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Launching a Portable-Storage Business: Business Models, Costs and Potential Revenue

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The Customers

The customer base of your new moving and portable-storage facility includes three primary markets: residential, commercial and LDMs.

The residential market makes up about 60 percent of the portable-storage industry’s clientele. The demographics to which portable storage caters are far broader than you would imagine. They might include:

  • A homeowner moving across town
  • A customer who needs to de-clutter his garage and will only need a month-long rental
  • A college student headed home for the summer
  • A family moving internationally and needing storage for an extended period of time

The case-by-case possibilities are endless, but every single one has the potential to increase your revenue through a monthly rental rate, transportation fees, protection plans, and an endless amount of packing merchandise.

About 30 percent of a portable-storage operation's clientele is comprised of commercial customers, including clients in the construction, remodeling and disaster-relief industries. These clients rent for the purpose of storing their customers’ belongings or materials needed onsite at a job. That being said, some of these containers are stored for a higher rental rate for long-term projects. When opening a new portable-storage location, it’s very important to target market and foster relationships with your local contractors.

A portable-storage business averages about 10 percent of its revenue from LDMs. These are customers who are relocating from one state to another and are handled by multiple locations within a nationwide company. These moves are more costly for end users, but the revenue-share profit is much larger for locations participating in this system. Whether yours is in a more inbound or outbound location, the profit share for the move is very lucrative for you and cost-effective for your customers.

The moving and portable-storage industry works off many trends and seasonal business that an owner can time with his efforts and costs throughout the year. It’s important to learn and understand these tendencies to better prepare for what lies ahead.

Whether you go with a franchise or fractional model, planning your portable-storage operation's grand opening along with pricing and marketing are all extremely vital. It may be wise to partner with a national company that has experience in the industry to ensure your continued success.

Good luck in your new venture. 

Michael P. Smith is vice president of operations for UNITS Franchise Group, which offers portable-storage containers nationwide. He participates in all operational aspects at UNITS and helps grow the company’s national footprint. He’s also in charge of staff hiring and training, price setting, company audits, and overall relationship and business development. For more information, call 843. 881.0113; visit .

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