Self-Storage Unit Fire Hazards and Prevention

Fire hazards are a serious risk for self-storage units. While most clients are responsible unit renters, there are some that might not be so attentive when regarding safety. Protecting tenants belongings from fire hazards is a key tenant of fire safety for self-storage owners. Letting your clients know the risks and supplying them with information to prevent fires is critical when renting units to individuals.

Spotting fire hazards

Fires can start in many ways. Some fires are started by natural causes such as lightning, but most fires are started by people. Self-storage operators need to post signs notifying tenants of potentially hazardous materials that are prohibited from being stored inside their units. These materials include flammable liquids, chemicals and gas-powered tools.

Operators should also inform their clients about inspection processes and encourage them to carefully observe the storage facility’s landscaping and maintenance. Self-storage operators who do not take the time to perform regular maintenance may not be observant about looking out for potential fire hazards.

Preventing fires 

When renting out units to clients share a few fire precautions:

  • It may make financial sense for a person to rent out a small storage unit but overcrowding can become a potential fire hazard.
  • Explain to the client the need for a larger space when necessary to prevent any hazards from taking place.
  • Paper items, photographs and important documents should be store in a fire-proof safe.
  • If the storage unit is equipped with a sprinkler system, discuss the potential damage that can be caused to items in cardboard boxes and furniture in the instance the sprinkler system is activated.
  • Show your clients where the fire extinguishers are located on your property. Extinguishers should be located within 75-feet on the unit for quick and easy access in case of a fire emergency.
  • The fire extinguishers should be ABC models capable of putting out most basic fires.

Discuss with the client the fire prevention protocols you have in place within your units. Smoke detectors, heat monitors, alarms and lighting should all be pointed out during the initial meeting with the client. 

Knowing the fire risks

Self-storage facilities do not provide insurance for their client’s items. Clients need to provide their own insurance when renting storage units in the event of damage resulting from a fire. Self-storage facility owners need to speak with their clients annually to review their insurance policy and ensure they have the correct coverage to protect their items. If available, self-storage operators should advise their tenants to purchase insurance available through the storage unit facility.

Fires can start quickly and unexpectedly. Knowing the fire risks and how to prevent fires at your storage facility is essential in keeping clients and their belongings safe. Have your facilities inspected annually by a professional fire inspector to ensure you are following federal fire safety guidelines and that your facility is up to code.

Author:

Chad Connor is the Owner of Affordable Fire & Safety, LLC in Gilbert, Arizona with almost 30 years of experience as a fire inspector.

How to Use Technology to Retain More Self-Storage Customers

Winning customers is one thing, but keeping those customers around for the long haul is another challenge. This post covers how self-storage facility owners can improve their customer relationship management by offering various conveniences. 

E-payments

For starters, modern-day society appreciates easy and safe payment methods. Checks and large cash transactions are no longer as popular as they once were. Most consumers are tech-driven and desire quick clicks to accomplish the most sophisticated tasks. 

For example, if a tenant finds it too inconvenient to make their monthly payment to your company, they might go elsewhere. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 study, the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, 42% of consumers opted to use a debit card as their payment method. 

However, thanks to digitization and the 2020 global pandemic, digital wallets, and other methods are catching on quickly. No matter what payment option you offer to your customers, they need to be online and tech-enabled

In-App Notifications

Besides online payment methods, consumers frequently wish their customer experience to be hassle-free, interactive — and enjoyable. While websites are still necessary as an online base for your business, mobile apps are swiftly becoming deal-makers and breakers. 

According to Statista, there were 218 billion mobile downloads worldwide in 2020. Tools, communication, and travel are among the most popular apps, to name a few. Naturally, the self-storage industry falls in the category of markets benefitting from in-app purchases and notifications. 

Remember that you don’t have to hire a developer or develop an app yourself to maintain more self-storage customers. Plenty of software exists that you can use to run your business. Not only is this type of software generally easy to use, but it’s an excellent investment in your self-storage company

Online Applications and Reservations

Websites and apps provide user-friendly services, such as tenant screening, applications, and reservations. These options prevent prospects from having to make numerous phone calls, fill out paperwork, and visit your facility in person. Plus, as an owner, you no longer have to upkeep a spacey brick-and-mortar office or mounds of paper files. 

Although not every home in the United States has a reliable internet connection, most individuals in the US have access to an electronic device and internet. Consider that 97% of Americans own a cell phone, while 85% own a smart device. Cafes, colleges, libraries, and more organizations, offer free or budget-friendly internet access. What this means for self-storage facility owners is that online is the place to be.

The Digital Age offers a more cost-effective way to serve your customers. With the right software, your tenants can enjoy the conveniences of in-app services, and you can maintain more self-storage customers. 

How to Manage Pests in a Self-Storage Facility

Every self-storage facility owner understands the damage pests can do to personal belongings. On that same note, prospective clients tend to shop around when searching for the best self-storage facility. Not only do they compare prices, security, and location, but they also look for cleanliness — meaning pest-free. Here are a few tips to help keep pests at bay.

Understand the Risk

No one knows better the harm pests cause than the former tenants of an Armuchee, Georgia self-storage facility. Not only was its sudden closure partially due to damage caused by a barrage of rats, but tenants only had weeks to remove their belongings. 

Unfortunately, pests cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to homes and self-storage facilities alike. Battling these nuisances requires an understanding of why they want to invade buildings in the first place — and then spread the words to tenants.

Educate Tenants 

Pests tend to rely on the vulnerability of paper to fulfill their appetite for destruction. Rats, bugs, and a slew of other annoyances can chew straight through cardboard boxes or paper bags. Using plastic totes helps to ward off pests, especially when storage bins are stacked or up off the floor. 

Additionally, clean cooking items thoroughly and avoid storing any food altogether. Even candles and potpourri can attract pests. But it’s not enough knowing the ins and outs of successful pest-free storage. 

Educating tenants takes effort. Include these tips in the contract. Leave helpful pamphlets in your main office area. Make beneficial information available for your tenants to help their self-storage experience a positive one. 

Hire a Pest Control Professional

If rats, mice, or other varmints make it past your frontlines, it’s time to hire a pest control professional. Keep in mind that not all professionals are created equal, so do your due diligence in hiring one. 

Choose a licensed pest control professional, and be sure they’re bonded and insured. Ask for referrals and use word of mouth to find the best professional for your needs. Aside from confirming their certifications, make sure they know their stuff. Do they answer all your questions in detail? Are they willing to contract for ongoing service? What chemicals or traps do they use?

Remember, all of this information is useful and practical. But keep in mind, the cheapest isn’t always the best. Be willing to get a “guaranteed satisfaction” agreement and expect documentation for the services provided. 

Protecting your self-storage facility from pests is a hefty task. If you don’t call the shots, though, the pests will undoubtedly win this battle. 

How to Recover from a Damaged Professional Reputation

Most businesses experience a dip in their rapport with customers — even top self-storage facilities. It takes strategy to recover from such an extreme hit. Whether your self-storage facility received terrible reviews, dealt with a pest problem, or experienced a costly cyberattack, here’s how to rebound.

Identify the Negative Press 

It’s imperative to identify what damaged your company’s reputation in the first place. Are there a slew of negative reviews on a search engine, such as Google or Bing, drowning out anything positive? Is an unhappy customer spreading negative news about your services on social media? Is a former employee or competitor taking their issues to YouTube? Was there a break-in or other incident?

Once you pinpoint where the negative press is circulating, it’s time to use those same platforms to spread a new message. Instead of going on the defense, consider a more forward-thinking approach to rebuilding your reputation. 

Boost Positive Reviews 

Before you dive into reputation recovery mode, remember that several platforms can boost your self-storage facility rankings online. Consider Pinterest, YouTube, FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name a few popular platforms. Revamping your social media profiles works in tandem with prominent search engines, meaning information crosses over from one another.  

Resolve Issues

First, if a tenant genuinely has an issue with your facility, own up to your company’s failures. Apologize publicly and swiftly. Not only does this display a sense of responsibility, but it shows that you honestly want to fix problems or cracks in your business. Keep in mind that an unhappy customer tells ten people, but a customer with resolved issues tells twice as many. Identify clear and concrete steps that you will take to resolve the problem and prevent it from reoccuring.

Use Content Marketing

Another valuable bonus to the Digital Age is that content marketing is highly influential. You can reach a large audience while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. Perhaps you publish helpful how-to blog posts or offer downloadable checklists for tenants. Regardless of the specific topics you choose to write about, try to view your business from the customer’s point of view. Give them what they need on the platforms they visit. 

Feature Testimonials

Remember to use testimonials to improve your reputation. Not every tenant is out to sink your reputation. Ask current tenants to write positive reviews on search engines and social media platforms. Additionally, feature these testimonials on your website so that prospective tenants can read them. 

Take Customer Cues

Lastly, take your cues from your customers. They already know what they want from your business, so listen intently to their expectations. Be straightforward — ask customers what they want out of your business, and take those suggestions to heart. Don’t forget to reward existing and loyal customers. The bread-and-butter tenants can do wonders for your reputation, so give them a pat on the back now and then. 

Recovering from a damaged reputation is a tall order — but it’s not impossible, and you don’t need to buy your reputation back with false promises. Put in the work, and you’ll boost your reputation in due time.

Alternatives to Traditional Padlocks for Self-Storage Facilities

As a self-storage facility owner, you owe it to your tenants to give them top-notch security. Aside from video surveillance and other reasonable precautions, a clever move is to consider alternatives to traditional padlocks.

Although padlocks are often the go-to security for self-storage, plenty more options are available. New technology and materials mean more protection for site owners. Here’s a look at three high-security locks to replace your padlocks.

Padlock Problems

Only a few external locks offer maximum protection; however, thieves and burglars easily defeat the old linchpin of the padlock regularly. Its pitfall is the schematic pin and tumbler system, making it a cinch to pick the lock. With hundreds of DIY lock-picking tutorials online, it’s only a matter of time before thieves take YouTube videos to heart.  Padlocks are only a deterrent, not a full-proof method of preventing a break-in.

1. Combination Locks 

Combination locks add a layer of protection by coupling the power of the traditional pin-and-tumbler lock and adding a sequence of symbols or numbers. Inputting this sequence is the only way to unlock it. Also, these lock types don’t use keys like padlocks, so no more losing keys.

Remember, combination locks are susceptible to traditional cracking methods — but not many thieves can master that skill. Unfortunately, unless they’re closed-shackle locks, this type can be snipped with bolt-cutters, too. Even though they work in many situations, sometimes you need more protection, so it pays to consider disc locks and electronic locks. 

2. Disc Locks

Disc locks are similar to padlocks but have a more reliable history. They have a short, embedded hasp, making them suitable for self-storage facilities. Plus, bypassing the keyhole is challenging, so potential thieves tend to give up on the endeavor. The locks’ shape makes it nearly impossible for criminals to snip it with a pair of bolt-cutters. They’re often designed with a pin and tumbler keyhole, making them susceptible to bump keys. Using an alternative to the pin and tumbler is essential to ensure security. Thankfully, plenty of disc locks use alternative designs. 

3. Electronic Locks

If you’re looking for ultimate security, consider the electronic lock. It’s unusual to find these locks on self-security units, but they’re trendy on gates or external doors. They’re highly resistant to tampering thieves. Plus, they don’t have keyholes to breach. 

One reason these locks are so effective is that the design removes the traditional lock and key function. Instead, they’re opened with keypads or magnetic swipe cards. This layer of protection makes it incredibly challenging for thieves to breach your tenant’s personal information and beat the lock.

No matter which lock design you choose to use for your external gates and doors, remember that your facility’s security is of utmost importance.