Manhattan Mini Storage has always been proud to provide safe and secure storage to our customers. As COVID-19 safety swiftly changed the landscape of NYC we made sure there was no lapse in the quality of our service. Below Satyam Shah, Vice President of Operations for Manhattan Mini Storage, addresses common questions about what’s new for customers & team members at our storage locations as we answer the challenge of social distancing.
For people less familiar with the industry, why has storage remained open as people have been limiting their movements around the city?
We quickly realized as NYC PAUSE began that we had a lot of things being stored that were needed to support other essential businesses. For example, we work with a lot of hospitals around the city – they store things they need to treat COVID patients such as masks, ventilators, even hospital beds.
Additionally, many small businesses that needed to temporarily close brought in their stock. Restaurants brought in furniture and equipment. Stores transitioning to curbside pickup and delivery needed to get items to support their new ways of doing business. People were worried about safety and access and moving things to Manhattan Mini Storage put their minds at ease.
For NYC residents we saw a lot of people coming in to get gym equipment and work from home items, plus toys, bikes and other kids’ items so they could be ready to be home for an extended period of time.
What are the main safety concerns for Manhattan Mini Storage customers?
We have a good starting point. Unlike most other NYC businesses, we operate massive buildings. There’s lots of space for social distancing. We have the ability to be on a storage floor and not even be within 100 feet of another person, let alone 6 feet. Even our elevators allow for more social distancing than you’d find around the city; some are so large they can safely carry 4 or 5 people with more than 6 feet of distance between them.
From the start we asked customers to limit their visits to our locations and they have been making fewer trips to storage. Customers are asked to wear masks. To limit traffic, we’re also being more restrictive about our lobbies to make sure people are in and out quickly. And, we added sanitizer stations in frequently used area, such as near our carts. We’re also offering single use masks as a courtesy for customers, in case theirs’ gets lost or broken during their visit.
Do the Manhattan Mini Storage team members working at the facilities day-to-day have the same concerns as the customers or are they slightly different?
We have been thinking more about how they get to work and their workdays. We redeployed our Free Storage Shuttle to help with transportation to and from work to help our team avoid public transit. We’ve also provided car services as another way to give them an option to commute with limited contact with others. Managers have been conscientious about scheduling shifts to keep interactions to a minimum and allow our team members the ability to commute together, if they’d like.
We also shortened our work week to four days and started providing free lunch and dinner delivery from neighborhood restaurants while they are at work. Our teams at the facilities are working the same number of hours, but they have more full days at home to spend time with family and focus on their physical and mental health. Providing onsite meals helps alleviate stress on meal prep outside work and less need to worry about high touch areas like sinks, fridges, and cabinets. As we transitioned to these new ways of working, we also provided each team member in the facility with a gift card to show our gratitude for their efforts and cover the cost of supplies they felt they needed to prepare for coming to work during this difficult time.
I always think of everyone on our frontline when I’m clapping at 7 p.m. They don’t get as much attention as doctors and nurses or even grocery store employees but, our team has been really amazing. We’ve had such an incredible surge of positive reviews online from people feeling thankful for the help they’ve received at Manhattan Mini Storage over the last few months.
Is there anything surprising or creative about the safety solutions as you address social distancing?
The first thing we did, that brought out the inner child in everyone, was ask all our team members to use the packing supplies and metal shelves we offer customers to build makeshift extensions of our counters. We wanted customers to be a safe distance from the team while they checked-in and these structures worked until we could install more permanent solutions. We never gave any specific instruction. It required a lot of creativity because our lobbies are all different, nothing is cookie-cutter.
At one location uptown it turned out there was already a plexiglass safety barrier built into the counter. The team was so surprised, it hadn’t been used in 10+ years. We unlocked the enclosure that allowed us to manually unroll it from the ceiling, and they were setup for social distancing in no time.
Is there a difference in how Manhattan Mini Storage is addressing safety compared to other storage providers?
One thing I’ve always said that “there’s no other storage company like us.” If you go to Chicago, Miami or LA, you see many different single-facility operators. Larger, national storage companies have more rural or suburban locations with customers of different needs than ours here in Manhattan. Single location storage facilities don’t have a fleet of vans to offer transportation and they likely can’t reconfigure schedules to reduce contact with others like we have.
Because we serve so many customers in such a concentrated area, we get the benefit of a quicker learning curve. We can share insights between our 17 locations, and it has really been helpful while we face this new challenge together.