Are You Doing Enough to Keep Your Facility Secure?

Jon Fesmire |

Security is one of the big selling points in self storage. Customers want to know that their belongings are safe and secure, and some are bound to want more information on your security system.

Security isn’t something you set up once and then ignore, hoping it will run itself. Keeping it running smoothly shouldn’t be a headache, but it does take effort.

The Aspects of Self Storage Security

There are seven main aspects of self storage security. These are the outer wall, the gate, the access system, a camera and video monitoring system, an alarm system, lighting, and personnel. Here’s a basic rundown of each.
  • Outer Wall - This is also referred to as the fence, but the barrier surrounding a self storage facility really should be a granite or concrete wall about eight feet high. A strong, high wall should be difficult to climb to discourage would-be thieves.

  • Gate - The gate should be tall, wide, and metal, and meant for cars to drive through. Some facilities have multiple gates, one or two for the entrance, and one for the exit.

  • Access System - With a facility’s access system, each tenant gets an access code. To get into the facility, they key it into an access pad at the gate and, sometimes, at the door to whatever building houses their storage unit. More advanced access systems exist, and you may want to consider key-card access for your tenants.

  • Camera and Video Monitoring - A security camera system should cover the outside areas and hallways of your entire facility. The camera feeds show on video monitors in the office so that employees can keep an eye on what’s happening around the premises.

  • Alarm System - A self storage facility alarm system should, at the very least, signal when someone breaks open the gate, or into one of the storage buildings or the office. Ideally, each unit should also have an individual alarm, so that if someone unauthorized accesses a unit, you’ll know exactly where they are.

  • Lighting - Bright, clear lighting is important for inner hallways and units, and for outdoor areas at night. Motion detection lighting is best, as lights will come on as needed. This will also save your facility money, since lights will be on only when needed.

  • Personnel - This can refer to resident managers and security guards. Having people on-site is a great deterrent and will make most potential thieves at least think twice about entering your facility uninvited.

With the above in place, you’ll be well on your way to having great security for your facility. However, there is more to consider.

Security Monitoring Companies

The electronic aspects of your security, meaning the access system, camera and video monitoring, and alarm system, can all be integrated, and monitored, by a third-party vendor. There are many such security monitoring companies, and they can help keep your facility safe, especially at night.

Contact various vendors and ask what systems they sell and what services they provide. Will they have someone dedicated to watching your camera system, or do they respond when an alarm goes off? How effective is their service? Also look up reviews to see if other facilities and companies are happy with them.

Check On Your Systems

Don’t wait for obvious problems with your cameras, lights, or other systems to check on them. Have a procedure in place to check all systems regularly.

Ask the vendors of the various parts of your security system for advice, or if they have guides, manuals, or training, and use it. They can tell you how often you should check your security. A security monitoring company should tell you if they see problems, but you should have personnel who can check the basics as well. You should also have a technical support system in place to help you if problems arise. This can include technicians who will come to your site, depending on the level of support you purchase.

Keeping Up With the Times

Technology advances these days at breakneck speed. The computer or tablet you bought a year ago may now be obsolete, and the same can go for some components of your self storage facility’s security. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep using what you have, but your camera, monitoring, and alarm systems may no longer be sold. It also doesn’t mean you need to replace them as soon as new models come out.

You do need to be aware of this trend, and to understand what it means for your facility. As effective as your security systems may be, eventually, the security companies you work with may no longer support it.

At that point, you can manage these systems on your own, or purchase new cameras, a new alarm system, and so on. You may be able to find local technicians, but overall it will be more difficult to keep the electronic and computerized aspects of your security maintained. Finally, all that hardware will come with associated software. Make sure you install all vendor recommended patches and updates. The integrity of your buildings, locks, and customer units isn’t the only thing that needs protected. Hackers can potentially access your computers via the Internet and shut off your physical security. Keep in mind that this rule about software updates goes for other software, too, from your operating system to your customer database. To sum up, once you have your security systems in place, give yourself a pat on the back, but make sure it stays in top shape. You’ll greatly lessen the chance of theft, plus you and your customers will feel more comfortable.