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Inside Self-Storage 09/2004: Small-Business Packages

Cary F. McGovern Comments
Posted in Articles, Archive

Small-Business Packages

By Cary F. McGovern

Small records-storage accounts have two unique attributes. First, they are the easiest to handle; and second, they are by far the most profitable. The question has always been how to attract these small accounts without high sales costs. This article discusses high-yield/low-volume accounts.

Business records are defined as “proof of completion of a business transaction.” Every business and nonprofit organization has them. In the universe of your potential prospects, the number of small-business clients exceeds the number of large clients by 100 times. Traditional commercial- records businesses have not even scratched the surface of the small-business base in any market due to the cost of marketing.

Small records-storage clients can be defined as those with up to 200 boxes. These clients abound and are more likely to come into your self storage center than to any commercial records center in your market. These clients also have the lowest rate of retrieval, generally are the least trouble and require very little care and handling.

So what’s the secret? How can you get these without traditional sales calls and salesmen? This is the conundrum that has faced the industry from its inception. Today we have several factors that make this an ideal opportunity for self-storage operators. In last month’s column, I wrote about “records storage lite,” a concept that allows the operator to simplify his records-storage operation and maximize square-foot yield. (To read this article, access the online article archive at

Small-Business Packages Defined

A small-business package is a bundle of records-management services that costs less than a typical 10-by-10 storage unit and has value to a business client beyond simple storage. I recommend developing at least three alternative packages:

  • The “Economy Package” may include storage of up to 50 boxes, one box retrieval per month and will-call service.
  • The “Business Package” may include storage of up to 100 boxes, five box retrievals per month, box-level indexing and will-call service.
  • The “Professional Package” may include storage of up to 200 boxes, 10 box retrievals per month, box-level indexing, file retrieval and a courier-delivery option (for an additional fee).

These three options are simply examples, and the pricing for these packages can be different in a variety of markets throughout Canada, Europe and the United States. Regardless of your specific pricing structure, there are some key components that make small-business packages attractive to clients.

Value-Added Benefits

Small businesses have very little time to properly manage their records. They have little storage space, no expertise, and no real desire to deal with the growing mess. Boxes are stored hither and yon with very little organization. These businesses are looking for you and your services, but they don’t even know it!

Off-site records storage adds significant value to the integrity of business records because clients cannot access records unless they have the authority to do so. This avoids the ever-present danger of document tampering, damage or loss. This ethical and physical barrier has been used to prove the authenticity of business records in court and to regulators.

Another issue all businesses face is storage space. With a small-business package, companies can now have an incremental perunit cost for additional boxes. They never need additional rooms or floor space in their offices. As a matter of fact, if you provide appropriate levels of service, they may be able to send more records off site rather than adding additional filing equipment to their own facilities.

The Value to Self-Storage

Small-business packages combined with records management “lite” allow self-storage owners to provide a simplified service. This adds product diversification to your business, lengthens your contract terms, and provides three to five times the per-square-foot of traditional records storage.

The quest in self-storage records management has been de- fined: develop a low-cost service package that is simple to execute, is highly valuable to business clients, and has elevated profit margins. This is not an easy task, but the method I prescribe has been proven by hundreds of facilities. In some cases, yield exceeds that of traditional records management by three or four times. The best part is, it’s simple.

Self-storage facilities have significant walk-in traffic, with some percentage represented by small businesses in any market. You have the opportunity to sell these prospects records-management services. You just need something to offer and know how to present it.

Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service records-management assistance for commercial records storage startups, marketing assistance, and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For assistance in feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail;

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