Make Your Job Easier By Giving Your Tenants These 5 Self Storage Tips

Krista Diamond |

It goes without saying that when you do your job right as a self storage operator, your tenants have a more positive experience. But what about the effect that your tenants have on your experience as an employee? You already know how much easier your job can be when tenants pay their rent on time and follow lease terms—and how much harder it is when tenants don’t follow the rules—but did you know that there are a few key tips you can communicate to get more of those perfect tenants and fewer of the challenging customers?

Consider these five self storage tips your roadmap to doing two things at once: giving your tenants better service and making your job easier.

1. Double-Check Your Homeowners Insurance

The concept of self storage insurance confuses many consumers. While you as a self storage operator might see it as a necessary—and affordable—added expense, your customers are already dealing with paying for other types of insurance like auto insurance, renters insurance, health insurance and homeowners insurance. It should come as no surprise when they don’t jump at the chance to pay for self storage insurance.

Be aware of this, and encourage them to double-check their homeowners insurance. This includes personal property coverage, which doesn’t just protect items inside the home, it protects many of those same items outside of the home. One caveat: Personal property coverage might not cover every item and every risk. Tell your tenants to find out how much personal property insurance coverage they have and whether or not it restricts any items or any specific scenarios. Point them in the direction of this article if they’re confused.

Don’t be too pushy. Let tenants know that they should be aware of all of their options. Giving them this information along with the option of self storage insurance will show them that you care and prevent them from blaming you in the unlikely event that their items are damaged or stolen.

2. Options for Getting Rid of Unwanted Items

Is there anything more annoying than a tenant leaving a bunch of junk behind after moving out? Most tenants aren’t doing this because they’re rude; they’re doing it because they don’t know that they have other options.

Make a list of local charities that accept donations along with what they accept, whether or not they offer pick-up, where they’re located and when they’re open. You may consider posting this list on your website or having printouts of it that you hand to tenants when they sign their leases. You can also consider reaching out to those charities yourself to see if your storage facility might be able to become a collection point.

You should also have recycling bins available along with posted information on what items are recyclable. This will cut back on tenants leaving used moving supplies, like boxes, behind for you to clean up. Keep the recycling bin in a place where you can see it in order to ensure that tenants aren’t putting trash in it.

Lastly, be aware of facilities and options that accept e-waste and other hard to recycle items. Communicate this information to your tenants.

3. How to Organize Items Inside the Storage Unit

Organizing items inside a storage unit goes beyond labelling boxes. Tenants can organize items to keep valuables safe from theft, to prevent damage to fragile items and to make those quick “I’ve just gotta grab one thing” trips to the storage unit even easier.

Tell your tenants that if they’re concerned about safeguarding items from theft, they should place valuables in the back of the unit in nondescript boxes. This is also an opportunity to remind tenants of your facility’s security features.

To prevent damage, tenants should avoid placing delicate items at the bottom of the unit where they might be crushed under the weight of other boxes or anything that could fall. To help with this, point them in the direction of packing materials if you have a retail component to your self storage business. Give them examples of items that might require materials like foam cushion and bubble wrap. You can also make them aware of DIY options, like wrapping items in blankets or placing glasses inside thick—and hopefully clean—socks.

To make quick trips quicker, tell them to create a walkway inside the storage unit. You can also encourage them to use clear, plastic containers for any belongings that they know they’ll need to access right away or on a regular basis. As an added measure, a self storage inventory never hurts.

4. Which Situations Call for Climate Control

Climate controlled storage can be a bit of a controversial topic. Some people think it’s absolutely essential while others see it as a total waste of money. Your tenants will likely fall into one of the two categories. Unfortunately, not all people who opt for climate control need it and not all people who forgo it are happy with the condition of their stuff at the end of their lease.

Without being overly nosy, get a feel for what a tenant might be storing. Let them know that if they’re storing art, photos, electronics, wine, leather, antiques or anything that’s irreplaceable (like a family heirloom) climate control is a wise investment. You should also get a feel for how long the tenant is planning on using the storage unit. Long term tenants, especially those who won’t be visiting the storage facility on a regular basis, may also want to have climate control.

Take into account the effect that your region’s climate has on self storage (Think Texas humidity versus Colorado’s cold, dry winters). Don’t assume that your tenants are aware of this.

5. How to Communicate With You

If every self storage operator had a dollar for each tenant misunderstanding that could have been avoided with the right communication...well...there would be a lot of wealthy, retired self storage operators.

Encourage tenants to communicate their concerns with you, but don’t stop there. Tell them how to do that. For starters, be sure that tenants know facility hours so that they can talk to you in person. Make this information known on leases, on the gate of your facility, on your website and on social media. If your hours are incorrect on Google or Yelp, submit a request to correct this information. If you run a 24 hour facility, make sure tenants know when staff assistance is available.

If you live on site, let tenants know the best way to contact you. For example, you might want to let them know that they can reach you by phone rather than by knocking on your door as this is understandably invasive. This will make the work/life balance aspect of your role as an on-site manager easier.

Encourage tenants to contact you about billing issues, even regarding their inability to pay rent. This will help you avoid having to deal with the time-consuming lien and auction process.

Let tenants know that they are welcome to stop by your office if they have questions—even questions that seem silly.

Make tenants aware of all of the different ways that they can communicate with you, including over the phone, via email, on social media and of course, the old fashioned way: in person.