in self-storage operation is your goal, customer care and protection for your most treasured items is your well-orchestrated game plan. Now that you see what storage facilities can do to make you cringe in disgust, let a great family-owned company be the storage facility you own forever.