January 2, 2007

5 Min Read
Self-storage companies offering records storage often forget to reach out to commercial-records customers. Its a common oversight, yet you can grow your records-storage business exponentially by communicating directly to the business sector. In fact, those who operate traditional storage in unison with records storage have many marketing advantages over facilities dedicated solely to records.

Records storage taps into three distinctly different markets. Review the following and decide which accounts youll be targeting.

Fortune 1,000 and large regional companies: These are industry giants. Accounts yield box-storage volumes ranging from tens of thousands to 100,000. This segment is global, national or regional, has high service requirements and is price driven.

Mid-sized companies: These are targeted by traditional records centers and include large local or small regional companies. Typically, the average account yields 700 to 1,500 boxes. Youll need a full-time outside salesperson and a sales management approach to land these contracts. Clients are hard to get but worth the effort; theyll turn into long-term accounts and grow in volume each year.

Small-business accounts: This group is by far the biggest. For every huge and mid-sized company, youll find 100 small-business prospects. There are more than 100 small-business accounts for each of the prospects in the first two categories.

Walk-In Prospects

Walk-in prospects are virtually unheard of in the commercial records-storage industry. But if youre operating a self-storage facility with records storage, youre in luck. Self-storage has a much higher walk-in rate. Every person walking in the door to inquire about renting a storage unit is a potential records-storage client. Many own a business; most work for one. Dont miss a great promotional opportunity.

This walk-in factor greatly enhances your records-storage marketing strategy. Commercial operators are always on the hunt for new blood, but youll draw a captive audience that virtually no commercial records-storage business can beata prospect who comes straight to you.

Twisting Dollars

Records-storage businesses have been flying under the radar for more than 50 years. Stand-alone facilities have a hard time raising awareness among business owners and educating them to the benefits of records storage. Consequently, theyre forced to hire salesmen to bring in accounts. The expense requires them to focus on larger contracts, but these also take longer to close. You, on the other hand, have sales opportunities approach your counter several times a day. Your clients may represent smaller companies but come from a much wider market.

How do they find you? Through good signage on a major highway, Yellow Pages advertising, your website, direct mail and telemarketing. You should also add to your marketing plans:

Small-business packages. Create three small-business packages: economy, small-business and professional. Each should carry a low price to clients and high yield for you. (Youll find a comprehensive discussion of the packages on the Inside Self-Storage website as well as at Search for Small Business Packages in the article database.) 

Advertising specific to records storage. Within your existing self-storage marketing budget, allocate funds directly to records storage periodically; highlight records storage on your web page, in your Yellow Page ads and any other marketing resources.

Offer incentives to employees. Create an incentive program to entice sales with your staff. Maybe offer $25 for each closed account. Remember these accounts will stay with you for a long time, so its worth the effort.

Train your employees. All front-office personnel should understand the value of records storage to your client. They should know what it is, why its important and how to close a deal.

Training manual. Simple, to-the-point manuals are best. Guidelines should stress to salespeople it should take less than five minutes for them to make a presentation and close a new client.

Value to Clients

Your business client always has business records. The only difference between small and large companies is volume of boxes. All companies have exactly the same problems and needs for holding onto records: litigation avoidance, regulatory compliance and sound business practice. They could self-manage records, but your services provide great value and numerous benefits, the most important of which are listed here:

Separation of records from the enterprise. By separating the records from the client you place a physical and ethical wall between the records and any malice.

No labor required. Client never have to worry about who to send to storage and when.

Infinite space. Clients never run out of space or clutter up much-needed and expensive office/retail space with records.

Price by the unit of storage. Each new box is a simple unit price, which saves clients money.

Value to You

For self-storage owners, branching into records storage offers many paybacks: Renting cubes, not squares. Unlike self-storage, records storage relies on cubic footage, instead of square feet, which is sold in traditional self-storage. Records storage can bring greater returns on floor-to-ceiling space.

Permanent contracts. Self-storage relies on monthly agreements and higher turnover than records contracts, which typically have more permanency.

Higher yields. Packaging allows for higher yield than a simple price formula. For example, a 35 cent box-storage charge can yield 75 cents monthly. In self-storage, you certainly arent being paid by the box. But with records storage, the more the merrier!

Ancillary services. If you include additional services, youll attract and keep more clients. Providing the services also means youll be interacting with your tenants more often, allowing you to build long-lasting relationships. 

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, or to sign up for the FileMan Newsletter, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail [email protected]; visit

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