Preparing your storage facility for winter is all about taking advantage of the literal calm before the storm. You might not have gotten that blizzard of the century yet (the one that happens every year, despite the name), but taking proper steps before the snowflakes start falling will ensure that your self storage business can continue to run smoothly no matter how cold it gets.
Even if your storage facility is located in a place where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, it’s still important to be prepared. Unexpected cold snaps and storms can hit. We’ve all seen what it looks like when a city that’s unprepared for snow gets walloped with a blizzard.
Whether your storage facility is gearing up for regular snow showers or that once in a lifetime blizzard, here are five things to add to your winter prep checklist.
If you only do one thing to prepare your storage facility for winter, it should be having a plan for snow removal. You might think that a good pair of snow boots and a shovel is all you need to get the job done, but when your storage facility is slammed with an overnight blizzard and your tenants are complaining about the waist-deep snow between them and their drive-up storage units, you’ll wish you’d been more prepared.
If you live in an area with heavy snowfall every winter, contract a snow removal company. Do it before the worst of winter strikes, giving yourself time to compare rates and services. When looking for a snow removal contractor, ask a few key questions:
What services do you provide? Obviously, this will include snow removal, but it might also include deicing with salt or sand.
How quickly will you service the storage facility? After a big storm, you want to know how fast snow can be removed from your property. Ideally, snow removal will be complete by the time your storage facility is open, or in the case of a 24-hour storage facility, by the start of the business day.
What is your rate? Compare rates between multiple companies and get everything in writing so that you can lock in the best rate for the entire season.
If you live in a place where it rarely snows, there’s no need to contract an expert, but you should have some basic snow removal supplies on-site just in case. Have shovels, winter parkas and salt on hand.
Those trees near your storage facility look peaceful in the summer, but come winter when their branches are laden with snow and ice, they could be deadly. Trim branches (or hire a professional to do the task) of any trees that could potentially fall on storage units, buildings or customers at your storage facility this winter.
If you’re the kind of self storage operator who cares about curb appeal, take the time to prepare your outdoor flowers and plants for winter. Plant beds can often be insulated by fallen leaves, so if you can collect these nearby (or from your lawn at home), a heavy layer on top of flowers can do wonders. If you don’t have a green thumb, contact a landscaper to help winterize your flowers and plants.
Seal gaps with caulk or hire a professional to keep things sealed up tight. This is also a great time to make sure your climate-controlled storage units are in working order, as these will be your money-makers during the winter season.
Winter brings with it the holiday season. There’s no better time to show your customers and your co workers some extra warmth—both literally and figuratively. Have hot coffee, tea and cocoa available in the office.Your storage facility may even want to get into the holiday spirit by giving back. You can collect warm coats and mittens for a coat drive, toys for less fortunate children or non-perishable items for a soup kitchen.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for a self storage operator when it comes to dealing with winter’s epic storms and chilly temperatures is the inability to predict just when that sub-zero night will happen or whether those clouds will leave an inch of snow or a foot.
Whether your self storage operation is business as usual this winter or is hit with some unexpected challenges, it’s important to communicate with your tenants in order to ensure that they remain happy and continue to rent from you.
Communicate winter specific information including snow removal plans, winter hours, holiday hours along with winter storage tips and details about climate control and self storage insurance. You can do this by email, social media or even through flyers around your storage facility. Communicating through as many channels as possible and providing the occasional reminder (ex. “Just a reminder that we’ll be closed on January 1st!”) will keep tenants in the know.
The sight of fresh snow is a beautiful thing, but for self storage operators, it also means additional work. Take the time to be properly prepared, and you won’t have to struggle through the winter season at all. In fact, you’ll be able to actually enjoy it.