Getting up and running with portable storage can be a much faster process than with a traditional storage site. Domestic suppliers can provide containers in just a few weeks, compared to the months or even years that go into planning and permitting a new building. Phasing is as simple as ordering a truckload of containers as needed once the initial warehouse or storage yard is in place; expanding your fleet takes just a phone call.
Operations and Marketing
By its nature, portable storage is a far more labor-intensive business. While traditional storage defines itself as a lease on space, portable storage adds delivery services. Scheduling becomes much more important in managing a portable business, compared to a fixed site where customers come and go through an automated gate.
In most cases, a driver is required, and department of transportation laws and regulations must be followed. It’s possible to ease into the business by subcontracting the transportation; however, in doing so, the portable operator loses control of what may be his only face-to-face contact with the customer. Efficient management of the delivery service can be the difference between making or losing money.
Typically, traditional storage draws customers from 3 to 5 miles, with visible doors a key source of business. Portable storage serves up to a 30-mile radius, greatly expanding the potential customer base. Containers in service, branded with the business logo, phone number and website, serve as important marketing tools.
Regions of the country may report different busy times for traditional self-storage. Portable storage also has a busy time. About half of all moves happen during the summer months when school is out, so a spike in portable business is typical. Remodeling and home renovations are another source of business for portable operators, and a decline during the holiday season is to be expected. Traditional storage generally sees longer-term rentals, which helps create a more stable occupancy level.
If you’re thinking of expanding or opening a new site, consider all your options. Aside from portable and traditional storage, there’s also micro/movable storage, which could be considered a step in between. Micros can be moved with a forklift when empty, allowing flexible placement without a foundation.
Both traditional and portable-storage organizations exist to offer education. As with any business, the key is to provide the right product to the right people, at the right price and the right time. The trick is to know what’s right before making that big investment!
Steve Hajewski has been the product development manager for Trachte Building Systems since 2005, leading the development of the company’s portable product line. He now also serves as Trachte’s marketing manager. For more information on the company’s line of portable-storage products, visit www.trachteportables.com.