Storage facilities: they’re not one-dimensional things, you know. In the words of American poet Walt Whitman, they are large, and they contain multitudes – and not just multitudes of stuff, either. For new entrepreneurs, they provide chance to both ease the pressures of starting your own small business – and an opportunity to stop being a ‘small’ business entirely.
How can self storage do this? We’ve helpfully counted the ways – and devised our very own four-step self storage business plan for everybody taking that first, heady jump into the great commercial unknown.
1. Office space
Every self-respecting business person needs an office. You could probably make a stab at running your organisation from home, but then you’ve got kids to contend with, neighbours to argue with, a bunch of stuff getting in the way, and the lilting siren song of Netflix (and other distractions) constantly seducing you into not doing work.
Tough though it is to resist their charms, you must; for running a small business effectively requires a proper working environment. A pure, dedicated space to keep your red staplers, wear ties, and do general company stuff. If you’re going to be the boss, you should feel like the boss, not some weirdo wearing decayed underwear and lounging around in bedsheets full of day-old pizza.
Luckily, many storage facilities also offer dedicated, on-site office space – meaning your company HQ can be right near the goods it’s selling. This makes general admin much easier (discrepancy in stock numbers? No need to trek to the warehouse – you can get counting right away!) and it’s frequently much cheaper than conventional business letting, especially in densely populated cities like London or Manchester.
2. You’ve got mail
The next step in your self storage business plan should be finding a company happy to take care of those little annoying tasks. On the whole, businesses get more mail than people, so getting it sent to your house isn’t really an option (it’ll look like that scene in the first Harry Potter when he finally finds out what the Dursleys have been keeping from him).
Therefore, a mailbox service should be very high on your priority list. If you’ve ever had one of those irritating “Sorry we missed you” notes from Royal Mail, you’ll know why; a small business typically won’t have many employees, and if they’re out at an event (or enjoying a team lunch), it’s possible that crucial correspondence or items won’t be delivered. This is, for obvious reasons, a big problem. Missing a crucial letter or package – maybe about an application for a loan, a document relating to a potential deal, or an invoice – can be potentially devastating to your business. So if you’ve rented an office at a storage unit, make sure it’s one with mailbox services.
This also works if you haven’t rented office space: typically, you can use the facility’s mailboxes as a virtual forwarding address – meaning you won’t be inundated with mail. It may not sound like much, but not having to deal with this sort of thing means you’ll have more time to focus on the things that actually matter in terms of sales and revenue.
3. Customer service
Nothing makes life harder for small businesses than customers. It’s a hard truth to learn, and a harder one to hear, but there it is. Because they spend most of their time buying from bigger companies, they’re used to the big company shopping experience. They click on an item and then that item comes to their house. They receive emails that tells them when an item they want is available for less money. And if there’s ever a problem, they ring up, and it puts them through to a perky, apologetic receptionist or customer service rep who immediately solves their problem in a cheerful, energetic fashion that just about stays on the right side of ‘annoying’.
Now, if you’re just starting out, this last bit might be a little difficult for you: again, your staff are out of office all the time, doing entrepreneur-y things like meeting clients and potential business partners (or maybe just relaxing with a glass of wine – hey, everyone has their coping mechanisms), and that means you need to fake it, basically. Sorry. Customers have certain expectations – they always want to feel like your only priority. One to one service, pal; it’s the name of the game.
Luckily, you can incorporate this into your self storage business plan too, because any facility worth its salt will be able to help. With personal telephone answering teams, you can bring that big-business customer service to your startup or SME. They’ll answer with your company name, they’ll know what your company does, they’ll take messages, and a ‘virtual’ number can even be hosted on different sites – giving the impression that your company is a little larger and more affluent than it perhaps really is. This may not start business growth on its own, but it certainly won’t hurt!
4. Be everywhere at once
And if you have managed to get your business growing – to the point that you’re looking to take the ‘local’ bit out of ‘local business’ – it’s time to start thinking about expanding. But your old office is full of your company’s stuff, and companies, as a rule, need stuff to function. Stuff like computers, and filing cabinets (actually, you don’t really need filing cabinets – many facilities have on-site document management services), and the actual products that you sell, and all of that won’t be at the new place.
In fact, we love storage (if you hadn’t guessed) but there’s no denying that a business operating out of only one unit is limiting itself. Even if you’re not opening a new office, what do you do when one of your roving sales hotshots doesn’t have the products he needs for a demonstration? With multi-site storage and offices you can expand quickly, easily, and without bankrupting your business by buying prohibitively expensive warehouses and premium office space. It’s an excellent way to increase profits – and minimise stress while doing so.
Multi-site storage allows a small business to spread across the country in no time.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for self storage business services, we happen to know a little bit about that. Call one of our specialists today!