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  • If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

    First time poster here...

    I'm about to break ground on a new facility (my first) and I would like to take advantage of the forum's collective knowledge in regards to lessons learned and experience.

    If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper, what would you have done differently at your facility? Also, what would be on your list of "gotta haves" and "like to haves" in regards to emerging technology, operational efficiency tools, new security features, etc.

    Thanks in advance for your feedback...

    Mark V

  • #2
    Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

    Gobs and gobs of cameras. Best security fence and gates you can buy. You going to run it as well as own it or hiring a manager? If hiring a manager, find a person with not only management background but sales background, also. Pay them what they are worth and be fair and they will take care of you. I am curious about why you didn't come to us sooner with questions? Since you are breaking ground it sounds like the design and size and amount of units has been decided. But then again, I could be wrong there. The easier it is for a tenant to pay the better chance you have of them paying on time. If large enough facility I know my customers really like the golf cart ride to go look at the new units they are thinking of renting.

    But I am also pretty lazy at times, too.
    Last edited by pacnwstorage; 29th January 2016, 04:50 PM.
    "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

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    • #3
      Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

      I'm planning to manage the business directly... but we will need some part time help and I'm all about paying for good employees. You definitely get what you pay for.

      As for the size and mix... I'm placing a great deal of faith in my feasibility study and the face-to-face conversations that I have had with the other facilities in the area. I've found that as long as you aren't a direct competitor, most people just want to be helpful and will tell you what's in high demand (if you listen...).

      Mark

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      • #4
        Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

        Individual Door alarms and cameras that cover the entire property, inside and out. I want to be able to watch the entire movement of someone from the time they enter until the time they exit (if necessary). And those door alarms are a great preventative measure.
        MamaDuke
        My circus...My monkeys...OH CRAP!!!

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        • #5
          Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

          Minimize eaves. I built with no eaves on any of my buildings, except for the one that faces the street and required a peaked roof for city design regulations. Guess which building gets hit by rookies in trucks?

          On my second floor hallways I have a hard surface for rolling carts and durability. I wish I had installed a drain system so I could lightly hose the floor and squeegee the water to a floor drain. Keeping those halls free of dust and dirt is a pain.

          LED lighting. I'm converting now as I lose the old fluorescent ballasts inside, and converting as the HPS lights outside die.

          I have a master clock that turns off all power to units about 30 minutes after closing time, and turns the power back on 30 minutes prior to dusk. Saves me quite a bit on replacing bulbs and electrical costs when the lights can only be left on for 5 hours or so each day, rather than 24/7.

          I don't recommend a dumpster. It will be constantly filled with people's stuff and you'll either have to live with that (and whatever illegal item they dump in there) or become the dumpster police. I have no provision for people to discard items other than the small trash can in the bathroom. They hauled it in, I'm not giving them the chance to not haul it out.

          Cameras are great, more as a deterrent than anything else. When people see your big screen display TV behind your counter with multiple camera views on them, they tend to realize they're being watched and this is not a place to screw around. I leave my office blinds open enough at night that people walking by can see the glow of the TV up on the wall if they choose to look in, then they can see the camera is watching them...

          Door alarms seem to be the state of the art. I've never caught a bad guy when the alarm has fired, it's always been a current customer that tailgated through the gate. I like it when they do that, the whole place goes crazy and I run down and act like I've caught El Chapo. People notice that, it makes them feel secure.

          Keypad controlled restrooms keep people honest too. Amazing what people to do to a restroom unless they know that you know they were the last ones in there.

          Hose bibs spaced throughout the property will be very helpful when you need to clean doors or wash driveways. If you can, put them in the driveway in a good sized christie box. This way they won't get sheared off by the poor drivers or otherwise used by people that shouldn't use them.
          In no way affiliated with Storman software.

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          • #6
            Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

            Great feedback Storman...

            For a new facility... LED lighting and occupancy sensors are a no-brainer and I plan on having both.

            I'm also considering the individual door alarms, but they are somewhat cost-prohibitive. We will definitely have cameras everywhere and I want to be able to see them remotely. I'm assuming that "cloud" storage is becoming the norm. What length of time should I plan for? I can see situations arising where a tenant that doesn't visit frequently discovers an issue and I need to go back 30-60-90 days to see who might have been involved. Does that sound reasonable?

            The keypad on the restroom is a great idea. I want to have a restroom that can be utilized after (office) hours to eliminate (minimize) the inevitable behind the building nature calls, but I can see that becoming a problem without some control.

            My initial site plan calls for a dumpster that's outside the fence, but adjacent to the office. I would be interested in feedback from others that have a similar layout.

            Mark

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            • #7
              Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

              Welcome to the Forum,
              Not to repeat what others have said, but #1, cameras. #2 secure restrooms. I agree with hose bibs throughout the facility also. Have better door locks and don't worry about the door alarms. Automatic Lights. They pass by the 'viewer' and the lights go on. Design any eaves to be higher than 14' and you won't have to worry about vehicles damaging them.

              Parking spaces inside the gate for the staff. aaaaHA They want to have their vehicle secure too!
              Make sure you have enough space to store your stock, office documents you have to keep and outdoor equipment area for the golf cart storage - with electricity to charge the cart overnight, as well as store your lawn mower , hoses, etc. You will need more room than you think.

              Is there something special about your storage? If not, why not? We have had many, many people ask for drive up a/c units. Sounds preposterous right? Not really. When the door goes up, the vent is shut off. When the door goes down, the vent is opened again. We have a large community with expensive antique vehicles. They want to store them, they can drive into the a/c units. Hey if they want to pay $200 and up to store their vehicle, let them!

              How about having RV parking? A Wine cellar? A LOADING DOCK for the large trucks if you are going with a multi-story building AND a freight elevator built larger than most.

              I know of one company who built a property on the Beach. But guess what won't fit in the elevators? - A Surf Board.

              LED Lighting throughout. Lights in units 10x15 and larger. No, the client isn't supposed to be there all day, but if they have to find something, it's easier if they have light to do it with. Have the lighting closer to the rear of the unit. This goes for A/C units and non a/c units.

              Build the units so they are easily adaptable. For instance. Build a 10x30 with a door on either end. That way, if you need more 10x15's, and the 10x30's are just not renting, you put a wall in the middle of the unit. Besides - if it were me, and I had to store in a 10x30, I certainly wouldn't be that happy about having to remove half of everything to get to that one item the movers insisted on putting on their truck and putting it in the back of the unit.

              Good Luck!
              Last edited by Tall Terri; 30th January 2016, 09:13 AM.
              Tall Terri

              The customer's fantasy doesn't always match with our reality! http://www.selfstoragetalk.com/core/...ilies/cool.png

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              • #8
                Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                You have had some great comments so far, but none mentioned the manager's apartment. Assuming that you plan to have live on sight managers, make the apartment large enough that they can be comfortable. Build it all on one level so they don't have to go up or down stairs just to cook or sleep. You could build it over a parking garage/storage units. The entrance should be to the street not inside the facility and particularly not through the office. The negative to a street entrance are tenant's beating on the door at 2 am because it's an emergency (they need something from their unit for an early start to their trip.) Our apartment entrance is through the office so we get updated on what is going on, anytime we pass through and can't help but wonder what's going on with people here or there. In other words, resident managers need a mental break from the job. If you could, put the apartment across the street, so no one will realize the managers live there.

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                • #9
                  Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                  Please, made each building with wide hallways and doorways. It will keep your building damage down. Keypad on bathroom, and it doesn't have to be 24 hours a day. Ours is only regular business hours, except for our few 24 hour tenants. (Site link knows).
                  An apple a day keeps ANYONE away if you throw it hard enough.

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                  • #10
                    Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                    It looks like the vast majority or size recommendations are adapting to the fact that furniture and other items nowadays are just larger. Lots of facilities we run are 20-30 years old and furniture and items were smaller then. We adapt.
                    "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

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                    • #11
                      Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                      Originally posted by Tall Terri View Post
                      Is there something special about your storage? If not, why not?
                      Thanks Tall Terri..!

                      Yes... I believe we have a plan to create a storage environment that doesn't exist in our market. We will have climate controlled storage... and it's in short supply in this area... as well as "covered" boat and RV storage which is also in high demand.

                      We expect our primary differentiator to be ourselves. I completely understand the value of a professional "Manager", but there's nothing like having your own skin in the game. The wife and I are looking forward to managing and marketing the facility ourselves (we've actually already started our marketing efforts and the feedback we've received is 100% positive).

                      We plan to build a "modern" facility that meets not only the needs of the traditional client (homeowners in transition, etc.), but also the "commercial" clients that are looking for a base of operations. we plan to include a 'business center" much like you would find in a hotel, where tenants can utilize WIFI, a conference table, computer, printer, coffee maker, SKYPE, etc.

                      We hope the boat/RV storage will pull in a more affluent clientele that is also looking for a place to store their other "toys", "excesses", and general "stuff". I'm also considering smaller locker type storage spaces with potentially higher security (has anyone else included safes in their units?) and wine storage is also a possibility.

                      Our feasibility study noted an "overwhelming lack of sophistication" among our local competitors. There are several "lock it and leave it" places in our area and a couple others that are near capacity and glad to be there (as in won't return a voice message). The only downside to that is that nobody is dynamically managing their pricing and the rates are low, but if they are full... what the heck. We plan to offer a "premium" product at a higher price point and I think the market will accept that.

                      Please keep the feedback coming...

                      Mark

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                      • #12
                        Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                        The one thing I miss the most is an outside water source, near the buildings, themselves.
                        Possible hot AND cold water!

                        Lugging around buckets of hot soapy water on the golf cart is NOT fun!!

                        Also make sure you will have access to a power source.
                        So that when needed you will have electricity!!

                        Are you getting a golf car?
                        They are neat, you park it outside at the start of your day, prospective client comes in and then you can give them the grand tour.
                        It is a nice feature as you drive them around and can show them what they will be doing, when they come to the property.
                        Don't put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

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                        • #13
                          Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                          Originally posted by lady5563 View Post
                          Are you getting a golf car?
                          Yep... we will have 5 acres, so a golf cart is on my "gotta have" list.

                          Mark

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                          • #14
                            Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                            Originally posted by markvaughan View Post
                            We will definitely have cameras everywhere and I want to be able to see them remotely. I'm assuming that "cloud" storage is becoming the norm. What length of time should I plan for? I can see situations arising where a tenant that doesn't visit frequently discovers an issue and I need to go back 30-60-90 days to see who might have been involved. Does that sound reasonable?
                            Cloud is not the norm for camera recording. Plan for on-site recording equipment (nvr or recording server), size will vary depending on number of cameras, resolution, frames/sec and length of recording retention. Cameras can be a whole new hobby if you want to be hands on, pay a company to do it all for you or something in between.

                            You can still access your cameras & recordings off-site with any current/modern offering. Just be careful with protecting your network while enabling remote connectivity (use vpn).

                            Hit me up if you want some links for camera forums to learn from.

                            Where are you building?

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                            • #15
                              Re: If you were starting over with a blank sheet of paper...

                              Originally posted by Stormin View Post
                              Cloud is not the norm for camera recording. Plan for on-site recording equipment (nvr or recording server), size will vary depending on number of cameras, resolution, frames/sec and length of recording retention. Cameras can be a whole new hobby if you want to be hands on, pay a company to do it all for you or something in between.

                              You can still access your cameras & recordings off-site with any current/modern offering. Just be careful with protecting your network while enabling remote connectivity (use vpn).

                              Hit me up if you want some links for camera forums to learn from.

                              Where are you building?
                              I'm building in Lenoir City, TN (just outside Knoxville).

                              As for the cameras... I'm kinda interested in learning more about how that might come together. It's probably something I could approach from a hands-on perspective, but I do need to learn more about the latest technology. I have a friend in the industry that I could leverage for guidance, but I would also like to check out the forums that you referenced.

                              Mark

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