By Caesar Wright
Conventional wisdom tells us the primary markets for self-storage facilities are families in the midst of a move, homeowners who are downsizing, or people living in multi-unit housing such as apartments and condos. While the industry has often catered to the business community, this market hasnt always accounted for a significant percentage of facility occupancy. Even still, commercial tenants are a customer base that shouldnt be overlooked.
Commercial tenants have traditionally been thought of as people who work from home, manufacturers' representatives who need to store samples or equipment, or very small businesses with limited office space. But a quality self-storage facility in the right location and with the right amenities can attract business from entrepreneurs and companies big and small.
There are dozens of reasons why businesses use self-storage. First, it meets the needs of enterprises that are expanding or temporarily overstocked. Companies of all sizes need space for excess inventory, equipment, promotional material or documents. Some just want to free up valuable office or work space for employees. Short-term leases are also needed by business owners who are renovating, relocating or redecorating.
There are also plenty of reasons that businesses seek long-term storage. Many are turning to self-storage for ongoing records storage. They may need a secure place to store medical or legal documents, since many are required to keep files for seven years or more. Others may need to warehouse equipment or excess inventory.
Some businesses use self-storage as a primary product warehouse to fulfill orders. In fact, given the proliferation of online businesses sprouting up in every type of industry, the need for warehousing and fulfillment facilities is higher than ever. Self-storage offers an extremely cost-effective way for online retailers to manage their inventory.
Amenities in Demand
What special amenities will these commercial customers demand? Businesses of all types and sizes look for a facility that can offer easy and convenient access and short-term rental agreements. These customers may use the facility more often than residential tenants, so they benefit from extended operating hours, handy loading areas and better-equipped units that are bigger in size.
They may have special requirements such as electrical outlets, Internet access, and possibly the ability to send and receive shipments from the front office. Most of your commercial customers will need climate-controlled units to preserve documents, products and materials.
Is your self-storage facility near a commercial area or business park? Is there evidence that the businesses in your area would benefit from additional storage or warehouse space? Do your research to see how much demand there is for commercial storage in your community and in what industry segments. If you find theres demand, this is an extremely lucrative market on which to focus your business growth.
Caesar Wright is president of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Mako Steel Inc., which designs, supplies and installs steel buildings for the self-storage industry nationwide. For more information, call 800.383.4932l; visit www.makosteel.com .