Get external support for the maintenance of your self-storage facility


Last week you noticed that one of your self-storage doors was not working. Then two days ago a storm broke branches from several trees on the property. You also just learned that one of your surveillance cameras is on the Fritz and your entrance gate is creaking. While you can likely resolve some of these issues in-house, is it the best use of your time and resources?

In order for a warehouse to reach its full potential, it requires dedication to sales, customer service, marketing, and a host of other critical tasks. Additionally, if you are expected to fix every maintenance issue, there will be less time to focus on the core business of unit rental. A great way to regain valuable hours is to outsource some or all of your maintenance needs. As a bonus, you guarantee that these tasks are carried out correctly by experienced professionals. You could even prevent future problems!

“Finding a good supplier partner can keep the systems up and running and it becomes less costly if you do regular maintenance as they can often fix a problem before it becomes a much bigger problem,” says Susan Haviland, owner from Haviland Storage Services, an outside consulting and administration company.

Let’s look at the key factors behind outsourcing self storage maintenance and some pointers on how to evaluate and select contractors.

The competence factor

Those of you who have traditionally taken the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to self-storage maintenance may be skeptical about hiring a third party to do the job. In fact, it is common practice in this industry to walk alone.

“In the early days of self-storage, facilities weren’t very demanding, so maintenance was much easier to manage and could usually be done by a property manager,” said Jamey Fawcett, president of Accent Building Restoration Inc., a national paint and paint company Maintenance services for self-storage and other commercial industries. “Over the years the systems have become much more sophisticated, so specific know-how is required to service and maintain things.”

Warehouse properties now contain more complicated components such as automatic gate systems, HVAC units, elevators and security cameras. “You want the most up-to-date information when it comes to the maintenance and servicing of these items,” notes Fawcett.

To maintain certain components in-house, you need to consider your own abilities and those of others on your team. You also need to think about the time required, as well as the cost of tools and other resources that you will need. Then there is the overall quality of the work. For example, if your building facade could use a coat of paint, can you afford to spend several days or weeks on this project? What about the hassle and cost of purchasing consumables? Will it finally look professional?

“Owners need to have a clear understanding of the tasks, time management and skills of their employees. You need to understand how long it would take an employee to complete a larger project and what other tasks might be neglected, and compare this with the time and cost of outsourcing the work, ”said Teresa Sedmak, President of Everbrite Inc. of protective coatings for metals. “Knowledgeable, experienced contractors can complete projects much faster than employees who have no experience with a project scope.”

The cost-risk factor

For most self-storage owners, the main disadvantage of outsourcing facility maintenance is price. While it’s true that a DIY approach is less expensive in terms of labor, it can also cost you other things. “At first glance, it may seem more costly to hire someone to take care of your maintenance. It’s likely cheaper in the long run, ”says Fawcett, noting that servicing some items, such as a gate, could be botched by someone who is not well trained and could result in a more expensive repair.

Injuries are a big risk. “If your supervisor tries to change a roller door spring and gets injured because he didn’t really know what he was doing – and I’ve seen some pretty serious injuries related to roller door springs – it costs you and a headache becomes your problem,” says Fawcett.

The control factor

Another reason many owners shy away from hiring a third party is a lack of control. First, these workers are not your employees, and some vendors have high turnover, which can be a problem. You need to trust that your partner is hiring qualified professionals who respect your property and your customers.

Second, a DIY approach usually means doing the work on your schedule, but if you are outsourcing you need to consider the vendor’s schedule. It is possible that you have an emergency, e.g. B. a stuck entrance gate or a branch blocking an aisle, and the company cannot be reached immediately. This vulnerability causes some self-storage operators to feel uncomfortable. You need to include these possibilities in the equation and be willing to be at least somewhat flexible.

The hybrid factor

Ultimately, you need to weigh all the pros and cons to find the best solution for your self-storage business. Often the best option is a hybrid approach that balances time and cost with the willingness and expertise of employees.

If employees have the time, tools, and expertise, they can handle many maintenance tasks, says Sedmak. But when a job is complex, dangerous, or mistakes are likely to be made, a licensed and insured contractor can ensure that the job is done correctly, safely, and on budget. Even if you have a seasoned manager or a dedicated maintenance team, there are still some tasks that are better left to professionals, such as: If you are unsure or do not have the correct equipment, it is best to get help.

When you work with a third party, prevention becomes a focus. “When you outsource your maintenance, a preventive maintenance calendar is typically created so that your equipment is maintained proactively and not reactively when something is malfunctioning or defective,” says Fawcett. “That can save thousands of dollars over time.”

The contractor factor

If you outsource the maintenance of self-storage, you need to screen your candidates! Even if the person running a business is a friend of a friend, do thorough due diligence. Visit their website, check online reviews and ratings, and do research with the Better Business Bureau. Talk to previous customers to see if they were happy with the vendor’s work.

It’s best to get at least three bids on large self-storage maintenance projects or ongoing contracts for services like landscaping and pest control. Price is always a consideration, but not the most important. Fawcett encourages property owners to use gut instinct when conducting job interviews. “Remember that you will be working with this person or company for a period of time. You want to be sure that you know who is on your property and doing your job. Make sure you speak to references they currently work for as well as some they no longer work with. “

A candidate’s familiarity with self-storage properties is also important. “Contractors with experience in self-storage know how to do the job while protecting customers’ property,” says Sedmak.

The license and insurance factor

In particular, make sure that any company you hire to carry out maintenance work on your self-storage property is licensed and insured. You don’t want to end up in court after someone from ABC Roofing falls cleaning your gutters. If the provider subcontracts any of their work, make sure your company is listed as an additional insured on their policy.

“This protects you when they outsource and hire workers who are not insured. That way if [the worker] If your website gets hurt, the provider has you covered, ”says Haviland, who has experience with the situation. A person who cuts trees for one of their external administration clients has fallen and is now banned for life. The man wasn’t wearing a seat belt. “He keeps trying to claim he’s our employee at the employment office, and it’s always rejected. The seller who hired him had his insurance lapsed, but was insured at the time of the incident. “

Even if you get a good mood about a company, always independently check their references before hiring. “Everyone has to be licensed and bound. I don’t trust the information on their listing sheet or their business card, ”said Gina Six Kudo, a former self-storage manager and business consultant in San Jose, California.

Other important factors

Contract. There is always the potential for disputes about the scope and quality of the work. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that there is no comprehensive contract – and that it is signed and dated by both parties.

Time. Finding out how long it takes to complete each job or project is important. A repair that will take weeks because the seller only has a remaining crew may not be the best choice.

Business impact. Think about whether your tenants are being harassed in any way. Ask the provider what you and your customers should expect during the project – and get everything in writing. Mutual respect. You can be the “boss,” but you also have to be willing to take the seller’s advice. “You hire someone because you think they are experts at what you hire them to do, so be ready to listen to what they have to say,” says Fawcett. “If you really have a good partnership, each should have each other’s best interests in how they work.”

Ongoing evaluation. Whatever maintenance company you hire, don’t be complacent with their services. It’s easy to assume they’ll get the job done, but they may not. As you would with any new vendor, regularly evaluate their performance. If a company is not up to the standard, don’t be afraid to move on to someone new. After all, buy each contract annually or when it expires to see if you can find a better deal.

Less headache in the end

When you and your self-storage team no longer have to worry about mowing the lawn, cleaning security cameras and fixing every broken door spring, you have time to focus on more important tasks. Ask yourself what it would really cost to do the job in-house when you factor in the time, the skills and willingness of the staff, the equipment required, and more. In the end, you may find that outsourcing plant maintenance will benefit your business in more ways than one.

“I see often [self-storage operators] try to be so frugal and not do the right job or [taking] the cheapest offer, which in turn costs them more in the long run, ”says Haviland. “Maintenance items fall into the old adage: You get what you pay for.”

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