Deferred Maintenance: A Tale of Two Facilities
Neglected repairs and maintenance can quickly snowball. And not the fun kind of snowball.
A few weeks ago, I was on assignment inspecting a few competitor facilities for a client. At one point, I visited two small competitor facilities that were across the street from each other.
On paper, the two facilities were very similar. Both facilities were built in the early 2000s, both were single-level, non-climate controlled, and steel-framed. Both facilities lacked fencing, pavement, and management offices.
However, when I arrived, the two facilities could not have been more different.
Facility A showed extremely well. The doors were freshly painted, and the buildings were in great shape. The landscaping was well maintained, and weeds were non-existent. It felt a lot newer than it actually was. When I called their number, someone answered right away and told me they only had one unit left at a rate far exceeding the rest of the market. I was very impressed.
And then I drove across the street…
Facility B was rough. Pulling into the site, I had to focus on avoiding muddy runoff and large dips in the driveway. Weeds and old leaves ran rampant throughout the site. The units looked dated, like they hadn’t been painted in a long time. The units had taken a lot of hits over the years, with plenty of dents, holes, and rust in the steel.
As I drove around, I noticed that only about 40-50% of the units had locks on them, suggesting very low occupancy. When I called the number posted on the road signage, no one answered. I left a voicemail, and still, to this day, have not received a call back.
Here you had two facilities in the same location, same climate, same clientele, same age, same size, same almost everything. The only difference is that one facility had been maintained, and the other hadn’t.
If you’re taking the time to read this page, you probably understand the importance of maintenance. Good maintenance leads to better customer satisfaction, which leads to higher occupancy, which leads to higher rental rates, which leads to more money in your pocket.
On the flip side, neglecting maintenance—even the smallest of tasks—snowballs over time, quickly leading to a “Facility B” situation.
It’s easy to see how maintenance can be neglected. It can be expensive and can take significant time to properly maintain a property. The temptation to save a couple bucks by ignoring non-critical issues is strong. However, the costs of notmaintaining a facility are far greater.
For one, small issues can quickly become large issues. If a tenant accidentally dings one of your buildings, it might create a small eyesore, but one you can live with. After all, it hasn’t affected your rentable square feet. However, that ding can eventually rust and erode the steel, creating much larger issues.
Further, what message does that ding send to your other current and prospective tenants?
One ding can quickly lead to many dings. Through the eyes of a tenant, if the owner doesn’t care about their facility getting damaged, why should they treat your facility with respect?
To a security-conscious prospective tenant, a neglected maintenance item can lead to bigger questions: What else is the owner refusing to fix? Security cameras? Keypads? Gates? How can I know my items will be safe if the owner isn’t willing to spend the money/time on simple repairs?
Keep this perspective as you evaluate your facility maintenance practices.