Armed with renewed optimism about the economy, enthusiasm for your business and money burning a hole in your pocket, you decide to check out facility improvement options. Given that costs can mount up quickly, where do you start?
“[It depends] on the age of the facility, and how well it has been maintained over the years,” noted Lindsey Hazlehurst, owner of Waikato Enterprises, Inc., a construction company specializing in new and retrofit storage, pre-engineered buildings and security systems. Since 1998, the Chicago-based “one-stop shop” for the self-storage industry has constructed more than five million square feet of new and retrofit facilities.
Three levels of facility enhancement
Among the lower-cost improvements that Hazlehurst recommends are water blasting of exteriors, cleaning of gutters and downspouts, seal coating of driveways and cleaning of interiors. “Facilities often underestimate the value of money spent on cleaning,” he emphasized.
Self-storage facilities with the budget and desire to add a bit more property pizzazz should consider a variety of items at “the next level, which would mean a little more cost,” according to Hazlehurst. He cited painting the exterior and exterior roll-up doors, epoxy coating on interior hallway floors, upgrading of access controls and camera systems, re-lamping and addition of motion sensors to control interior lighting, and adding music and intercom systems as primary to-dos in this mid-range category.
Owners ready for more extensive enhancements should consider office remodeling, exterior and main entry point facelifts, door replacements, re-roofing, retrofit lighting with LED, unit re-mix and increasing leasable square footage, and facility expansion, Hazlehurst said.
“As the economy improves, we are seeing more owners replacing old single-story buildings with multi-story buildings to increase square footage,” he pointed out.
Choosing the right vendors
Self-storage owners considering any of these levels of property enhancement would be well-advised not to let their enthusiasm outpace due diligence in selecting the right company for any outsourced work. First, look for a variety of satisfied clients whose comments – in online reviews or face-to-face conversation – address specific elements of jobs completed and specific points of satisfaction. Waikato, for example, has an entire web page full of meaty testimonial letters that consistently communicate kudos about the firm.
In addition, search online for more information about the company you’re considering, digging beneath what’s on their website. Go a few pages into search engine results, search queries that include such keywords as “complaints,” “problems” and other terms that tie to dissatisfied customers. Don’t necessarily rule out a firm because of a complaint or two, as there always will be unhappy people. However, do look for negative as well as positive patterns and the quantity of unfavorable comments.
Before hiring any company, meet face-to-face. You can still tell more about someone by looking in their eyes, reading their body language and assessing their overall demeanor than can be accessed over the phone, via email, or on a website.
Photo courtesy of WaikatoInc.com