There are many ways to lay out a site. It’s important to maximize potential profit through your design, but you still need to be able to consistently keep the facility full. Many people say, “I want to make sure I have all drive-up units.” Customers may prefer this for convenience, but the design may lose too much land to driveway space and, therefore, may not be the best choice in all areas.
When looking to maximize the profitability of a site, first consider extra-wide, single-story buildings. This increases your percentage of rentable square footage on the land. By adding climate control to the interior units in the middle of the building, you can also increase the rental rates. Adding additional levels is another approach, although the expense of an elevator and space consumed by stairwells cuts into the bottom line. Armed with competitor rates in your area and ballpark building costs, you can begin to evaluate whether to continue exploring a particular site.
Creating and Executing a Site Plan
When developing your site plan, make sure you have an attractive, functional office layout with good curb appeal. The layout should allow your customers to get into the office without going through the gate. Place the gate keypad so there’s room for a car or truck to pull in and enter a code without blocking the street or sidewalks. Design the driveways to flow throughout the site and exit through that same gate if possible. Avoid creating dead ends, as the last thing you want is drivers backing out of an aisle. The general public isn’t good at driving backward, especially in a rental truck.
Once you have a good idea of where and how you want to build, take the plan to the city planning authority for review. In many areas, you’ll need to conform to the recommendations of the architectural review board. This means they may dictate how your project must look. Developers are often irritated when the city issues requirements that cost them money, but in some respects, they’re forcing you into building a nicer facility that will most likely help you rent units.
That being said, you’ll still have to make sure you can afford all these extras while making the project economically feasible. In some communities, meeting the architectural standards is so costly that you cannot get enough rent out of the project to make it viable. In these areas, you may find the city is more receptive to a plan that involves converting an existing vacant building into self-storage.
Working With a Team
Once your plans are approved from the planning commission, you’ll need to build a team of experts to ensure the project is constructed properly and on time. One of the most visible choices you’ll make is your building type. Look for a building supplier and builder with experience in the structures you’re planning to build, and visit sites of their other customers to see the buildings in person.