Crime Prevention Tips for Self-Storage Facilities

Vandalism cost small businesses an average of nearly $3,500 per incident. Lost sales, repairs and replacements, business interruption, are among the many losses your self-storage facility can face after experiencing a crime. Plus, the attack doesn’t always come from the outside; sometimes, employees or customers cause a loss. These crime prevention tips will help you protect your business from financial damage. 

Develop Cash-Handling Procedures

Small businesses and enterprises alike experience money theft. Much of the time, employees don’t follow best practices for handling cash — mainly because they are untaught. As a result, employee training goes a long way to protect your money. Besides keeping your eye on your money, try keeping less cash on-site and investing in cash management technology to boost your accuracy. 

Also, consider reviewing your cash-handling history. Do you continually experience differences? Or is your petty cash in the same drawer as your slush fund? Do you have a schedule for handling money, and have you been strict about following those procedures? 

Although each loss might only add up to a few bucks, the financial damage can be significant over time. Look for ways that you and your employees can tighten up cash-handling procedures. 

Screen Employees Thoroughly

Employee theft accounts for over one-third of business bankruptcies. As astounding as this fact is, small businesses often take the brunt of the damage. Unfortunately, it’s tough to screen employees to avoid petty theft or even cash larceny. Consider the five most popular ways businesses experience employee theft:

  1. Inventory theft
  2. Data theft
  3. Payroll theft
  4. Theft of services
  5. Theft of cash

If you plan on entrusting any number of employees with cash handling, product or service management, or sensitive information, you must follow a vetting process for these individuals. Naturally, it’s challenging to screen candidates for every single kind of theft. After all, up to 75% of all employees have stolen something from an employer at one time. Whether it’s walking out with a company pen or stealing cash funds from the register, employee theft is widespread. 

Nevertheless, consider pre-employment screening as your first line of defense against employee theft. Talk to a candidate’s previous employers, complete a background check, or examine social media for examples of questionable behavior. 

Update Your Security

Self-storage facility owners struggle finding the best locks continually. Vandals can cut padlocks and bust through weather-worn fences or gates. Consider upgrading your traditional padlock for safer alternatives. Invest in security cameras, and keep the cash box or register area under constant surveillance. 

Also, install lights around your property to repel burglars during non-business hours. If you have an on-site safe, change the passcode or combination regularly, and make daily bank deposits instead of keeping money in your office overnight.

These simple changes might seem like minor adjustments, but they will help prevent crime from causing your self-storage facility financial damage in the long run.

Positioning Your Self Storage Business for Sale

Selling a business can be a difficult and often personal process. Business owners can treat their business like a child they brought into the world, making it hard to let go. Owners want to see the business they created thrive even if they no longer own it which is why finding the right buyer is so important. Finding the right buyer can be a difficult task, however as a business broker, I have helped dozens of small business owners sell their business and there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier while ensuring buyers see value in your company.

Determining the Right Time to Sell

Ideally, you will want to plan your exit one-to-two years in advance while continuing to grow your business. You should contact a broker to explore your options well in advance of the sale of your self-storage facility. Many business owners think that is way too early to engage a broker, but a professional business broker will appreciate the planning.

In my experience, many owners tend to overvalue their business leading to some difficult lessons about selling their business. When you think every day about selling your business you may have already checked what other similar companies are selling for. Just because another self-storage facility sold for a certain amount does not necessarily mean you will get the same value.

That said, putting your business on the market with at least 2-3 years of positive growth will be more appealing, more valuable and easier to sell.

Determine Sales Price

When determining the selling price, we look at several different variables. These include financials, the owner’s role in the business, how many hours they work a week, the experience of the management team, the quality of the assets, and how the business is trending year over year.

When it comes to your financials you should have at least the last 3 years of income statements, balance sheets, and corresponding tax returns. A buyer will look at this information to see if the business is profitable.

A profitable business will typically be valued based on the seller’s discretionary earnings. These earnings are the pre-tax and pre-interest profits before non-cash expenses, one-time investments and any non-related income expenses. Having detailed books and records with verifiable discretionary earnings, will yield greater results and value for your business.

Look at what comparable businesses have sold for to help you decide an attainable asking price. Keeping in mind of course this is simply the asking price and the final sales price can vary. To achieve the highest results the more attractive you make your business, the more potential buyers you’ll attract, the higher sales price you will receive in the end.

Maintaining Your Facility

To receive proper value for your business you must maintain high standards. Make sure your facility is clean. You don’t want a potential buyer turned off because you didn’t power wash the concrete, replace rusted locks, or fix faulty unit doors.

Additionally, a buyer is not going to pay top dollar for a business requiring thousands of dollars in repairs. If something is broken fix it before you show your business. You may not need to invest in new units, you just need to maintain your equipment. If a piece of equipment is on the verge of breaking, then disclose this information to the buyer so you don’t have issues after closing.

Managing Your Online Presence

Buyers doing their due diligence on your business can easily gauge the perception of your facility through online reviews. Managing your reputation online is important. Obtain new 5-star reviews. Good reviews go a long way in solidifying the goodwill associated with your business.

The goal of this process is to bolster your positive reviews while driving down any old negative reviews, if any. Businesses with negative reviews are not appealing to buyers. If you have any PR issues, I highly recommend fixing common complaints such as access issues or dirty facilities before a potential buyer brings them up.

Again, this is why planning an exit is important. Having 1-2 years since your last batch of negative reviews, if any, can help you sell your business faster and for a greater value.

Selling your business can be a complex process. Follow these tips as you are planning your sale to position your business for the best possible evaluation and sale.

About the author

Brian Bond is the principal of Strategic Business Brokers Group, in affiliation with American Realty Brokers who has helped dozens of owners sell their businesses across Arizona. Bond has been named “Broker of the Year” by the Arizona Business Broker Association.

Cybersecurity Considerations for Self-Storage Facilities

Since the global pandemic has sped up most businesses’ digitization roadmaps, your self-storage facility is likely experiencing digital changes that impact your business. With more customers performing functions on mobile devices instead of in your office, your company undoubtedly faces more cyber risks. Here’s what self-storage facility owners should consider when it comes to cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Risks for Self-Storage Facilities 

Small companies face significant cybersecurity threats, with half of all cyberattacks targeting small businesses. Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t consider themselves at risk of a cyberattack — and don’t adequately protect themselves. 

All too often, self-storage facilities are a prime target for cybercriminals, mainly because these online thieves steal and use customer information to access bank accounts. If you’ve updated your customer relationship management (CRM) systems to be more tech-enabled, your business could face more risks than you know. 

Common Cyber Attacks 

Understanding the cyber risks your business faces is vital; however, it’s also crucial to educate yourself on trending scams. The following are some of the most common cyberattacks on self-storage facilities:

  • Malware: Short for “malicious software,” malware is any software purposefully designed to damage computers, servers, or computer networks (i.e., viruses). 
  • Phishing: Impersonators, or “bad actors,” pretend to be a trusted party via email and then fraudulently obtain sensitive information, such as passwords, usernames, or credit card numbers. 
  • Passwords: Whether by brute force or an automated system, cybercriminals attempt several password combinations to gain access to confidential information. 
  • Ransomware: This type of malware threatens to make your sensitive information public or block access to it unless you pay the ransom. 

Cyberattack Costs

In the United States, the average cyberattack costs small businesses $955,429 to restore operations after a successful attack. Merely determining how the attack occurred could cost an astounding $15,000. Human error counts for over half of all cyberattacks, including compromised employee passwords.

After a breach, self-storage facilities must notify their tenants, manage recovery efforts, pay fines and penalties, upgrade software systems, monitor credit reporting, and more. Sadly, 60% of small businesses that experience a cyberattack go out of business within six months

How to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks

With so much at stake, self-storage facility owners must double and triple-check their security measures to safeguard their software. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

  • Protect your network: Change your router’s default name and disable remote management. Also, ban personal devices from connecting to your network and limit connectivity. Require multi-factor authentication, such as a rotating PIN when employees access their email or the company’s network. 
  • Password training: Implement a password-security policy to help employees create strong passwords to outsmart cybercriminals. 
  • Use encrypted data: Only 22% of small businesses encrypt their databases, making the others easy targets for cybercriminals. Store system data safely in the cloud and backup your information regularly. 
  • Make a recovery plan: Consider mapping out restoration efforts or investing in cyber insurance to help mitigate the damage of a cyber attack.

5 Tips for Increasing Your Self-Storage Facility Profits

Although plenty of people need a place to store their belongings, getting those folks to choose your facility can seem tricky. Competition is steep. Plus, legal and financial setbacks can damage your longevity. Here’s a look at some insider tips to help your facility get the exposure it needs to win new business and increase your self-storage facility profits.

1. Analyze Current Data 

For starters, it’s vital to know how well your current marketing strategy is working, which means you must measure marketing results. Consider figuring out how your customers find you (i.e., online search engines, referrals, Yellow Pages, and ads). What marketing funnel works the best as a sales lead? Data analysis is telling; you can learn a lot about your business. 

Furthermore, what do your customers honestly want, and are you giving that to them? What are your competitors doing differently? Take stock in your current data, and use it to your advantage. 

2. Master Your Brand 

Think about what’s special or memorable about your self-storage facility? Do you have a unique selling point that sets you above the rest? Many times, business owners focus solely on pricing, disregarding niche products or angles. 

Upon closer inspection, you’ll likely discover organic specialties you offer customers. Consider highlighting those aspects of your business. Perhaps you have climate-controlled units that are scarce in your area. Or maybe you offer helpful in-app services. Avoid being shy about your best features. 

3. Recruit Marketing Help

There’s nothing simple about executing a successful marketing campaign. Sometimes trends shift overnight, and industry best practices change. Keeping up with all the new information is challenging. 

Instead of tackling your marketing efforts alone, consider hiring help. Marketing agencies and firms can strategize for you, even when you’re dealing with a shoestring budget. From digital strategies to networking freelancers to telling your business story, a marketing firm can help to increase your self-storage facility profits

4. Offer Unique Deals

We mentioned this point earlier; however, think about what you offer your current and potential customers. What kind of deals do you offer prospects? Do you have a rewards program?

Many self-storage facilities sell boxes, tape, and other storage products for their customers to use. Maximize your profits by offering package deals, such as sign up for automatic payments and get ten boxes free. Try to cater to the customers in your area and your unique business specialties. 

5. Encourage Referrals

How much business do referrals drum up for your self-storage facility? If the number is low, it’s time to think about pursuing this marketing strategy. Although it might take some time for it to pan out, it’s a multi-tiered marketing campaign that you can profit from for years to come. 

Referrals can come from former and current customers as well as employees. It’s about turning these individuals into strong advocates for your business. Plus, once you’ve found your rhythm, this campaign will continue to gain massive momentum. 

Storing Paper Documents in Self-Storage Facilities

The preservation of business records and personal documents should be a concern for anyone archiving their files. Often the first-place people look to store boxes of documents is a self-storage unit. However, most self-storage units do not have temperature or humidity control so you may want to rethink using these facilities. When paper records are stored incorrectly damage such as foxing (the browning of paper) can occur. Here are some considerations we as storage professionals suggest you think about when deciding to store your documents.

How to store old paper documents

If you are a business owner using paper documents such as insurance files, medical records, legal file folders, invoices, confidentiality agreements and registration documents these items need special care when storing. Paper documents need to be stored flat in a cool, dark and dry area. Exposure to light, extreme heat and moisture can damage the paper material. Paper should always be stored in acid-free alkaline containers. You should consider not keeping paper documents in areas with high humidity like self-storage units. Storing your documents in these locations can promote mold growth and foxing. Ideally, you want to store your paper documents in a room with a regular temperature of 72 degrees with a consistent humidity level of 35%. To assure this, make sure you rent a climate-controlled self-storage unit.

Securing your documents

If you are out of options for storing your documents and decide on using a self-storage facility, ensure the location has adequate security. You want to store your documents in a secure facility so make sure to inquire about what types of security they provide and what you are responsible for. Investing in a strong lock will provide a measure of safety for your belongings. Also, be sure to get insurance on your unit in case it is broken into or damaged by fire or water.

Speak with the manager of the facility before renting a unit. Ask them about their security protocols. Do they have on-site security? Do they have working cameras? Do they have a way to document who comes in and out? Understanding the security risks beforehand will help you determine if using a self-storage facility is worth the risk.

Keep your records at home

If you are having doubts about using a self-storage unit then keep your important documents at home. Personal documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, wills and insurance papers are best kept where they can be easily accessed if needed. When storing your paper documents at home you will still want to protect them. A good way to keep your documents safe is by placing them in a fireproof safe. Fireproof safes will protect your documents from not only a fire but also water damage. When possible, you should digitally scan your documents, so you have backups if anything does happen to the paper copies.

You may want to consider using a safe deposit box if you only have a few small documents you are looking to securely store. Documents such as, old family letters or autographs on paper will fit in most safe deposit boxes. A safe deposit box is a secure container, requiring a key, made of metal that is used to store valuables at a bank or credit union. Safe deposit boxes are often kept in secure rooms and require an annual fee.

Self-Storage units are a great way to store furniture, bikes and other large items but aren’t always the best choice when it comes to physical documents. The potential for fire and water damage is prevalent at self-storage unit facilities and there is always the chance of a break-in. If you do decide to store your documents in a self-storage unit speak with the manager about climate- controlled units and their safety protocols. 

If you are storing records that could be qualified as HIPAA or FACTA sensitive, then you should make sure that only authorized individuals have access to them.

Raymond Rangel is the Sales Manager of Data Storage Centers in Phoenix, Arizona. Data Storage Centers are experts in the storage and organization of physical media and sensitive records for commercial enterprises.