How To Start A Storage Business From Scratch

How To Start A Storage Business From Scratch

Self-storage facilities, which assist people needing extra space to store their belongings for rent, saw an increase in business. The motivations for self-storage firms are the shortage of space in homes and offices and the desire to be able to keep things and forget about them. Here, we wish to underline that each of those self-storage facilities is a commercial enterprise. One can be highly profitable to own. There is considerably more to opening a self-storage facility than simply registering your firm with the State, so if this business concept appeals to you, read this brief guide. You can determine whether opening a self-storage facility is right for you once you have a more excellent knowledge of what it entails.

Why Do People Require Self Storage Units?

You can keep out-of-date cars, holiday decorations, artwork, furniture, toys, and appliances in a secure, spotless storage facility if you prefer to live in a home free of clutter. You might benefit from short-term storage during a move or refurbishment. If you have a location to put all that items until the new room is ready for use, moving your entire office in no time is simple. 

Some of the reasons for a self-storage unit are as follows:

  • Extra storage space – not all people have enough room at home to keep everything. They require a monthly self-storage rent to keep valuable items that they cannot keep at home.
  • Asset storage and inventory control – Companies rent self-storage units to have a location to temporarily store old but functional equipment and furniture. Some people use it to track and maintain their items.
  • Moving – Self-storage is also commonly utilized by individuals and businesses as temporary storage for their belongings to avoid complications when relocating.

Before you start the firm, you will need to conduct extensive study and preparation. You can consider the below pointers

1. Do Some Market Research.

Self-storage is a rapidly expanding segment of small companies and real estate, and if done correctly, it can be pretty profitable. Before investing significant time, energy, and money in starting your firm, you must get a thorough grasp of the industry to offer yourself the best opportunity. You should thoroughly understand the regional demand, regional competition, and the kind of expenses and returns you might be considering.

  • Start by looking up self-storage companies in your area online and in paper directories.
  • Look at the costs they charge, the capacity they have, and the services they can provide.
  • A region with many storage businesses may indicate high demand, but it may also suggest that the area is already well-served.
  • The best sources of knowledge unique to a given industry typically trade magazines and specialized websites.

2. Outline Your Objective.

You should make an effort to clearly state what you want to build once you have an understanding of the local storage market. Do you want to add to your income by starting a small business that you can operate from home part-time? Or are you interested in creating a more prominent company requiring you to spend a lot more time and money?

3. Calculate Your Startup Expenses.

You must evaluate your startup costs by coming up with some numbers before moving forward. These expenses also referred to as sunk costs, are ones you will incur to launch your business. It’s crucial to be sure you can gather the money initially. Startup charges should be kept apart from your continuing maintenance and operation costs. Your startup expenses can cover the first rent for the property or storage facility you’ll be utilizing, the price of hosting a website, and the advertising supplies you’ll need to establish your company.

Included expenses are:

  • Maintenance

Supplies, pest treatment, contracted services, machinery, a building’s doors, gates, elevator, and landscaping

  • Taxes

Real Estate taxes

  • Utilities

Electricity, gas, water, sewer, and waste expenses 

  • Insuranc

Business insurance, fire insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, sales and disposal insurance, client goods insurance, and employee theft insurance

  • Administrative expenses

Postage, office supplies, printing, computer equipment, and accounting and legal fees.

  • Advertising 

Direct mail, marketing, promotional products, and Yellow Pages advertising.

  • Operational

Truck operations, mileage, telephone, security services, computer software, tenant auctions, and equipment rentals.

  • Capital improvements 

New roof, asphalt repairs, etc.

4. Cost To Start A Self-Storage Company?

The cost of starting a self-storage business might be substantial. Depending on where you reside, the price per square foot for a typical single-story building when creating the apartments from the ground up might range from $25 to $50. The price of buying land is not included, and the cost per square foot for multi-story buildings will typically be higher. Depending on where you reside, multi-story buildings cost between $45 and $75 per square foot.

If building a cutting-edge facility is your main goal, you will need at least 70,000 rentable square feet and will pay between $50 and $70 per square foot, discounting the cost of the land. It implies that the cost of a cutting-edge facility will be around $3 million.

Modern self-storage facilities in prime locations may easily maintain occupancy levels of 85% to 95% all year round. It implies that your self-storage company should have a respectable profit margin.

5. Prepare A Business Plan. 

The most important document for your firm is the business plan. It will include all the thorough market research you have done, your expected costs, and your future business development objectives. A concise, complete, and reliable business plan is essential if you intend to ask for funding for your venture from an outside source. Online resources for self-storage company plans are readily available. The sections below should be included in your project:

  • An executive summary outlining your goals and essential elements for success.
  • Describe your company’s nature, size, location, and ownership structure.
  • A part describing the services your company will offer.
  • A summary of market analysis.
  • A detailed plan outlining your business’s marketing and implementation strategy.
  • An overview of the management structure and methodology used by the company.
  • A thorough financial strategy that includes predictions and costs for the first few years of the business.

6. Business Analysis

You will need to describe the type of storage business you are operating in your company analysis.

You might run one of the storage companies listed below, for instance:

  • Self-storage units can be moved about with ease thanks to this type of portable container.
  • Storage under climate control: This industry safeguards and preserves goods against damaging temperature and humidity ranges.
  • Vehicle storage is a service that lets consumers securely store different kinds of vehicles.
  • The Company Analysis portion of your self-storage business plan has to give information on the company in addition to describing the type of storage business you will run.

7. Create A Marketing Strategy Plan. 

Creating a detailed marketing strategy is the last crucial component of your business planning. There is no best technique to advertise a company; therefore, you must be adaptable and flexible in finding a strategy that works for you. You should endeavor to address a few crucial elements in your marketing plan at this early stage:

  • Market penetration refers to your strategy to break into the market and carve out a niche for your company.
  • Using direct communication with your customers is the topic of this section on communications strategy. Promotions, advertising, and printed materials like flyers may all fall under this category.
  • A growth strategy addresses your long-term plans for enhancing and extending your company.

8. Obtain Financial Assistance.

You may need to look for financial assistance if you are establishing a business from scratch to get it up and running and pay the startup charges. You will require a concise business plan and comprehensive financial data to submit a funding application to a financial institution. You will need to outline your financial requirements and how much money you require and be ready to respond to queries on these topics. Any foreseeable fundraising needs you could have during the following five years. How you plan to spend the money, including specifics on any capital costs or other expenses you want to cover. Any long-term financial strategies include selling your company or paying off debt.

9. Fund Sources For Self-Storage Facilities.

Personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and investors are the primary sources of finance for a self-storage firm. Banks will want to analyze your self-storage business plan to determine whether they can trust you to be able to pay back the loan and interest. The loan officer will want to see a professional plan in addition to your accurate financial information to get this confidence. They will feel more confident in your ability to run a firm successfully and competently if you have such a plan. Secure The Area And The Units.

10. Find A Place For Storage Business

The physical location where your customers will store their belongings is a crucial component of a self-storage business. Your first significant investment should be finding secure storage space in an easily accessible location, which you should carefully examine. Find a location that is both highly trafficked and appropriately designated for business growth. You can erect your storage containers on land you’ve bought and have the legal right to use them. You can buy directly from companies that build and transport storage units in various designs and sizes.

11. Make Sure You Abide By All Tax And Regulatory Requirements.

You must be legally recognized as a small business and under all applicable tax and legal requirements. To run a self-storage business, you might need to obtain specific state permits and licenses. To move forward, you must research both federal licenses and state licenses. A company like the US Small Firm Administration can offer you helpful counsel and direction on how to get through the bureaucracy for a new business. To ensure everything is handled correctly, you should contact a lawyer specializing in taxation and laws for small enterprises. For financial assistance, you can speak with your lawyer about the many grants and financial aid programs available for small businesses.

12. Employees For The Storage Business

Customer happiness is essential for business success. Because of this, meeting client needs has become a top focus for many businesses. Employers need to be aware that a happy and motivated employee is more likely to make important contributions to the company. It can lead to the company receiving more orders or even fresh suggestions for improving the product. A storage business must employ relevant staff to look after the company.

  • An operational manager to oversee the units
  • Workers to load and unload the goods
  • Drivers to pick up and transport the goods
  • Clerks
  • Security personnel

13. Essentials For The Storage Business

Equip your workspace with all the necessary hardware tools. Maintaining customer data and securing their items depend heavily on a storage company.

Commercial “materials” for your firm go beyond tangible items. You must also decide where to keep all of your crucial data, as well as any extra furnishings, supplies, tools, or marketing materials. Don’t forget to take into account the items you plan to store offsite and online.

  • Office chairs
  • Desks/tables
  • Storage Cabinets
  • Document cabinets
  • Document shredder
  • Computers (with the relevant software installed) displays, laptops, keyboards, and extra hard drives for computers
  • Cellular printers (with scanners and copiers)
  • Webcams, projectors, conference phones, etc.
  • Power supplies and batteries
  • Mini Trucks

14. A Storage Company Must Have Insurance.

General liability insurance is the most typical and complete kind of self-storage business insurance. It advises general liability insurance as your initial line of defense against a few of the most widespread and typical claims.

Among the hazards covered by general liability insurance are:

  • Bodily harm
  • Damage to property
  • Medical bills
  • Legal representation and ruling
  • Both a personal and commercial injury

Although it is not legally required, it is exceedingly unsafe for a self-storage company to operate without general liability insurance. You may be required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs if your self-storage company is sued (or more).

15. Create A More Substantial Internet Presence.

Virtually every business needs a strong internet presence to be successful. Your website should be present for your self-storage business, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Due to the nature of the company, prospective clients will be searching for a convenient, secure, affordable, and user-friendly website. Don’t confine your presence online to a clever website. Self-storage directories are prevalent.

You want your company to show up in the results when users search these databases.

Making your business visible through self-storage directories is a fantastic approach to do it without ranking highly in standard search engine results.

16. Contact Your Customers.

Once you have a robust online presence, you must step up your marketing by actively engaging your target audience. You can do this in numerous ways, including through mailings and brochures and by interacting with individuals on social media. You may anticipate that listings and online self-storage databases will be the primary sources of inquiries and consumers for a business like self-storage. You should consider how you reply to queries and communicate with customers. Ensure the person who answers the phone has a pleasant phone manner and is completely informed of all the essential details regarding the storage units. You won’t attract many consumers if the individual who answers the phone cannot provide an accurate price or indication of availability when a potential customer calls.

17. Consider An Expansion. 

When your company is up and going, you might think about growing it. This can entail recruiting personnel and adding more storage units. If you do want to hire staff, you must adhere to all relevant legal and regulatory requirements. This will entail setting up employer tax records and acquiring an Employer Identification Number. You must register new employees with your State and obtain the necessary insurance. To ensure all the documentation is completed correctly and all taxes and laws are followed, speak with your lawyer. You should be prepared to direct your self-storage broker to make a deal on your selected facility after conducting extensive due diligence and obtaining a full inspection report. Consider yourself fortunate if you can find an off-market offer to purchase a tiny storage facility. Established self-storage facilities can face severe competition from many bids. Work with your storage broker to create a compelling offer that will set you apart from other self-storage investors looking to acquire.


Ultimately, purchasing or constructing a self-storage facility will need time, energy, and money. However, in a constantly rising business, the payback might be considerable. There is plenty of evidence of its expansion. In several U.S. markets, self-storage occupancy and rental rates achieved all-time highs. Self-storage demand continues to rise as a result of some phenomena, including the overall shrinking of baby boomer households, millennials’ preference for renting flats over owning homes, and the continued mobility of American workers.

Self-storage has shown to be a recession-resistant industry over time.

In short, self-storage provides a plethora of reasons why purchasing an existing facility or constructing a new facility can open the door to excellent investment rewards.