Basics for the First-Time Self-Storage Owner

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Building Supplier. Manufacturers should be your No. 1 priority because they will not only provide high-quality designs and components, but will also offer professional sales consultants who can provide advice and guidance in every phase of the process. This includes such things as building design and materials, construction issues, unit size and mix, etc. You should view your sales consultant as an advisor on most decisions that arise.

Case in point: A couple who own a facility in Georgia had an engineer design their site layout and determined they could build 70,000 square feet of self-storage space on their property. Their building sales consultant showed them how to increase that amount to 100,000 square feet.

As the old adage goes, “They’ve been there, done that,” so use them. It means less hassle, more efficient procedures, and if anything goes wrong or you have a question there’s only one place to get answers. One final note: When purchasing buildings, look for the best warranties and you will find the best products.

Construction. Next, the facility site needs to be prepared for construction. This involves hiring a general contractor to handle grading, paving, landscaping, storm sewers and drainage systems, graveling, fencing, pouring concrete slabs and other land-related issues, prior to having building components delivered for erection.

A professional, certified construction crew will be needed to erect the building components on the foundation slabs. Ideally, your building manufacturer will offer crews. If so, the timing of building erection can coincide with the availability of the crew, the completion of the site preparation and the delivery of materials. Too often, it’s difficult to get the site completed, materials shipped and a construction crew available all at the same time.

You will soon learn that delays can affect anticipated opening dates, which translates to lost revenue. Obviously, the sooner you can get your facility operational, the sooner you can start making money. So it’s important that your building supplier provide an onsite supervisor and back-office project manager to make sure the project stays on schedule and is completed on time.

The information covered in this article is broad-stroking the process of getting started in the self-storage business. It covers only the basics—the bare facts. If you’re serious about self-storage, there is plenty more detailed information available. Ultimately, the more you know, the more you’ll understand, and the more successful you will be.

Terry Campbell is vice president of sales and marketing for BETCO Inc., a single-source manufacturer of metal self-storage buildings. For more information, call 800.654.7813; e-mail tcampbell@betcoinc.com; visit www.betcoinc.com.

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