You can learn a lot about self storage if you ask the experts. The problem is, most of us never do. Instead, we rent storage units, put our stuff inside of them, lock the doors and hope for the best. While renting a storage unit is a relatively simple concept, there are a few tricks to getting the most out of your self storage experience. Consider the following a look inside the private thoughts of your storage facility manager’s head. These are the things he really, really wishes you knew.
1. Giving your storage facility the right contact information is insanely important.
You might not put much thought into filling out paperwork when renting a storage unit. You put down your current address even though you’re going to be moving next week. You forget to put in the area code on your phone number. You don’t put down your parents’ contact information even though you’re going to be studying abroad next semester.
And then it happens.
Whatever it is, it’s not good. Maybe you left your storage unit unlocked. Maybe there was a fire or a flood. Perhaps you forgot to pay your rent.
The bottom line is, if you don’t put down accurate contact information, the storage facility can’t communicate important information with you. Take the extra five seconds to make sure your phone number is legible when you write it down and you’ll always be in the loop.
2. Your storage facility doesn’t want to auction off your stuff.
If you spend enough time reading reviews of storage facilities while watching Storage Wars (What? That’s not how you spend Friday night?) you’ll come across the following conspiracy theory: Storage facilities want you to get behind on your rent so that they can auction off your stuff and make a killing.
This is not true.
The truth is, hosting storage auctions costs the storage facility time and manpower and is almost never profitable. They’re forced to navigate an often confusing legal process while taking staff away from their actual duties. The hope is that the auctioned off storage unit will make up the unpaid rent, but this doesn’t happen every time and even if it did, it probably still wouldn’t be worth the headache.
In other words, get that image of vulture-like storage facilities looking to sell your stuff out of your head and go forth and store in peace.
3. Don’t use the storage facility’s dumpsters.
Is your storage unit filled with junk? If so, cleaning it out probably involves a dumpster rather than a moving truck. And hey, look, there’s a dumpster right on property!
It’s tempting to toss your old mattress and boxes of miscellaneous stuff into the dumpster by your storage unit, but most facilities would prefer you didn’t do this. In fact, many facilities will even lock the dumpster to make this clear. If you happen to be storing at a facility with an unlocked dumpster, don’t take this as a go-ahead to throw whatever you want in there. Ask first, especially if you’re throwing away something really big.
4. You really don’t need 24 hour access to your storage unit.
24 hour access is a magical phrase when it’s applied to just about anything. 24 hour diner? Waffles at midnight. 24 hour gym? Your choice of elliptical machines at 2am. In a world where 24 hour access to everything seems necessary, it stands to reason that 24 hour access to a storage facility should come standard.
Start looking for a storage unit that you can access at any hour of the day, however, and you’ll find out pretty quickly that they’re actually quite hard to come by. Offering 24 hour access requires the facility to schedule staff around the clock and can often open them up to additional liability. From the customer standpoint, 24 hour access to a storage unit usually costs more and isn’t that necessary in the first place. Unless you’re a vampire, you don’t need it.
5. Self storage insurance isn’t a scam.
When you’ve already given someone your business, it’s natural to feel suspicious if they start trying to sell you additional things. If you’ve ever gotten sucked into a pyramid scheme or shelled out way too much money for a supposedly ultra premium oil change, your scam-radar is probably always on.
But when it comes to self storage insurance, you should know that the facility isn’t trying to con you out of more money.
If you have homeowners insurance, your personal property coverage will extend to some, but likely not all of your belongings when they’re in a storage unit. That’s where self storage insurance comes in. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for about $20 a month, it can be an affordable extra layer of protection for your valuable items.
6. It’s okay to ask questions.
Seriously, there are no dumb questions. Storage facility managers aren’t just in the business of renting out units; they’re in the business of customer service. If you have a question about your lease, about a late payment or even about how to store an unusual item, don’t be shy.
Your storage facility can provide you with the resources you need to recycle that couch, advice on storing that wedding dress and more information about self storage than you could ever care to know. They’re the self storage experts, after all, and if you take the time to ask them questions, you’ll be one too.