Self storage management 101 - how do you stay on top of daily and monthly tasks as a property manager? Here's our guide to help organise your pile of to-do’s into manageable chunks .
Managing a self storage facility is not an easy feat. There is an endless list of tasks and projects demanding attention, on top of the usual day-to-day move-ins, move-outs, new sign-ups, and customer troubles. We’ve written this guide to help organise your pile of to-do’s into manageable chunks .
First of all, it is helpful to organise your to-do’s into daily and monthly task lists. For this, divide your projects and to-do’s into areas and assign them frequency intervals.
Your list could look something like this.
· Exterior; 1) Gate & fence 2) Lawn 3) Parking and loading 4) Dumpsters
· Building; 1) Roof 2) Security equipment 3) Infrastructure 4) HVAC
· Interior; 1) Pest control 2) Lighting 3) Amenities 4) Intercoms
Next, you need tools and processes to prioritize tasks and decide on the frequency. If a pipe is leaking, a door lock needs an upgrade, and the call center is offering a new service – which should be the first to tackle? The pipe is clear, but which one should be next?
We suggest the following (mental) checklist in setting your priorities
- 1) Repairs and maintenance
Everything that is broken needs to be fixed first. You don’t want faulty locks or creepy blinking lights in your hallways. A well-maintained facility leaves a good first impression. Maintaining to prevent repairs is even better.
- 2) Improving CX
Next come projects that will enhance your customer experience. Happy customers are loyal customers, and a positive experience during the first interaction is more likely to convert a visitor into a paying customer.
- 3) All other projects
This category is for tasks that create additional revenue streams, reduce your costs or improve profitability. For example, adding more climate-controlled units, upgrading your lighting to LEDs, or installing solar panels on the roof that improves your CO2 footprint.
This list and prioritization will give you four types of tasks:
Daily tasks (e.g. cleaning toilets, checking the security cameras, etc.)
Tenant readiness tasks (cleaning the unit after move-out, door maintenance after move-out, etc.)
Annual or quarterly tasks (changing HVAC filters, testing your security alarms, etc.)
Seasonal tasks (e.g. shoveling snow in winter, etc.).
You can arrange this into a checklist to give to your facility manager or other on-site staff. The actual items in the list depend a lot on the geography and environment of the facility. No matter how thorough the planning, you cannot plan for the unexpected. Set aside time in your schedule every month and money in the budget as a buffer for those force majeure situations. Maybe a customer accidentally knocked off a sensor when moving in or severe hail damaged your roof.
If task lists don’t work for you at all, try other techniques to remember your tasks and the schedule you decided. For example, make a habit of checking and replacing air fresheners every second Monday. Add algaecide into the AC every time you lock out customers who are past due payment. Inspect the roof when the new season starts. The day when the utility bill arrives can be a day to check the front gate. Whatever memorization technique you use, the important bit is that you keep up the schedule to stay on top of things.
As a manager, you should pay special attention to preventive maintenance at your facility. Not only can you avoid costly repairs, but it will also train staff to be proactive and act on problems before they manifest. Because these tasks need a budget, you have to plan extra. A self storage facility has many components that are in use constantly and subject to wear and tear. Doors and locking mechanisms, your climate control system, your security system, and even your computer system need regular attention. Changing the filters on your HVAC regularly makes them run more efficiently and saves you money. Taking aside some time to update your website and firewall helps prevent costly data breaches, and inspecting your roof will help find damaged areas before rain floods a customer’s unit.
We recommend setting aside time in the calendar (and money in the budget) to inspect the facility and do preventive measures based on the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
As a manager, you have enough on your plate and enough to occupy your attention; no need to make your life harder than it already is. To paraphrase SCUBA divers: plan your day and live your plan.
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Related Article: Self Storage Maintenance Checklist