3.5 Cheap Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal

May 22, 2024

Man pressure washing a storage facility
6 min

If you won the lottery, making your facility look nice would be easy.  

You wouldn’t do it, of course, you’d be busy choosing your favorite island to buy, but it would be easy!

But how can you improve your facility without an unlimited budget? We talked to Jane Sauls of Sauls Storage Group, and she gave us a few ways to make your facility look nicer that won’t eat up your entire budget.

Business owners think in terms of tradeoffs. If I spend $2,000 on a facility upgrade, is that going to bring in 4 new rentals that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise?

And what’s the opportunity cost of that $2,000? If I put that money into a Google Ads campaign, will that get those 4 new rentals faster or cheaper? Might that $2,000 get me 5 new rentals instead?

When we start talking about curb appeal, though, these tradeoffs become impossible to measure.

There is a point at which you are going to lose renters if your facility looks messy, dirty, or run-down. The problem is, you won’t necessarily realize that you’ve lost those renters.

They might drive by, see the weeds growing along the fence, and mentally cross you off their list of potential storage options. Maybe they come onto the lot but turn around without ever coming in the door. Or check out your website and decide to keep shopping because they don’t like what they see.

Bad curb appeal can make you lose renters without ever noticing2

But it’s also possible to spend way too much on dressing up your facility! Even if you paint a fresco on the ceiling a la Michaelangelo, you can’t create rentals out of nothing.

So, with all that in mind, self storage operators should start by investing in the cheapest upgrades that make the biggest differences.

Buy Bollard Covers

Bollards - those steel bumpers that keep people from driving a moving truck into your front office - are expensive and hard to repair. After the fourth time that one old guy had parked his pickup on them, they started to look a little rough!

Luckily, you don’t have to replace each bollard that gets dented.

Bollard covers are relatively inexpensive and can restore that like-new look to your parking lot.

Prices range from $40 with uline to decorative options that can be over $100 each. The size of your bollards, the features you choose, and the quantity you buy will impact the price as well.

When deciding how much to invest in bollard covers, consider:

  • How nice the rest of your facility looks
  • What your customers expect
  • How big your budget is (obviously)
  • How willing you are to buy at this price again

That last one is important because someone is going to be hitting these bollard covers in the future, too. You need to be able to replace them and at least have them look similar, if not identical.

Bollard covers aren’t going to work well if there’s serious damage to the steel because they won’t fit over the top of a significantly bent bollard. 

If your bollards are just dinged and scratched, though, bollard covers will give your facility a nice new bit of frontage for a relatively low cost.

Register: Gabfocus Self Storage Workshops

Replace Yellow Lights with LEDs

Those old incandescent lights don’t do anyone any favors. 

Professional photographers all use LED lights to take photos for a reason - they just look better! If your facility still has yellowing incandescent lights, upgrading to LED bulbs can massively improve the way it looks and feels.

Bright lighting also makes the facility feel safer, especially at night. Brighter, whiter LEDs will help your floor shine brightly (as long as it’s clean).

In fact, LED lighting will make every other curb appeal step you take more effective. If you clean your facility well, bright lighting shows it off, whereas older incandescent lights will wash it out and make it look drab, even if you’ve just cleaned everything.

LED lights can also save you a lot of money over the lifespan of the bulbs. They use about 75% less energy than equivalent incandescent lighting.

LED lights use 75% less energy!

Best of all, you don’t have to do any expensive retrofitting - LED lights are just bulbs. They work in the same fixtures you’ve already got if you can find the right size and shape.

This is a quick and easy upgrade that just takes a bit of leg work to bring results.

Stay on top of the self storage industry with our monthly virtual workshops!

Have Your Facility Pressure Washed

This is another one that requires only a little bit of effort - but it could be more expensive than replacing your bulbs.

Pressure washing is a method of using highly pressurized water to scour dirt and grime off of your building or pavement. If your facility is showing signs of age (discoloration), pressure washing might be able to make that pavement or siding look like new again.

You can expect to pay somewhere around $0.50 per square foot being pressure washed. For large facilities, this can get expensive! But you can also negotiate a better rate for a bigger job, so you may be able to get professional pressure washing for a reasonable price.

This facility facelift is a simple way to improve the overall feel of your facility - and after you try it once, you can decide whether or not to make pressure washing a regular occurrence!

Invest in Some Elbow Grease

The cheapest way to improve your curb appeal is to level up your cleaning

A clean, neat facility is appealing no matter how fancy your business is. Even if you focus on affordable, simple storage, a clean facility is a must.

Here are three things to make sure you hit -

  • Mow and Weed-Eat

Throughout spring, summer, and into fall, you’ll need to have someone keep the grass and weeds in check. Unless you really enjoy taking care of it yourself, it may be most efficient to hire a local landscaper.

You might even be able to barter with a storage unit or two! Landscapers and contractors need lots of space for equipment unless they want everything to live in their garage.

  • Clean the Bathrooms

This is no one’s favorite job, but it has to be done. A dirty bathroom will communicate to your tenant (or potential tenant) that you don’t care too much about your property.

On the other hand, when you take care of the little things, the customer knows to trust you with the big things. You never know whether or not your customers will stop in to use the restroom, but you should make sure it’s clean when they do.

  • Clean the Corners

Clean corners show which business is really dedicated to their curb appeal. Sweeping down the hallways is the baseline. Getting into the hard to reach places shows that you’re willing to put the effort in.

Like with all of these aspects of curb appeal, managing the tiniest details shows the customer that you can be trusted with their business.

Stay on top of the self storage industry with our monthly virtual workshops!

Now, none of these are going to be dealbreakers. A few dandelions aren’t going to send customers away, and fresh bollard covers will not immediately land you six new tenants.

We’re playing around on the margins and over long timelines. If you improve the overall curb appeal of your facility by 10%, you might see five or six more rentals that year than you did before - well worth the expenditures we’ve talked about here!

That also depends on the current state of your facility. If it’s in rough shape, a bit of renovation could see drastic improvements! If your facility already passes the eye test, you may need to increase rates to see an uptick in revenue.

Every potential tenant that steps on your property will judge it for curb appeal, whether they think of it in those terms or not. 

That first impression needs to be good – you won’t be getting a second one.

Check out some of these other helpful blogs:

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

Get more advice from the experts -

Sign up for our monthly virtual workshops here!

Gabfocus - Cover Image