Part 1: Fencing, Lighting, Landscaping and More
You often hear the phrase, “Make a Good First Impression”, and that rings true for the appearance of your self storage facility more than you may realize. In this two-part blog on Curb Appeal, we’ll review the items that need to be in tip-top shape, ones you should consider approving, and some simple steps you can take now to make improvements to your facility and your self storage marketing.
In Part 1, we talk about the physical appearance of your property and how to enhance and improve it. Let’s start from the outside and work our way in, which seems the most logical way to approach this.
First of all, do you have a fence around your property with an access gate? If you don’t, you really should consider getting one. This is often the first thing a customer sees when driving by your property. In fact, without even turning your head while driving by, a perimeter fence will be noticed in your peripheral vision. Because the fence will typically be quite long to follow your property line and road frontage, it is easy to spot without even thinking about it. When someone sees a perimeter fence, they think of safety and security immediately. That fence is an automatic deterrent to criminals. Yes, if someone really wants to break into your property, they are going to find a way to do it and could jump the fence. However, just the fact that a fence is in place makes them want to look for an easier target, like a property without the complication of a fence.
Your fence should always be in good repair as well. Make sure that all the poles are straight and in good shape. The fence itself should have no areas of breakage or damage either. Your access gates, which are typically along the back of your property, should be in good repair and functional at all times in case you ever need to use them for any reason. Check around the bottom where the fence meets the ground, and make sure the fence has not been pushed up where someone could get underneath.
If you don’t have a fence on the perimeter, feelings of security will often go right out the window. So be sure and have a fence at all your self storage properties.
People visit their storage units at all hours. Plus, many facilities offer 24-hour access. That means your customers can stop by at 3am just as easily as 3pm. So, you need to ensure your property is well lit for your customers to help them feel safe when visiting.
All of your lights need to be in working order. What’s the point of having 15 light poles if only 10 of them are working at any given time? Clearly you thought it worth the expense to have the 15 lights installed, so they better work – or what’s the point?
And, a well-lit property is also a deterrent for illegal activity. If passersby can see clearly down the storage aisles, people are less likely to be doing something they shouldn’t be for fear that they will be seen. Again, the lighting provides an extra level of security for you and safety for your customers.
Now this one can be overlooked quite often. You may think as long as you cut the grass and pull the weeds, all is good to go. Not true. You need to plant some shrubbery and flowers around the entrance, the main signage and the rental office. You want to create a welcoming atmosphere, and plants and flowers will surely do that for you.
Think about your home for a minute. Most likely you spend more money than you planned or wanted to on flowers each spring to pretty everything up and make your house a home. Your self storage property shouldn’t be any different. People are putting their possessions in their storage units on your property. They wouldn’t do that if those possessions didn’t have value to them – they would simply toss them or donate them. So, they want to feel like you care about their stuff as much as they do. Something as simple as flowers and manicured shrubs, can convey the feeling that you really care because you take the time and effort and put forth the expense to make your property look so nice.
Paving and Driveways.
It’s not always practical to have pavement throughout your entire storage property. However, the main entrance and driveway to the rental office should be paved at the very least. This goes back to the whole first impression saying – if what they can see on first sight looks the best, then you are in good shape. It is ideal to pave all the driveways through your storage buildings, so if you can afford this capital improvement you should invest in it.
Repair your potholes regularly! If your property is in a state like Pennsylvania where you will use more salt than you ever want to in the winter, and where the ground freezes and thaws a lot, potholes are a definite occurrence for you. Cold patching may not be cost effective during the winter, but if the pothole is large enough you need to take care of it immediately. Then go back in the spring and do a proper patch job to make it like new.
Many times outdoor parking spaces for autos, boats and RVs are left gravel – and that is perfectly OK. If you want to pave some or all of your outdoor parking spaces, you can charge a premium for these spots quite easily. Customers who spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment each month for their luxury RV are going to be willing to pay more to park it on asphalt than on gravel or grass…and in fact they may request it to keep their prized motor home in peak condition.
Buildings and Doors.
We all know that customers somehow manage to back into storage buildings and the unit doors more than you would think possible. But, it happens regularly to all storage owners. Make sure you get those dents and damage repaired quickly to keep your property looking its best. Dents in doors can also prevent them from working properly and could cause more damage over time if the dent is large enough. Be sure to budget for building and door repair each year, because most likely you will have repairs to make each year. It’s pretty much inevitable.
To wrap up Part 1 of our Curb Appeal series, let’s recap quickly. The exterior parts of your storage property are seen first and can give either a great or terrible first impression. Don’t be that guy who lets the weeds go nuts and grow three feet high before noticing them, or who lets the paint noticeably chip and peel off the building before you even care, or the guy who has potholes all over the driveways making your customers treat them like a slalom course at the Olympics! Take care to maintain your property regularly and you will give off that great first impression that you want to your existing and your potential customers.
In our next Curb Appeal blog, Part 2 will go over items like your company signage, self storage marketing messages and overall branding to help improve your Curb Appeal even more. Stay tuned!