Advice to self storage operators on the COVID-19 Outbreak
Updated 18, March 2020
We are aware that various countries have different states of lock down and restrictions on mobility. The below advice is intended to be taken by operators depending on their local circumstances.
What you should be doing if the government has not yet entered a lock down phase
Practice safe hygiene:
- Regularly wipe down touched surfaces like keypads, door handles, trolley handles etc.
- Have hand sanitiser available for customers and staff, encourage its use
- Ensure your store is as clean as possible
Interactions with customers:
- Avoid shaking hands – use other gestures
- Wherever possible, keep customers distanced from staff
- If a customer needs to sign a contract or other paperwork, arrange for them to sit at the end of a desk away from staff and pass contracts/paperwork to them
- Avoid site tours where possible but if necessary, keep a distance of at least 2 metres
- Allow customers to complete paperwork online if possible
- Do not allow existing customers into reception unless absolutely necessary
What happens if your staff get sick?
- Any staff showing signs of a fever, cough or cold like symptoms should not be attending work and should be in self isolation
- Anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days. If they live with others, they should all stay at home for at least 14 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home
- After 14 days, anyone who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in the home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days.
- If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal. If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
Plan to manage your store remotely
- It is likely you will need to manage your store remotely either due to staff being ill or a lock down process being in place. If you have the ability to set up systems to control access/alarms or similar remotely, you should be doing this now as a matter of urgency.
- If you cannot manage your store remotely then you need to get a communication list for all customers and hold this off site, ideally at your home. If it is suddenly necessary to close the store, you can communicate this to all your customers. If any customers need urgent access you may have to attend the site to provide this
- You should also try and set up a system to monitor your CCTV and other security systems remotely. You need to know if a frustrated customer has broken into your store or criminals have taken advantage of the situation. If you cannot monitor your security remotely then it would be prudent to do regular security checks of the site
Procedures for lock down
If a lock down is enforced by the government which restricts the movement of people, it is important to remember the following.
- Self storage is a service, not a shop or retail outlet. In other countries this has meant that self storage stores have been able to remain open during initial lock down
- Staff may be able to still attend the store as it is a service provider but should avoid all contact less than 2 metres from any other staff member or customer
- We would recommend having a single member of staff or management in the office/reception to manage the store but not to have this space open to customers
- We would encourage members to provide access for customers to their units if possible and where this can be done while meeting isolation procedures
- If you do have to close your store you should have emergency contact information displayed at the store and on your website. You should also notify all your customers of the situation.
- Experience in other countries has shown customers will still need and try to gain access to their units during lock down, particularly businesses
Prepare for the resumption of business
It is highly likely that the general economic impact of this event will be severe. You are unlikely to have many move ins and move outs during the crisis while mobility is restricted. It is likely that once restrictions are lifted stores will see a run of move outs. This will be a result of the people that were due to move out during the period of restricted mobility, but also the customers that have re-evaluated their financial position as a result of the crisis.
You should consider your position as a business that supports many other local community businesses and personal individuals who will be struggling. Businesses in the hospitality and entertainment industries in particular often use self storage and will be severely impacted by this issue. If you do choose to offer relief to existing customers, ensure you document this clearly and there is a fixed period or amount of relief offered.