What can you do to get more value out of your self-storage facility?
An aging self-storage facility might continually bring in profits for you as an owner, but are you really maximizing your property’s potential? It’s easy to put self-storage renovation projects on hold while we focus on filling our capacity, but you could be missing out on extra money by pushing these things to the back burner.
Complacency can sometimes come at a high cost in the storage industry. Sidestepping opportunities to improve your facility can leave the door open for new competition to swoop in and snatch customers away with newer, more modern facilities. Plus, there’s the chance that old storage unit doors and other components become a security or safety risk.
Simply put, nobody wants to store their goods at an old, run-down storage facility. So, how can you get more out of your property? Here are 9 self-storage renovation tips that will add value to your facility and keep customers around for the long run.
Know your Customers
How familiar are you with your customers? Do you have an idea of what kind of tenants you want to attract?
According to a study conducted by the Parham Group, more than 60 percent of self-storage customers are women and nearly 90 percent of customers are between the ages of 21 and 55 years old. Take a close look at your market. Are you in an area with a heavy millennial demographic or where the housing makeup is primarily town homes and apartments? Maybe you’re located in more of a retirement community. Knowing your customers and their self-storage storage needs is key to optimizing the value of your facility.
The safety of your customers should always be a high priority. Overlooking things that might seem like small issues could quickly turn into big problems.
Before you begin any self-storage renovation project, take inventory of items that are not in good working order. If you’re not in a position to remodel your entire facility at once, focus first on old doors and anything that is not functioning as it should. Customers can be seriously injured by faulty roll-up doors, or other issues at your facility. It’s best to be proactive about these problems and avoid potential injuries and lawsuits.
Once you take those steps to start improving your facility, insurance companies will often reward you by offering discounts for having a safer, more secure self-storage facility.
It's also a good idea to start making sure your facility is ADA compliant as many self-storage experts predict increasing scrutiny in the near future regarding ADA regulations and compliance.
Don’t Leave Customers in the Dark
Is your facility open to customers after hours? Making sure your property has ample lighting and plenty of visibility is very important to anyone that might need to take a late night trip to their storage unit.
Eliminate any dark corners at your facility by making LED lighting installation part of your self-storage renovation project plans. These lights are energy efficient and not only add to the overall safety and security of your site, but could also bring you some additional savings come tax time.
For most people, a storage facility must pass the “eye test” before they will ever consider renting. While new self storage doors will certainly add an enormous amount of curb appeal to your facility, going the extra mile with a little landscaping, new pavement, or outdoor lighting will go a long way.
You might be surprised to learn that there substantial tax advantages for most of these upgrades as well... but we'll get to that shortly!
Consider a Remix
Do you have some units at your site that remain perpetually vacant? Make better use of that space with a unit remix. If you have larger units that stay open while you’re filled to capacity with smaller ones, or just the opposite, it makes sense to remove or add in some new partitions and doors to offer more of the sizes you need and maximize your per square foot rental rates. Consider offering a mix of roll-up doors, swing doors, lockers, and even a section for climate controlled units if you don't currently offer it.
Replacing vs Painting
No self-storage renovation is complete without a fresh coat of paint on your doors and hallways, right? NOT QUITE.
Slapping a new coat of paint on old doors is like sweeping dirt under the rug. It may look shiny and new for a spell, but it won’t cover up the dings and dents that are sure to accumulate on metal roll-up doors and hallways. Plus, that paint will age and begin to flake or chip away only to leave you faced with the same problem in a couple of years.
Painting also adds extra weight, which can make an already hard-to-open storage unit door even more of a headache for tenants. Replacing self-storage doors and adding new skin to your hallways is a much better solution than just temporarily covering it up.
Utilize Extra Space
Do you have unused space surrounding your facility? Placing some extra storage units to maximize that area can be easier than you think.
It’s no secret that jumping through the local municipal hoops just to build an extra section of self-storage units can sometimes be an uphill battle. Portable storage units can be quickly added without interference from building codes or ordinances and in most cases, do not require a permit since they are classified as equipment.
These portable storage units can match your current storage facility both functionally and aesthetically and, thanks to new tax code revisions, the units are generally eligible for 100% tax deduction after just one year.
Take Advantage of Technology
The self-storage industry is changing and adding some technology upgrades during your renovation is a wise investment. More and more self-storage owners are looking to smarter access control systems to automate their daily operations, increase security, and improve the overall customer experience with mobile entry.
An industry-leading smart entry system allows you to fully automate the rental and move-in process, increase owner visibility into site activity, and eliminates manual tasks such as overlocking and lock checks. These electronic Bluetooth smart locks also provide the highest level of security, making break-ins virtually impossible.
What's even more innovative? With the new, on-door, battery operated smart locks now available, you can skip the cables and hasps and even purchase your new doors with with these smart locks preinstalled during production, making it the perfect solution for existing facilities.
As consumer expectations for automated systems and digital communication continues to rise, investing in the latest self-storage technology can help you stand out from your competition, lease up faster, and charge premium rental rates for your smart units.
Cost Segregation Benefits
Is it really a good long-term strategy to spend more money on improving your self storage facility? Given the substantial tax benefits through programs like cost segregation, absolutely!
Discarded items such as interior and exterior doors, interior partitions, hallway facades, metal framework, and even parking lots, landscaping and signage could actually be written off when tax season comes around. With partial asset disposition, a building owner can write down the remaining depreciable basis of items removed, as well as the costs for the removal and disposal of those items, as long as it’s in the same tax year of the renovation.
Instead of asking yourself why you should replace and restore your property, you're probably now wondering why you haven't done it sooner.