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Positive Impressions
The Importance Of Curb Appeal
By Jackie Belau

id you know that you only have seven seconds to make a first impression? Some suggest you have even less time. But subconsciously, your potential customers have already made their mind up about your facility before they even need storage. They have been driving by your property day in and day out, noticing your facility. When the time comes that they need storage, they either think, “There is that place on my way to work, but I would never rent there. It’s dirty and looks scary.” Or they think, “Oh! There is that place on my way to work; it looks safe and oh so convenient!” That means it is your job to make random drivers feel safe when they first see your facility, whether it is online or in person. How do you achieve this? Curb appeal! A facility that pays attention to curb appeal demonstrates a commitment to excellence and customer care, setting itself apart from competitors and potentially commanding higher rental rates. Whether your potential customer sees your facility first online or in person, you need to make it look its best for a fast “Yes!”

The first step is to improve your physical curb appeal, or how your facility looks from the street. Here are a few of the items that stand out and make a difference to your potential customers.

Clean Doors, Clean Floors

When customers are evaluating a property, they look at the general upkeep of the entire facility. “Clean doors, clean floors” is the mantra of most operators. What is important to a customer is that the facility is clean and well maintained. If a facility is run down and dirty, the customers do not feel safe renting and will move along to the next facility. Women make most of the decisions when it comes to storage, and one of the biggest considerations is safety. If you can’t keep up your facility, what makes your customers think you will take care of them and their belongings?

Doors are the icon of the storage industry. Some operators even use false doors on the exterior of the facility just to make clear that it is a storage facility. The public sees those doors and knows it’s self-storage, even if they have no prior experience with storage. It is imperative that you keep your doors looking top notch by keeping them clean and up to date.

Faded and chalky doors are common in the self-storage industry. The painted metal is sitting in the sun and elements day in and day out for 20, 30, 40 years. That paint is going to break down and get chalky. Do you know what that chalk is? Like dead paint, it is the topcoat from the original baked on paint that has broken down over time. Fortunately, the doors can be restored if necessary. Proper cleaning is imperative to the longevity of the doors. Think of cleaning and protecting the doors as asset preservation; doors are very expensive to replace. You want to keep that asset in service as long as possible, and you can do that with proper maintenance and occasional protection upkeep.

Flags And Signage

Flags are a staple marketing effort of most self-storage facilities; however, many are using them incorrectly. First, never put contact information on a flag. It cannot be read, especially by motorists driving by. The flag should have a very simple message, such as “Storage Here” or “We Sell Boxes.” Consider switching flags out monthly for an attention-grabbing change of scenery. Rotating the color of your flags will also bring attention to your facility.

Signage should be clearly legible from a distance; if lit, all lights should be working. You don’t want your prospects seeing SELF ___RAGE when it should be SELF STORAGE. Lights that are not well maintained make prospective customers wonder what else doesn’t work at the facility.


If your fences are falling over, have holes cut in them, or do not look secure, there is no way your tenants and prospective renters are going to think your facility is secure. Remember, security of their belongings is their No. 1 priority. All fence repairs should be taken care of immediately to reinforce the security of your property.


Well-maintained landscaping looks great, but unless maintained weekly, it can look delipidated and will take away from the clean look you are trying to achieve. Long grass and weeds, dead flowers, hedges that look like my kid’s bedhead—none of these are good looks and can happen all too fast with infrequent upkeep. Consider switching to drought-resistant landscaping: rocks, decomposed granite, succulents, or small shrubs. Not only will these types of landscaping look good with less work, but they are also cost savers in the long run. You can save money on weekly maintenance, watering, and overall upkeep.


The “broken window theory” could as easily be the “trash filled sidewalk theory,” but I guess it doesn’t have quite the ring to it. However, trash is a sneaky blight on your property that can quickly build up and become a problem. A candy wrapper here, a soda can there; before you know it, there are bags of fast food and old tires stacking up. The fact of the matter is: It’s your job to keep your property and its surroundings clean and free of trash, or people will start dumping. It doesn’t matter if the trash blows onto your property from the convenience store next door or is left by a tenant, it is your responsibility to clean it up. Keeping up on trash daily keeps your facility clean; it will also keep pests away, which will save you money on pest control as well.


Whether you have gravel or asphalt, a driveway should be easy to maneuver. All driveways should be free of potholes, puddles, and anything else that impedes access. Customers want to be able to easily drive any vehicle into the property to reach their belongings.

The biggest pet peeve of many in the storage industry is weeds in the driveways. Weeds point to ownership or management that do not care about the facility. It is simple to kill or pull weeds to keep your driveways looking fresh. A mixture of vinegar, dish soap, salt, and water will kill any weed in the driveway in just a few days. But your teams must keep this practice up to keep the driveways clean.

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Matching Physical To Digital Curb Appeal
Those are the most visible aspects of physical curb appeal. Now that your facility is looking its best, it’s time to show it off online!

Cohesive Branding

Cohesive Branding is a term used to describe the process of ensuring that your name, logos, colors, pictures, fonts, phone, and website formats are the same across all platforms. This includes your website, printed materials, social media, signage, online business profiles, etc. This continuity is important, as it breeds a sense of familiarity for your customers, which in turn builds trust. Trust in a storage relationship depends on stability, reliability, and security. When your property looks the same in person as it does online, that is the first step in building trust for your customers. This is one tip that helps you compete with the REITs; they are known for consistency, and you should be too. You don’t have to have a big name and shareholders to be consistently known as a familiar name in your area.


Once your facility is looking its best, it is time to get new photos to use in all your marketing avenues. This is a huge link to building trust with potential customers. For example, if you use a stock picture of a beautiful new facility on your website, but your facility looks nothing like that picture, you have already lost their trust. Not only will they wonder if they are at the right place, but they will also immediately question what other bait-and-switch tactics you have in store for them. Having up-to-date, beautiful pictures of your actual facility is very important for building that cohesive brand, which ties together the physical and digital curb appeal.

You should use these pictures to highlight all the features of your facility, especially the upgrades and basic security features that customers are seeking. Sometimes drone photography is helpful for this. With drone photography, you can show off your fully gated facility, the clean grounds, refreshed doors, camera systems, and any other areas that highlight security.

GBP And Online Profiles

While customers shopping for storage might eventually find your website, they are going to first find it via web search. Typically, they search for “self-storage near me,” which leads them to your Google Business Profile (GBP), then on to your website. Since your GBP is often the first thing they see, this is your first chance to capture their attention and start building trust. Be sure to claim the listing (not only on Google but Apple Maps, Yelp, and any other aggregator of storage listings), and start building your profiles. Many listings are free or low cost.

By prioritizing aesthetics, safety, and convenience, self-storage facilities can create a positive and lasting impression on customers.
Cohesive branding and pictures are the forefront of this profile. This is where they are going to start looking at those pictures, aerial photos, and digital tours. Remember that your new perfect pictures may not be the only ones listed. If current customers have issues, they may also post pictures, which is another reason to be vigilant about keeping a clean and well-maintained facility.

It is important to ensure that all sections have complete and up-to-date information. Have you changed your office hours? Make sure you update them on your online listings. Setting expectations and clearly communicating your offerings will help your customers know how and when they can rent a unit.

Responding To Online Reviews

The world that we live in today is vastly different from running a business a decade or more ago. Today’s consumers want to be heard and want their experiences validated. Oftentimes, this leads to them posting reviews online, which unfortunately they are more likely to do when they are upset rather than when they are happy with a service. It is important to be watchful of your online profiles and social media for negative reviews so you can respond in a positive manner.

When you receive a negative review online, you do not necessarily want to refute the facts in a public forum; but you do want to respond to each customer with contact information to resolve a problem. This shows other viewers of the review that you care and want to correct any issues.

Alternatively, while it seems redundant to respond to positive reviews, your engagement with your customers helps not only your public persona but also your SEO (search engine optimization). Search engines want to see you engaging with others in a positive light and will reward that engagement with higher search engine rankings.

Tying It All Together
Curb appeal is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Regular maintenance, cleaning, and updates are necessary to sustain the positive impact of curb appeal on customer perceptions and rentals. By continually investing in curb appeal, self-storage facility owners can create a welcoming environment that fosters customer loyalty and encourages positive word-of-mouth referrals.

In conclusion, curb appeal in self-storage is an essential aspect of facility management that can greatly influence customer choices and overall business success. By prioritizing aesthetics, safety, and convenience, self-storage facilities can create a positive and lasting impression on customers. In turn, this can lead to higher occupancy rates, increased revenue, and a stronger reputation in the market. As the self-storage industry continues to evolve, those facilities that recognize the importance of curb appeal and consistently strive to enhance it will be best positioned to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Jackie Belau is the controller of Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based Everbrite Coatings, Inc.