Should You Accept Packages for Commercial Self Storage Tenants?

Jon Fesmire |

Any business that keeps stock needs a place to store it. They may sell books, clothing, electronics, medications, or any number of things. Plus, these days, many individuals run such businesses online, so the number of sellers has grown. Often, companies both large and small turn to self storage as a place to keep their inventory.

As a self storage operator, you will have commercial tenants. What you need to decide is how you will serve their needs. The main service that commercial tenants will want is to be able to have shipments for them received by the facility.

The Conundrum

Should you accept packages for commercial tenants, or not? This can be a tough question, and there is no standard policy across the industry. Some facilities make it clear they won’t accept packages, while others do, but have a different contract and terms for business customers.

The Argument Against

Let’s start with why you might decide not to accept packages. This ultimately is an issue of liability. If the delivery is of something that is prohibited in a storage unit, and you sign for it, you could be on the hook for any damage caused by it. Also, if you sign and there are packages missing, the tenant could potentially hold you responsible.

You would also need a copy of the key, or to set up a complicated system to allow delivery truck drivers access. Many managers don’t want a copy of the tenant’s key because of—you guessed it—liability issues. If something is missing from the unit, or something is damaged, blame might fall on you.

If you want to avoid any possible legal entanglements from allowing package delivery to units, you may not want to allow it.

The Argument For

If you don’t allow deliveries for commercial tenants, the facility down the street might, and may make a lot of money offering this service.

As for the legal concerns, you can greatly lower your risk, if not negate it, by specifying the right things in the business customer contract.

The contract should specify that the facility gets a key to the unit, but that your liability is limited. Also, you may want it to say that you will only open the unit for the delivery truck drivers and that they will enter the unit, and that they will lock it when finished.

The contract should also say that you aren’t liable for inaccuracies in the deliveries or missing stock. All you need to do is record that the delivery was received.

Also, explicitly state in the contract that the tenant is liable for anything in the deliveries, even if you sign for it. If they somehow receive illegal goods or goods that break the rules, they are on the hook for it, not you or the facility.

You can then charge more to business customers. Accepting a delivery will take a few minutes out of your day, but you can charge enough to make up for it and increase your revenue.

Alternatives

If you don’t want to accept packages for everyone, consider allowing it, but only for big, trusted companies. This might be a local drug store chair, a clothing store, an electronics store, or any other type of popular shop. Have a few large, climate controlled units set aside specifically for these sorts of businesses. Accept deliveries for them only.

Let other interested tenants know that your other lockers are for private use. They may keep stock for their businesses in them, but you won’t accept deliveries for them.

If scheduling employees so that they can accept deliveries is a problem, you can limit the time your facility accepts deliveries. It will be up to the business tenants to let delivery companies like FedEx and UPS know the delivery hours.

You can also limit which companies can deliver. Some facilities take FedEx and UPS only. If you want to do it that way, let your potential business tenants know that if they want to get USPS packages, you recommend getting a PO box at the post office.

As you can see, there are quite a few possibilities for how you can handle business customers and taking deliveries. Do what you feel comfortable with, and what works best for you and your facility.