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Keeping Your RV and Boat Storage Facility in Shipshape

Tips for refreshing and maintaining your Class A site

While the RV and boat storage industry is still in its infancy, and many developers languish in the Field of Dreams mentality of “if you build it, they will come,” those with a sharper vision for the future know that offering the highest level of service is what attracts savvy tenants. And keeps them. 

Class A facilities ensure tenants’ high-priced toys are safe and sound, and they will always be offered the greatest levels of convenience to hit the road quickly on their next adventure. RV and boat owners value these assurances above all else and will open their wallets to pay higher rental rates to get them. But operators who raise the bar to meet these expectations must maintain their site vigilantly to ensure they keep their high-paying tenants happy. 

Pride of ownership goes both ways in Class A facilities. Developers strive to create the “best ever” RV and boat storage experience to draw topnotch tenants. And tenants carry immense pride for their outdoor-rec toys, so of course they want to give them the best-of-the-best home. So how do you maintain your site to continue offering a luxury storage experience? 

First and Lasting Impressions Count

“I try to inspect the facility as often as I can to make sure it is pristine in its appearance,” says Greg Crews, who recently completed the development of a hybrid facility in an affluent area of Lexington, Kent. “People with valuable contents want a top-notch facility to store their belongings, especially if they are paying a premium price” 

Keeping Your RV and Boat Storage Facility in Shipshape
Brannon Crossing Self Storage is inspected regularly by owner Greg Crews to maintain its pristine appearance.

Brannon Crossing Self Storage is Crews’ second facility. He learned while operating his first site that traditional storage is a lot more work for less pay, so his new site has a much higher ratio of RV and boat storage units than regular self-storage. 

“The biggest difference between RV and traditional storage is the clientele,” he says. “I now have one-fifth of the units at this new facility, but I generate twice the income with no hassle collecting rent. Plus, I never have to evict customers. Now that I know this, I would never do it any other way.”

Finally, he adds, “Facilities like this require a minimum of maintenance. Security is a top concern, and we place a premium on that.” In addition, he says customer service is the No. 1 most important characteristic of operating an RV and boat facility. “The tenants’ needs have to be addressed, and they need to feel that if there is an issue, you will be there to take care of it.”

Steve Lucas of The Storage Group echoes that sentiment. “Proper maintenance enhances the overall customer experience, instilling confidence that their cherished vehicles are in a safe, well-maintained environment,” he says. “By prioritizing maintenance, storage facilities can attract and retain customers as well as extend the longevity of their stored boats and RVs.”

Specific Areas of Concern

“Effective maintenance ensures storage areas remain secure and well preserved, safeguarding valuable assets from potential damage caused by weather, pests and wear over time,” continues Lucas. 

Core to keeping facilities in impeccable condition is for owner-operators and managers to walk the property frequently to evaluate urgent needs as well as identify what will need addressing in the near future, says Lucas. “Regular inspections and upkeep of parking surfaces, storage bays and access points are vital to prevent deterioration and accidents.”

Terry Campbell of Copper Storage Management reiterates that safety and security upkeep can make or break tenants’ confidence in an RV and boat storage facility. “A well-lit, fully fenced facility with electronic access is imperative, so regular night audits to ensure lights are on is key,” he says. “And recorded video surveillance is a huge plus for security, so make sure it’s running properly.

“While these facilities don’t require a lot in regards to maintenance and upkeep, well-designated, striped and labeled spots are important,” adds Campbell. “If you have a gravel lot, ensuring it is free of weeds is an easy recurring upkeep item, as is maintenance of growth along fence lines.”

In addition to keeping landscaping up to snuff, Mark Sherman of S3 Partners reminds owner-operators that they need to sustain standards of care throughout their facilities, regardless of size or location. 

“Machinery like rolling doors, access gates and HVAC systems will all eventually need service or replacement,” he states. “Building materials like flooring, pavement and paint will need regular upkeep or will look neglected over time. Roofing will need to be inspected regularly, and any leaks should be repaired swiftly.” 

What About Carports and Solar Canopies?

In the right environment, carports are a great way to cut costs on RV and boat storage development and regular maintenance. Better still, many developers are discovering thatKeeping Your RV and Boat Storage Facility in Shipshape solar canopies are the biggest cost-cutter of all–firstly because government incentives make it possible for solar canopies to practically pay for themselves and, secondly, because they require minimum maintenance, especially compared to fully enclosed units.

Nobody knows this better than Bob Hayworth of Baja Construction, which has been manufacturing carports for more than 40 years and was one of the first companies in the nation to use solar panels as the actual rooftops for carports. Hayworth was so mesmerized by the RV and boat storage industry that he finally took the plunge with operating a facility himself with the development of Oakley Executive RV and Boat Storage in California in 2013, in which he, of course, incorporated his trademarked solar canopies.

Oakley has expanded through multiple phases, struggling to keep up with demand, but Hayworth learned by his own doing “that this is the best business I’ve ever been in.” Moreover, the solar energy generated by Oakley powers nearly 800 homes every month, making them an asset for storage owners, the environment and the local community.

Plus, says Hayworth, “these carports are the most maintenance-free product you can have.” Baja’s solar canopies are pre-galvanized, “so you never have to paint them. You just wash them once a year, replace the inverters every 10 years and slurry seal the asphalt every five years. That’s it.” 

Is It Time for Higher Maintenance Measures? 

Perhaps you’ve been operating a facility for nearly 10 years and, even though you’ve been meticulous about maintenance, wear and tear overtime has diminished the property’s overall appearance and functionality. If you let it go for too long, the consequences to the business can be devastating,

“What happens when a facility falls into disarray and then a REIT pops up on the corner with a beautiful, shiny storage facility?” asks Troy Bix, president of the R3 [Restore, Rebuild, Replace] Division at Janus International. “You will probably see tenants leave because they’ll pay the extra $10 to $30 more per month for the safety, security and functionality of the new site. And once they’re gone, they aren’t coming back!”

The R3 program is designed to help owners evaluate their sites with a critical eye for detail, pinpointing areas of concern that need an upgrade. The primary goal is to make facilities as safe as possible–to attract and keep tenants–while avoiding liability issues in the future. 

As Bix says, “Just remember, it’s the owner’s fiduciary and ethical duty to create a safe rental experience for their tenants.”

 

SIDEBAR 1

Toy Storage Maintenance Checklist 

Toy Storage Maintenance Checklist

In addition, Terry Anderson of Tenant Property Protection recommends every property owner to conduct regular risk assessments and review their disaster planning programs biannually to properly manage facilities. “This will not only help in the maintenance and upkeep of a site, but also give all team members a tremendous step up in maintaining the highly valued asset they oversee.” 

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