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.

Three Security Measures That Will Help Self-Storage Owners

One of the most important things a self-storage owner should do is protecting their tenants’ property. Self-storage facilities exist to give people some extra space to keep their things and it is important your tenants see that you take security at your self-storage facility seriously. There are a number of tools you can use to improve the security of your facility and using them will limit your liability if theft does occur. Here are a few security tools that will help self-storage owners protect tenants’ property.

Install smart cameras

Installing a security camera system is one of the best steps to beef up your security. Cameras allow you to record who comes in and out of your self-storage facility, gives police evidence if theft occurs, and deters potential thieves from burglarizing your facility. Every self-storage owner should invest in some form of security camera system.

Harrison Ward a Systems Design Consultant for smart tech installer Automated Environments said that self-storage owners should install people-oriented smart cameras that track license plates and have facial recognition.

“You are going to want to install security cameras that can recognize who is a tenant and who is not,” Ward said. “There are affordable security cameras that effectively record license plate numbers and recognize faces. Using these types of cameras ensure only people that need to be there are going into your self-storage facility.”  

Ward went on to say that it was imperative your cameras are people-oriented and motion-sensitive.

“You don’t want any camera with motion sensors. You want a camera that can distinguish between a person and an animal,” Ward said. “These cameras only start recording when a person walks in their vicinity. Using these cameras will save you a lot of money on data storage because the camera will not have recorded hours of useless footage.”

Self-storage owners should also look to install security cameras with infrared technology and the ability to record at night. Most commercial security cameras have this technology but it is still important to ask your security camera provider if the system you are considering has nighttime and infrared features.

There are both wired and wireless security cameras. A wired system is preferred since the cameras will still function if WIFI is down; however, not every self-storage facility has the necessary infrastructure for a wired setup. Wireless cameras are a great secondary option for self-storage owners who want to increase their security measures but don’t want to invest money to create the infrastructure for a wired system.

When you install your camera system you are going to want to place cameras in every major walkway, roll up, and doorway. It is imperative that you consider your tenants’ privacy when installing security cameras. Place cameras in areas that limit anyone’s ability to view the inside of an occupied self-storage unit.

Hire trained security guards

Cameras are a great visual deterrent for potential burglars, but you also need a physical deterrent. Hiring private security guards to look after your self-storage facility is another way to beef up the security at your facility.

Hiring a security team creates a physical presence that can respond to situations in real-time. A good security system can record or alert you to someone breaking into your facility, but hiring a security team can help you stop break-ins when they happen. Any burglar is going to think twice about stealing from a place that is being patrolled by a good security team.

Bill Herzog, Director of Operations at Lionheart Security Services in Tempe Arizona said a good security team is one of the best ways to prevent theft.

“Someone physically watching your property is the biggest deterrent to theft at self-storage facilities,” Herzog said. “You can have the best security system in the world, but only a human can stop a crime when it is happening.”

It is important you hire a security team that will respond to situations appropriately as they happen. You want to hire a team that knows how to deescalate situations. The point of hiring security is to protect your tenants’ property so you want to get someone who will not run and hide but also not try and start a fight.

Herzog said any security firms you hire should be licensed through your States Department of Public Safety and they should be willing to go over their security plans with you.

“You want to work with a company that is licensed and is willing to provide you the proper guidance,” Herzog said. “A good security team is walking the entire property with you, taking notes, finding access points, checking crime stats, and asking you what you need.

Do not hire a security team that is unable to give you a detailed plan for how they will protect your self-storage facility.

Hiring a security team creates a physical security force to go along with your security cameras.

Implement two-way radios for instant communication

A self-storage team that communicates effectively will be able to respond to emergency situations more quickly. Two-way radios are an efficient way for self-storage employees, owners, and security teams to communicate during a break-in. Two-way radios instant push-to-talk communication allows self-storage team members to reach one another from any area of the facility.

Stewart McClintic, Corporate Account Manager at two-way radio retailer said two-way radios are one of the quickest ways for self-storage teams to reach their colleagues.

“Instant communication via two-way radios is one of the best tools for employees and security teams at self-storage facilities to communicate suspicious incidents or distress calls,” McClintic said. “The push-to-talk benefits of two-way radios ensures that you can call for backup in a criminal situation at your self-storage facility.”

There are multiple types of two-way radios and selecting the right one is important. Self-storage facilities and their security teams should consider a high-powered digital UHF radio. UHF radios get better coverage in a more localized area and are better at getting signals through structures.

Security is important for every self-storage facility. Installing the right cameras, hiring the right security team, and giving employees the right communication tools are key to implementing a security strategy that will keep your tenant’s property safe from criminal activity.

Max Lancaster is a freelance writer specializing in stories to help small businesses.

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.


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