By Karen Hall
Records storage can be a wonderful opportunity to expand a self-storage facility’s core business. By offering this service, you fill a need in the community. It’s expensive for a business to store records in a commercial records-management warehouse; and keeping records in the company office or storage room eats up a lot of space. For these reasons, the option to stow records at a local self-storage facility is appealing.
However, it’s important to note the philosophy “build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to records storage. You must take assertive steps to get the word out to local businesses. They will come, but you must draw them in. While you may not experience overnight success, when deployed correctly, records storage can provide a steady stream of revenue, create long-term contracts and boost your facility’s income. If you’d like to add this service to your self-storage operation, here are some things to consider.
To determine your initial investment, consider these main components of records storage: staff training, unit shelving and advertising/promotion. The price you charge for records storage will be based on what your market will bear and the success of your marketing program. Research your potential customer base and check out the competition.
The question is whether your renters will pay a premium for the convenience of a storage unit properly equipped for business records. My experience says yes, people are willing to pay for convenience and appreciate services that save time and money.
By amortizing your investment and adding the cost to your rental base, it may take you one or more years to recoup your costs. However, during this “payback period,” you’ll gain income stability due to long-term contracts. You’ll also reap the benefit of internal growth—as your clients’ businesses grow, so does their need for additional space. Once a company makes the decision to move its records offsite, it’s made a long-term commitment. The lure of lower rental rates at another location isn’t all that appealing, as it’s often not worth the time and energy to move all those boxes.
To create a quicker return on your investment, you can bundle services into the monthly rate, creating a higher perceived value of the space being rented. There are many services for which a business client might be willing to pay, and it’s typical within the industry to gain up to 50 percent more revenue over the monthly storage rate for offerings such as:
- Transportation of bins, boxes and containers from an office to the storage facility
- Copying and shredding services
- Storage and retrieval of boxes and files
- Use of office machines and meeting rooms
The best part is the bundle rate is no longer a dollar amount that’s comparable to the rent of air space offered by a competitor.
A “storage-ready” unit is one that’s already outfitted with shelves for boxes of records. It’s created by installing shelves that fit the unit’s height, width and depth. An efficient layout provides for maximum box storage, required per-shelf weight capacity, air flow, adequate aisle width, and easy storage and retrieval.
You can create a sample of a storage-ready unit in one of your empty spaces (perhaps your least popular size). This will allow the customer to see the shelving layout, understand the benefits of clean and organized storage, and get a definitive answer on total box capacity.
Storage-ready units not only increase your monthly rental income, they promote long-term contracts. The commercial records-storage industry reports the average length of time files stay on shelving is 16 years. Businesses storing their records aren’t month-to-month renters. They’re in for the long term.
Some customers may not need a unit filled entirely with shelving. They may instead require a combination of storage products to accommodate collectibles, files, materials, product inventory and tools. To accommodate individual needs, you can sell archive boxes, assorted storage bins and shelving units. Put a display of these offerings in your office retail center.
Business customers may already be renting space at your self-storage facility. These are prime candidates. Each person who calls your facility, walks through the front door, or visits your website or social media platforms should know you offer records storage and other business services! Describe the benefits of offsite records storage and provide details of the services you offer. If your facility is close to business or industrial parks, office buildings or retail stores, you’re surrounded by potential customers.
As with any successful advertising campaign, the consistency of the message is crucial. It might be “We offer records storage and business services” or “We are your records-storage specialist.”
Add the new offering to your company website. We live in a Web-search world, so spread the word to your largest audience. Another inexpensive way to advertise your records storage is to add eye-catching, professionally designed banners to your property that capture the attention of your community. Continue the promotion at your front desk with posters and fliers. If you offer storage-ready units, include photos of them on your website and in your brochures. A monthly mailing or flier delivery is a great reminder that your facility specializes in records storage.
If you’re looking for a creative way to generate additional revenue at your self-storage facility, consider the many benefits of records storage.
Karen Hall is the owner of Archive Storage Solutions, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based company with strategically located warehouse-distribution centers that allow delivery to cities nationwide. For more information, call 877.673.2505; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.archivestoragesolutions.com.