If records storage has gotten your attention but you just dont know if it fits into your facility, there are several things you can do to facilitate the decision-making process. First and foremost, you need to gather the facts about this profitable add-on service.
Self-storage companies everywhere provide records storage for customers without even knowing it. In some cases, a facility only provides storage while others actually offer records management. Whats the difference?
Records storage, at its most basic, involves tenants simply storing their boxes in a storage unit. In addition to space, you can provide shelving for a higher rate and possibly even use of a database for tenants to keep track of their records via a kiosk.
Records storage shifts to management when you control the access to the records and clients must use your custodial services. Full-service records management can include many services supported by people, processes and technology. There is almost no limit to the services you can provide, or you can provide records management in its simplest format with all outsourced labor.
As you see, there are many dimensions to the service, ranging from simple to complex. Only you can decide how you want it to operate in your facility.
Want to Learn More?
A new year is a great time to launch a new venture. Where do you begin learning about records storage and management?
One place to start is the Inside Self Storage Expo in Las Vegas, Feb. 5-8, the industrys largest conference and tradeshow. The event will feature at least two knowledgeable speakers presenting seminars that relate to records storage.
These sessions should answer most basic questions as well as address more advanced concepts regarding how the service works in a self-storage environment. You can also attend roundtable discussions for question-and-answer encounters with records-storage experts.
In the expo hall, youll find numerous records-storage vendors demonstrating their wares and offering guidance in the field. Look for companies such as DHS Worldwide, Docu Data Software, FileMan, ONeil Software and REB Storage Systems.
If you dont have the time or money to travel to a convention, you can always visit the ISS website at www.insideselfstorage.com to access a free archive of articles on a wide range of self-storage topics, including records storage and management. Simply type your key words into the search box in the upper right corner of the web page. You should get more than 100 hits and can take your pick.
Heres yet another option: Access free audio recordings available at the ISS website (click on Webinars in the top menu) or at www.fileman.com and www.oneilsoft.com. These allow you to listen to presentations from past conferences or online seminars. You can attend these at any time via your computer.
Companies like the vendors mentioned above offer free consultations to help you determine if records storage is right for your business. Most have dozens of documents available to educate you during the decision-making process. I also recommend contacting PRISM International, the industry association, which has an amazing amount of information available on its website at www.prismintl.org.
Using a little ingenuity, youll find a wealth of information for this exciting niche business. For a crash course in records storage/management, do the following:
- Peruse the websites mentioned in this article.
- Read a dozen or more articles that strike your fancy.
- Listen to a webinar or other recorded presentation.
- Call the vendors listed above and inquire about their free consultations and other available materials.
Finally, come to the ISS Expo and speak with the professionals available to help you make a qualified decision. Then you can join the thousands of other self-storage operators who are reaping the benefits of offering records-related services.
Cary F. McGovern is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service assistance for commercial records-storage startups and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For help with feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.fileman.com.