Unused office furniture, old equipment, excess inventory, product samples, office supplies, seasonal decorations, electronics and piles of archived paperwork tend to pile up over time, making day-to-day business operations more difficult. Public self storage units can provide convenient extra square footage at significantly less cost than commercial or warehouse space.
Many business owners make use of mini self storage not just for long-term, but also short-term solutions:
• During expansions, redecorating remodeling or downsizing your business
• When staging an office space to sell
• During relocations to help keep things running smoothly
• Storing seasonal furnishings such as outdoor kiosks, patio furniture, grills, etc.
• In preparation for trade shows / conventions
• Storing excess inventory for the holiday season
These tips will help you maximize your investment both short and long term:
Selecting a self storage unit and facility
1. Determine the amount of space needed – Using an inventory list (see Tip #4 below), calculate the square footage you will need. Use Extra Space’s size estimator. Your storage needs may require one large storage unit, or several smaller storage units strategically located within an area.
2. Compare cost per square foot – Renting a self storage unit is generally quite a bit cheaper than leasing retail, office or warehouse space. When every square foot can be used for profit, for example in retail or restaurant space, the savings can be even greater.
3. Look into climate control – Climate control uses central air conditioning and heat to keep the temperature and humidity level within the unit similar to the temperature in your office. It’s a necessary extra cost if you will be storing computers, copiers, printers, scanners and other electronic devices. Climate control is also important when storing furniture, important paperwork or pharmaceutical samples… or anything else that may be damaged by extreme heat, cold or humidity.
4. Choose a location within the facility – Balance convenient access with cost savings. If you will be accessing the unit regularly, consider a location closer to the entrance which may cost a bit more. Garage-door-style storage sheds and storage units that are climate-controlled will usually cost more than other units as well.
Preparing to store in a public self storage unit
5. Keep an ongoing inventory – Make a list of all of the items you’ll be storing in your unit, and consider keeping a running inventory on a laptop, PDA or website that any employee who accesses the space can update easily. This not only helps with staying organized, but is important for insurance purposes.
6. Store documents and data safely – Always back up data using a couple different methods, and store backups in separate geographic locations. Fire safes should be considered for storing critical data and original documents. Password-protected CDs or DVDs can be used to store copies of documentation.
7. Pack electronic equipment properly – If planning to store computers and other electronic business equipment over the long term, avoid wrapping them in plastic which traps moisture, encouraging mildew and mold growth. Pack smaller devices with paper towels or newspaper in boxes, and use a cotton sheet or canvas as a cover for larger equipment to prevent dust buildup and allow for air circulation.
8. Go vertical – Floor-to-ceiling shelving can be used in storage units to make good use of space (as long as they are not attached to walls, floors or ceilings). Stand office furniture on end for more vertical space as well.
Getting the most out of your mini self storage facility
9. Save on moving transportation – Some storage facilities have trucks available for rent or free use.
10. Deliveries – Most facilities will receive deliveries on your behalf, notify you of the arrival, and hold packages for 24 hours. A standing “hold harmless” arrangement allows the facility staff to provide access to delivery companies who can then unload shipments directly into your storage unit.
11. Billing – Invoicing services are available from most storage facilities for convenient billing.
12. Be sure you’re insured – Commercial insurance policies may not provide sufficient coverage for stored items, or additional coverage may be expensive. Storage facilities frequently offer insurance that offer low cost / low deductibles and in-transit coverage that can function as supplemental coverage with a separate deductible.
Self storage units can help keep things running smoothly during the ups and downs of business growth. Using these tips, and asking your storage facility manager for additional guidance, will allow you to focus less on storage over the long run, and more on your primary tasks.