As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop across the globe, the Self Storage Association Asia (SSAA) has issued the following practical guidance to its members.
Although the advice is primarily intended for self store operators in Asia, much of it can be applied to businesses elsewhere in the world and to those working in other sectors of the industry.
- Conduct a full cleaning of premises in advance of normal schedules.
- Have staff wipe down touched surfaces including keypads, door handles, trolley handles and other surfaces touched by visiting clients.
- If available, have hand sanitiser available for customers and staff prominently displayed at your reception and make it clear it is for customer use.
- Let visitors know where they can wash their hands if a sink with soap is available nearby.
- Get creative and avoid shaking hands – Namaste! Hand on heart and bow. Chinese hand over hand.
- Keep your distance, politely, but at least two metres.
- When signing paperwork, place it somewhere - like a desk or ledge - and then offer to have the client sign it after you have moved away.
- If site tours cannot be avoided, keep a distance of at least two metres.
- Encourage online sales where possible.
- Direct customers directly to their units, bypassing reception if possible.
- 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.
- Businesses, especially, will be keen to access their storage space. Do your best to accommodate them while protecting everyone’s health.
- The following symptoms should be a sign staff should stay home and be in self isolation: fever, cough, shortness of breath (for more, see this).
- If a staff member is showing symptoms, they should stay at home for at least seven days.
- If your staff live with other people, ask to ensure they have collectively stayed at home for at least 14 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
- If they are asymptomatic after 14 days, they can come back to work and go about their regular business. However, if anyone at their home displays symptoms, they should stay at home for seven days from the day of the onset of their symptoms. This may mean a longer home-stay than 14 days.
- If a staff member has a high temperature, they should stay at home until their temperature returns to normal.
Plan now to manage your store remotely
- Many of you have already had to manage your store remotely due to a lockdown process being in place. If you haven’t prepared for this eventuality, do so. It may come to your country/region as governments try out different means of halting the spread of this virus.
- Ensure that you have customer contacts available to you offsite. Print it out in case of an interruption in Internet services. If you need to close the store, you can communicate this to all your customers and ensure they can reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Ideally, you should also try and set up a system to monitor your CCTV and other security systems remotely. People may behave irrationally if frustrated or angry and break into premises to retrieve their goods, or thieves may take advantage of the situation to break in.
Watch payments very, very carefully
So far, we are hearing that clients have not been moving out of their units and are continuing to pay their bills. However, there may be an erosion of business depending on the economic impact in your area. Bill collection may be problematic during this period, especially if people were planning to move out in what becomes a lockdown period.
Know your customers. Be aware of potential non-payment and monitor payment schedules carefully. Restaurants, hospitality, F&B and anything connected to tourism will be particularly hard hit.
Contact errant tenants immediately and assess their situation. You may be asked to provide rent free periods for those who were planning to move out but could not due to a local lockdown.
Consider now your policy for dealing with those who cannot pay so you are not reacting to circumstances as they arise.
If you do offer a complimentary (i.e. free) period of storage to customers, clearly define how long you are offering and when it ends. Also, ask the client to confirm this in writing (i.e. by e-mail).
If you do choose to offer relief to existing customers, ensure you document this clearly and you define a fixed period or amount of relief offered and the end date.
These are strange times, but as Asia's connected and mutually supportive self storage community, we can move past this together to a brighter future!