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Drew Whitney Comments
Posted in Articles, Archive

Americans spend fervently ship packages every day of the year, fueling an already boisterous $900 billion mailing industry. Many self-storage operators have begun to claim a piece of the pie for themselves, offering mailing services directly from their office and retail areas. With studies forecasting explosive growth in shipping—primarily due to increases in Internet-based commerce—maybe it’s time you grabbed a slice of the profits.

Shortcut to a Shipping Business

If you have an office and a retail area at your self-storage facility, you’re one giant step closer to starting a mailing center. Acquiring scales, hardware, software and postal-carrier contracts can be time-consuming challenges for time-pressed operators, but now there’s a shortcut.

“From Ship to Store provides all the services necessary to start a mail center—affordably and without all the hassles,” says Keith Marshall, who co-founded the Texas-based operation with his partner, David Boatner. “We pull all the vendors together and provide the training, making it much quicker and cheaper than self-storage owners can do on their own. We can get everything up and running within a month.”

Once a storage owner calls From Ship to Store, Marshall gets the ball rolling by ordering the necessary equipment: scale for weighing packages, shipping-label printer, postage machine, receipt printer, and PC system and software. The software automates the printing of shipping labels and documentation, eliminating the need to fill out bills of lading and export documentation.

The system compares rates and delivery dates of three carriers—FedEx, United States Postal Service and DHL—allowing the customer to select the most suitable price and delivery time. Contracts with all carriers are coordinated by From Ship to Store, which also assures new mailing centers are equipped with all proper signage.

The entire system is installed and configured by Marshall’s staff, who will also arrange on-site training—a one-day session to educate employees about all the hardware, software and shipping transactions.

Like bread and butter, self-storage and mailing services make the perfect team, says Marshall. “What makes this beautiful for self-storage owners is they already have their overhead covered. You don’t need extra people to operate a shipping and mailing business. Managers can handle shipping transactions in their downtime.”

Once the system is up and running, operators are on their way to recouping their investments and reaping greater revenues. “At my facility, I ship 150 to 200 boxes a month, netting between $800 and $1,000 more through the mailing services,” says Marshall.

Taking Care of Business

Necessity is the mother of invention, but frustration just might be the father. Marshall and Boatner conceptualized From Ship to Store after they’d personally experienced the aggravation of introducing shipping services at their own facilities. When numerous colleagues started calling for guidance on adding mailing centers, the pair knew they had a business opportunity. “There was a real need for a company that could take all the complexity out of the process,” says Boatner, who owns Store Smart Storage, in Manor, Texas.

One of the best perks for a storage owner, Marshall says, is that each box enters the facility in the arms of a potential tenant. “As soon as they’re in the door, I have a shot at selling something to them. Even if they don’t need storage right now, when they do need a unit, they’ll think, ‘Well, why don’t I just go to the place where I send all my packages and buy my stamps?’”

Postal services have become a successful profit-making venture for many self-storage facilities. As the shipping industry continues to grow, Marshall believes there will only be more ancillary opportunities for storage operators. “A shipping and mailing service,” he says, “is a great, affordable side business that’s perfect for self-storage.” 

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