In Step 5 of our content series, “How to Start a Self-Storage Business,” we explore different property management styles. Your options for effectively managing your self-storage business include traditional, on-site management, automated facility management, or a combination of the two. The biggest difference between the property management styles is the physical presence (or lack thereof) of a manager. And you do not have to choose one method over the other. Some businesses opt for a combination of both, using on-site managers for certain tasks while outsourcing other tasks to a remote management company. Whatever you choose, it is important to develop a streamlined operational process for smooth day-to-day management. So, in this post, we consider how your management style works in areas such as security, billing, customer service, and maintenance.
On-site property management involves having dedicated personnel present at the storage facility to handle day-to-day operations, interact with customers, and address any issues or concerns on the spot. You can choose to manage the facility yourself or hire a dedicated on-site manager to handle day-to-day operations. The responsibilities include leasing units, managing payments, handling customer inquiries, and overseeing maintenance. There is also facility upkeep, such as inspection of the grounds, ensuring proper lighting, addressing pest control, and maintaining the condition of storage units. The manager acts as a liaison between the storage facility and its customers, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for everyone. One of the most beneficial aspects of having an on-site property manager is being able to immediately respond to customer needs with hands-on service and personalization.
More and more, facilities are using property management software to automate and streamline tasks. Third-party management for self-storage businesses involves outsourcing the operational and managerial aspects of a self-storage facility to an external company. Instead of the facility owner or staff handling day-to-day operations, a third-party management company takes over these responsibilities on their behalf. For example, 3rd party property management can help automate rental agreements, payment processing, inventory management, and reporting. These technological solutions can simplify administrative work and improve overall efficiency. Overall, remote property management can provide operational efficiency and potentially improve financial performance for the self-storage facility.
By simply having an on-site property manager, you can maintain the security of the self-storage facility. In case of any suspicious activities or security breaches, the on-site manager takes immediate action, including contacting law enforcement if necessary. In case of emergencies such as fire, flooding, or other incidents, the on-site manager takes charge of the situation. And if a self-storage business has robust locking and entry systems, such as surveillance cameras, gated access systems, and secure locks, this can ensure the safety of its belongings as well. Often, self-storage businesses will have a variety of security systems in place. With smart entry and locking systems, customers can access their units through keypads, phone, or electronic gate touch screens. That’s convenient and safe!
One of the most basic responsibilities for your property manager, whether that’s a person and/or automated software, is collecting the rent from tenants. On-site property managers handle rent payments, late fees, and other financial transactions related to the storage units. When customers arrive at the facility, the on-site manager guides them through the rental process. This involves explaining the terms and conditions, assisting with paperwork, collecting payments, and ensuring that customers understand the rules and regulations of the facility. The other option is to handle your billing remotely. You can implement online rental reservations and provide online payment portals to enhance convenience for customers. This can include renting units, making payments, and managing accounts through a website or a mobile app. Today’s customers are increasingly comfortable with online transactions. And it is easy to keep track of customer leases, organize contracts, reminders, late fees, and rate adjustments through management software.
On-site property managers serve as the primary point of contact for customers. They handle inquiries, provide information about available storage units, assist with the rental process, and address any concerns or issues that customers may have. They also provide guidance on selecting the right unit size and offer suggestions for maximizing storage space. As your self-storage business grows, you might want to consider hiring additional staff to support your operations. A well-trained staff can enhance the overall customer experience and contribute to business success. Remote management may not be the most ideal for handling customer concerns. However, there are several ways this aspect of the business can be run remotely. For example, you will need to set up remote communication channels. Use tools like email, phone, and live chat to interact with customers. Consider using a cloud-based phone system to handle calls professionally. It is also a great idea to create a customer portal on your website where customers can manage their accounts, view invoices, update contact information, and request support. This empowers customers to handle routine tasks independently.
The on-site property manager is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness, security, and overall condition of the storage facility. Your manager will check and maintain all facets of your facility. This includes regular inspections, monitoring surveillance systems, ensuring proper lighting, and addressing any repairs or maintenance needs. Is the security system working? How is the keyless entry system? Are all the lights operating? Handling maintenance remotely for a self-storage business can be challenging but possible. One idea is to implement a preventive maintenance schedule. Once you develop a preventive maintenance plan, you can address regular tasks such as HVAC filter replacements, roof inspections, pest control, and security system checks. Schedule these tasks in advance and ensure they are carried out by local contractors. For some ideas for facility management and maintenance, check out our post, “Beyond Cleaning: A Maintenance Schedule for Movable Storage.”
The self-storage industry is dynamic, so we recommend being flexible. Your management approach may need to change over time. Stay updated on industry trends, customer preferences, and technological advancements. And continuously seek opportunities for improvement and expansion, whether it is through facility upgrades, targeted marketing campaigns, or exploring new services. When starting a self-storage business, the easiest and most cost-effective choices can be the most solid. The future of storage is looking good, and it feels like it is going to continue to grow. Whether you do the research yourself or get some help from industry experts, the more information you gather, the better prepared you will be. We hope you enjoy our content series on, “How to Start a Self-Storage Business.” In no time, your site will be transformed into a revenue-generating storage business!
At the core, Boxwell uses a hands-on approach to business that is carried throughout everything we do. When we need to talk, we pick up the phone. If there are questions, we demo our product. And when we’re intrigued with something new, we try it. If a team member needs help, we offer it. When our community needs support, we lend our resources. With compassion and innovative ways of “thinking outside of the box,” anything is possible. That’s our culture.
When building Boxwell, Rod Bolls set out to create a company that prioritizes a balance between working hard and playing hard. He aligns a strong business model with a strong team and a sustainable work environment. To achieve an ideal company culture, Rod nurtures every relationship. For example, this includes customers, partners, vendors, local non-profits, neighborhood sports teams, and museums. Our products include drive-up self-storage units, relocatable self-storage units, portable storage containers, moving containers, and restoration containers.
Boxwell units can help you increase your business’ revenue-generating space with units in a variety of sizes, including our new 10 x 20 units and our 8 x 20 units. Our portable containers and relocatable self-storage units are flexible, stackable, and beautiful! Boxwell is here to ensure that our products help you achieve your business goals.