April 23, 2019 • Steve Hajewski
One of the tasks I handle at Trachte is helping our customers to be seen on search engines. Making sure your property shows up on Google is an important step in opening a self-storage business. Recently, I had an interesting call from a storage owner – this is about a five year old site… one where getting him onto the Google map was a little harder than usual since his street also had to be added to the map.
“I need you to delete a review on my listing. Someone didn’t pay me and then wrote bad things” he told me. When I explained that isn’t how online reviews work, he said just take the listing down then. “I don’t need Google anyway, I’m full.”
After explaining that he is probably full because of Google, I talked him down off that ledge. Now, about that bad review…. It turned out that a customer had rodent damage, so he moved out and stiffed the operator on the last month or two of rent.
“There are two types of self-storage properties” I explained to him, “there are facilities with pest prevention in place, and those with pests. Which are you?” The second one, he begrudgingly acknowledged.
He also confided that he hadn’t raised rent. Ever. Which is a topic for an entire column on its own.
I usually don’t talk much about the negative aspects of self-storage, but this one is an important one that is a great reminder of two important proactive activities that every owner or manager should engage in.
My advice to the storage owner was this: Raise your rates a little (no one is going to begrudge you for keeping up with your increasing costs of operation, especially if you use some of it to add pest control to the property), hire a pest control company, and make a point of inviting satisfied clients to write a review upon move out.
Some operators fear that when storage renters see mouse traps or bait stations, they will assume that it means that there is a problem. However my experience has been exactly the opposite. The traps on the site serve to start a conversation, and pest control becomes another way to differentiate me from my competitors.
PS: For those interested, here’s a link to the “Tin Cat” traps that seems to work well. Don’t forget the glue boards. The boards also act as bait, but you can add peanut butter if you want to sweeten the deal. Try to put them near edges/corners of the buildings where mice could travel, and where they will be sheltered from rain. You’ll need to change the boards if they get wet often. These can also be placed in halls or empty units, but be sure to check them frequently as they can start to smell pretty awful if they are catching critters.