By Wadih Haddad
In January 2008, The Box opened the doors to its maiden self-storage operation, offering a state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Since then, the company has gone on to build a reputation as an international-services provider with a penchant for quality offerings. It operates more than 15 locations across the UAE.
Demand for self-storage is rising around the globe, including the UAE, where inquiries for the service are on the rise. With nine facilities in the Dubai emirate and others throughout the UAE, The Box operates more than 90,000 square feet of occupied space. The company has been ramping up operation and increasing its footprint across multiple cities in the Gulf and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regions.
The Box's first commercial storage warehouse in Abu Dhabi is soon to be followed with another 15,000-square-foot climate-controlled facility that will offer personal and commercial storage. The company is also venturing overseas into Beirut. The soon-to-open facility will be the first to offer climate-controlled self-storage services in the region.
The current economic climate is proving to be quite advantageous for self-storage providers in the UAE. Theres a growing trend among customers to look for alternative solutions in office/personal storage space. Demand is also high for relocation services that provide a greater degree of flexibility for customers.
The increase in demand is being reflected across The Box's service offerings. Removal services, local moves within Dubai, removals to and from surrounding Emirates, and international relocations are just a few services customers desire. Responding positively to this, The Box increased the number of removal teams at its disposal and now offers local and international moves. The company has forged partnerships with external contractors to increase market presence. It has also signed international agreements with multiple storage facilities to assist customers in Canada, Europe and the United States. The Box also offers document storage and an online store for packaging materials.
The Box has been scaling its operation to meet growing demand. The company has renewed its hiring efforts, and its staff has doubled from last year. State-of-the-art systems are being put in place to keep the company abreast with the latest industry developments. Efforts are also under way to increase employee output and satisfaction levels through better training and other motivational offerings.
Increased occupancy and the current economic sentiment also create certain challenges for self-storage companies in the UAE. Uncertainty over storage lengths and payment abilities have led to additional checks on credit-control features. The market conditions reward those that show flexibility in storage terms as well as other proactive consumer-confidence measures.
The Box has initiated expansion plans that will allow it to meet growing demand, but the strategy is not without obstacles, such as finding the right warehouses at appropriate locations. Potential facilities also have to meet self-storage specifications while matching high product and service standards.
Uniformity in service delivery as well adherence to core values and exceptional customer service has allowed The Box to cultivate a loyal customer base. Buoyed by word-of-mouth publicity from satisfied customers, demand has been rising from the first-time renters segment as well.
As the year comes to a close, The Box owners are hopeful that customer uncertainty will start to level out as personal and commercial customers look to the future. Along with increasing market share in the personal self-storage category, the company is focusing on key segments such as document and inventory management and long-term commercial storage. The owners are excited about new possibilities and hope for a bright, successful future.
Wadih Haddad is founder and CEO of The Box, a self-storage operator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company has nine facilities in Dubai, and plans to expand its presence in the UAE. For more information, call + 971 4 347 6933; visit www.theboxme.com.