The self storage industry is in a better spot than other sectors such as brick and mortar retail or tourism, which have been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
As college students were forced to pack up their stuff and leave campuses at short notice, and many young people decided to return to their parents’ homes for the quarantine, a self storage unit became the best place to deposit their belongings. Moreover, millions of employees needed to create space for a home office, which also resulted in an increased demand for self storage.
Under such circumstances, it’s essential for self storage businesses to ensure safe, high-quality services and to demonstrate that they are dedicated to the community they serve. Here are some of the things self storage operators can do to help their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Ensuring that the facilities are safe and healthy for customers and staff
Self storage is an important service for millions of customers throughout the United States, but in order for operators to be able to keep facilities open under pandemic conditions, they need to ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Measures such as disinfecting all the surfaces and the equipment, plus training employees on how to reduce the risks of transmitting the virus, are mandatory.
Colin Treat, a representative of Doorage.com, an operator providing self storage units in the Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison areas, details how they are managing the current situation: “Given the evolving situation around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are taking active measures to ensure client and team safety. All facilities have been given specific instructions on reducing the transfer of the virus from surfaces.”
“All trucks and equipment are being sanitized multiple times every day. All warehouse and field team members have been given proper supplies such as sanitizing sprays, hand sanitizer, and gloves. All field employees have been given specific instructions to avoid transmission of COVID-19 including distancing, avoiding all physical contact, and self-reporting any health concerns,” added Doorage.com representative Colin Treat.
2. Supporting customers through discounts, waivers, and more
For many Americans, this situation is sensitive not only in terms of health, but also from a financial perspective. Tens of millions of people lost their jobs, and many others are worried about the future. Under these circumstances, gestures such as leniency about payments or postponing auctions go a long way to helping people out, and you might gain your customers’ loyalty in the long term.
Extra Space Storage, a nationwide operator providing self storage units in Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and 40 US states, announced on their website that they will be delaying any auctions and are encouraging stores to be lenient about late fees during this time.
College students needed self storage this spring more than ever. Due to safety measures being taken by most universities, many families have found themselves in difficult situations. Many students have been instructed to leave campus within a week, leaving them with a short and unexpected window in which to deal with all their stuff.
Making sure they had enough time to store their belongings but also offering discounts was how many self storage operators decided to help this category of customers. “We have expanded hours to 7:30 am until 8:30 pm CST. We have added an additional delivery and pickup window of 7 pm to 10 pm on top of our standard service windows. All student orders are going to be 10% off,” added Colin Treat from Doorage.
3. Promoting social distancing measures
Social distancing measures recommended by authorities are our main weapon against the coronavirus pandemic, and the public and all businesses, self storage included, need to follow them as closely as possible. Self storage operators must instruct their employees to report any health-related concerns and to stay home if they show any symptoms of respiratory disease. It’s equally important to let customers know they have to postpone any visits to a self storage facility if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or if they have any symptoms typical of it.
Other measures that can be taken during this period include installing kiosks that limit the need for customers and employees to interact, and providing face masks, gloves and disinfectants for both staff and visitors. In case direct communication with a customer at the facility is necessary, it should be done from a distance of at least 6 feet and from behind some type of acrylic sneeze guard.
4. Going online as much as possible
Facilitating online operations is another way that self storage operators can help their customers during the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of facilities already allow renting a self storage unit online and paying the monthly rate the same way. Self storage operators that don’t yet have a strong online presence could also dedicate some time and resources to improving this side of their business.
Being connected to customers’ and communities’ needs and taking steps to provide safe and uninterrupted services will help the self storage sector navigate the uncertain waters we’re dealing with successfully and emerge stronger from this crisis.