Getting into self storage: the sea container option

Jan 07 | 2022

Rennie Schafer from the Self Storage Association and Sarah Manning from Secure Stores Nationwide explain how to build a self storage business using sea containers.

Sarah Manning and Rennie SchaferAs the self store sector continues to grow across Europe, many in the removals industry are considering diversifying into self storage and claiming a slice of the action for themselves.  But with the cost of building a dedicated facility typically running into several million pounds, few have the resources to take that route, so could sea containers be the answer?

At The Movers & Storers Show’s seminar theatre last November, Self Storage Association CEO Rennie Schafer and director of container supplier Secure Stores Nationwide, Sarah Manning, gave a masterclass on how to build a successful self storage business using a modular approach using sea containers. Rennie kicked off the session, in his infectiously enthusiastic style, by explaining how container storage is a rapidly expanding sector of the self storage market and offers a slightly different experience for both customer and operator to a traditional purpose-built facility.

Rennie explained, “Traditional storage facilities usually have loading bays where customers have to park and then use lifts and stairways to reach their storage unit, whereas with container storage they can generally drive right up their unit to load and unload. They also offer customers a larger storage area at a more affordable price. From the operator’s point of view, the capital cost is lower and containers can be added as the business develops; it’s a great way to get started in the industry.”

Sarah Manning went on to talk about planning a self storage site and the importance of thinking ahead. “Before you start plonking down containers you need to think carefully about things like the type of vehicles that will be coming on to the site and make sure the aisle widths are sufficient: five metres is generally about right.  Remember, removal lorries will need to get down there and you’ll need enough room for the Hiab truck when you need more containers delivered,” explained Sarah. “Consider using a one-way system so that people don’t have to turn round so you can maximise your space. Companies like mine can help you plan your site and avoid problems as you expand your business.” ...

Photo: Sarah Manning and Rennie Schafer.

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