Records Storage

Creating a Boutique Records-Storage Center in Your Existing Self-Storage Operation: High Yield at Very Little Cost

Adding a boutique records-storage center to an existing self-storage operation can yield a high return per square foot with long-term contracts. It requires very little capital and no additional manpower. Read how records storage can generate some add-on profit.

By Cary F. McGovern

Adding a boutique records-storage center to your existing self-storage operation can yield a high return per square foot with long-term contracts. It requires very little capital and no additional manpower. Read how records storage can generate add-on profit for your business.

We live in a world of accelerated change. Business processes evolve frequently because of new technology and the adaptations of old ideas to accommodate it.

Records storage has gone through several changes in its 60-year history: slow growth, then fast growth; consolidation, then hundreds of new players; and then another round of consolidation lead by private-equity companies. Each time, the features and benefits of records storage have shifted.

Now theres a new opportunity in the market: the boutique records-storage center. It offers all the frills of international records-storage companies but at less cost and greater convenience for the customer. This article explains how you, as a self-storage operator, can create a boutique records-storage center as part of your existing business.

Records-Keeping in 2011

The idea of keeping records of business transactions dates back to ancient Egypt. In the modern era, changes began after World War II when the U.S. economy began growing by leaps and bounds. Government regulations, corporate best-business practices and the growth of litigation elevated the simple storage of records to an essential part of every business, large and small.

The commercial-records management and storage industry has matured, and the companies are all after growth and more volume, but theyre the top-feeders. The nature of a traditional records center is it must continue to feed itself with new business or growth of existing business. The cost of sales keeps sales representatives after customers who represent the higher levels of volume.

The American economy is made up of a huge number of small businesses. These have never been the target of the larger international, national or even regional records and information-management (RIM) service providers. Half of the market is available to small boutique records-storage operations that can provide the same services at a much lower cost (with a much higher profit margin and without competition). That seems incredible, but its not.

Small-Business Solutions

Thousands of small businesses face the same records-keeping challenges as major corporations, but the accessibility and affordability of large RIM companies seems out of reach. However, theres a solution already being successfully offered by a few hundred of your fellow self-storage operators. It combines the principles of records storage lite with dozens of new features and benefits that simply come along with the new technology. Now even the smallest business can save money and have a comprehensive records-management program.

Who better to deliver this service than a local self-storage facility? The confidentiality and security of information has risen to the forefront of peoples concerns. Every day we read articles about information loss or identity theft. What used to be a hard sell is now a simple one. We can actually save a small businesses money and, at the same time, provide a comprehensive records-management program that enhances the protection of customer information.

Boutique Records Storage

A boutique records-storage center is a hybrid of a traditional records center, the convenience of a local self-storage facility and the best technology available, including all compliance and security requirements. Hundreds of self-storage companies have come up with creative records-storage solutions for their small-business clients.

Traditional records centers, from the large international giants to smaller, local providers, focus on larger accounts with a minimum of several hundred units of storage. Boutique records centers focus on accounts with between 100 and 500 boxes. Its likely and possible youll attract and sign larger accounts, but thats a bonus.

In addition, its all about location. The closer you are to your records-storage customers, the more options they have to do business with you. Since your clients are small-business owners, saving money is always on their minds. A boutique records-storage center offers services designed to fit the neighborhood business.

The records-management software manufacturers have all developed small-business pricing for new startups. These are not stripped-down versions, but exactly the same software the big guys use. The secret is in using it. Keep in mind features, benefits and the creation of a comprehensive records-management program with no additional expense for the customer.

Why should a self-storage facility become a boutique records center? Theres no ancillary service related to storage that has the same potential for long-term revenue. The profit possibilities are limited only by your own interest and desire. Theres no additional manpower needed, and establishing a boutique center requires very little capital. Records storage provides high yield per square foot, long-term contracts and many other measureable benefits.

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 [email protected]; visit

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