As part of the self storage management team, your job begins before a potential self storage facility breaks ground. You must review the architectural plans, engineering plans, and any other diagram that will influence the design and use of a new self storage facility. You must anticipate the needs of your customers while providing a safe, secure, and pleasant storage experience. A potential storage customer is often well aware of his or her options in a given market. The internet has allowed potential customers to review local facilities within a given market while instilling a predetermined set of expectations before that customer ever takes a step into a self storage facility. A manager should review three specific areas before construction begins; the layout of the facility, security, and office design.
The layout of a new self storage project will help determine the ease of use of the facility and the time it takes the facility to reach stabilization. Some questions to think about when reviewing a facility’s layout are: How many access points will the facility have? Are the driveways large enough to accommodate moving trucks? Are the hallways in the climate control buildings large enough? Are the larger climate controlled units closer to the climate control building access points so customers do not have to cover more distance then needed? In addition to reviewing standard layout plans, take the time to review your new facility’s unit mix. Make sure your facility’s unit mix is reflective of the demand in the area. The closer the facility’s unit mix is to the market area’s demand, the faster your facility will reach stabilization. Lastly, if the facility is going to have onsite managers plan the size and layout of the apartment appropriately. Consider making the apartment two bedrooms, for managers that have children. Consider placing the apartment upstairs above the facility or completely detached from the office. This will help keep your mangers honest and out of the apartment when they should be answering phones in the office.
Another important area that must be reviewed on a self storage project will be the security of the facility. Potential customers are aware of the need for security and will compare multiple self storage facility’s in a market to determine which facility they feel is the most secure. Consider the following questions when reviewing your new facility’s security. Does the facility have fortress style construction or a one way in / one way out design? What type of camera system will the facility use? Where are the most strategic places to install cameras? Will the facility doors have individual alarms? What type of gate system will be installed? Does the gate system work well with your choice of management software? What type of lock system or hasp will your facility doors employ? Will you install an intercom system? Will the managers live onsite or offsite? These are just a few of the questions you will have to answer before construction moves ahead.
Finally, review the office design for your new facility. This is one of the most important and often overlooked areas of self storage construction. Consider the following questions when reviewing the office design of your new facility. Where will you place the counter space? Is your counter space close to electrical outlets for computers, phones, and any other item that requires electrical power? Have you provided enough space for items such as file cabinets and office storage? Do you have adequate space for customers to complete rental agreements? Have you set aside space to sell point of sale items such as boxes and locks? Do you need space for additional activities such as PO boxes, pack and ship activities, a business center, or a coffee bar? If your facility’s office is located off a climate controlled building install a door so that your manager can take potential customers directly into the climate controlled building. Remember every customer that initially visits your facility will spend time in the facility’s office area.
Management teams should be very active during the planning, development, and construction phases of a new self storage facility. Once the last door is installed and the certificate of occupancy is finalized it now becomes the management team’s job to bring the facility to stabilization. Items that could have been changed during the development and construction phase are now permanently in place. Remember as part of the management team it is your job to handle operations once the facility keys are given to you. Focusing on a few small areas such as the layout of the facility, security, and office design will go a long way in making the management team’s job much easier.
Cutting Edge Self Storage Management & Consulting is a full service management company specializing in Management, Feasibility Studies, Consulting, and Joint Ventures within the self storage industry. For more information, contact Matthew Van Horn at
(772)-370-1273 or visit our website at www.cuttingedgeselfstorage.com.