Records management is a perfect adjunct to your self-storage business if you’re looking to expand and provide a vital service in a thriving, profitable business. As a self-storage company, you already have two essential assets for successful records management: an established customer base of great candidates for records-storage services, and the facility. If your customers are satisfied with your self-storage services, chances are they will favorably consider your company for their records-management needs.
All that’s left is a little imagination, a sound business plan and the desire to enter this business, providing a critical service that’s here to stay and do nothing but grow. But it does add a new dimension to the mix.
With traditional self-storage, you rent the unit but have no knowledge of what is being stored. With records management, knowledge of what is being stored is essential to having a complete audit trail of who accessed what records and when. This is called “chain of custody,” which refers to the chronological documentation and/or paper trail showing the retrieval, custody, control, transfer, analysis and disposition of records and data, physical or electronic.
Why is this important? Before answering that question, we must understand what records management is all about and how it differs from records storage.
By providing proper racking to store business records and manpower to put away and retrieve records, you have moved into a new industry. Many people have successfully taken a portion of their self-storage business and converted it into records storage. Cary McGovern first wrote about nontraditional records storage in Inside Self-Storage as far back as 2003 (“Nothing but the Facts,” June 2003).
In this context, non-traditional records storage is simply a cut-down version of full-blown records storage, with simplified services. For example, you may not offer the collection, or delivery of records to/from your client’s premises. The critical factor here, however, is you are taking responsibility for the safe transfer to/from the storage building and for the safe storage of those records. Security just became an important factor.