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A How-To Guide to Records Storage: Ancillary Insight for Self-Storage Operators

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Just-In-Time Labor

Unlike traditional self-storage, records storage requires more labor. However, it’s possible to  outsource 100 percent of the work to resources in your community with a minimum of 50 percent margins. All outsourced labor sources must be trained by you and follow your rules, which you can outline in a strategic partnering agreement. Examples of just-in-time labor are:

  • Initial intake of records-storage boxes is outsourced to a small, local moving company. Local movers love regular work since most moves are a one-time event. You’ll provide a weekly event for them.
  • Indexing of initial intake is outsourced to individuals who have flexible schedules and can work when you need them. There’s an abundance of people available with these skills.
  • Indexing of files and boxes after the initial intake is outsourced to the customer by allowing him access to your online data base with security, confidentiality and passwords.
  • Courier services are provided by a local independent courier. Couriers are similar to cab drivers—they are constantly waiting for the next engagement. Outsourcing this function gives the courier a regular delivery route.
  • Retrievals and re-files are generally outsourced to students or individuals who can work after hours. Retrievals are on demand while re-files of boxes or files can be stacked in a temporary receiving area until the volume reaches a point that requires an hour or two of work.
  • Regular pick-ups happen after the initial intake of records is complete and reconciled with the client. Additional or returned boxes may be sent back, as well files that can be returned to their regular storage box. Since pick-ups are rarely an emergency, these can be regularly scheduled with a courier.  

Software and Training

Today’s record-storage software is inexpensive and can be easy to operate. The software products to manage your inventory all have small-business versions. They also have an Internet interface that enables the customer to access his records or indices from his desktop.

Records storage will require some operations and sales training. However, many companies now offer training on video, audio, MP3 and course workbooks. Your records-storage sales can be handled by employees, telemarketers, agents and others. The key is scripting, which is typically a part of a sales-training course package.

Many of the reasons self-storage operators were wary of records storage in the past have all fallen by the wayside. With outsourcing, just-in-time labor, training availability and technological leaps, it’s no longer difficult or unusual for a self-storage facility to introduce records storage as an ancillary service. When considering this profit center, do some research first to determine if your market is right for records storage.    

Cary F. McGovern has been in the commercial records-management industry for 34 years. He has assisted more than 500 companies in 23 countries enter and excel in this unique business. He is a member of ARMA International and PRISM International, and is a speaker at numerous industry tradeshows and conferences. To reach him, call 504.669.0559; e-mail ; visit .

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