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August 8, 2023
One of my earliest jobs was scanning old prescriptions into the computer system at a pharmacy.
I finished the first box (just ten thousand or so) and asked my boss how we disposed of the old prescriptions now that we had digital copies.
She laughed and told me to just put it back on the shelf - we were legally required to keep those prescriptions for the next ten years!
The digital copies were just for convenience.
About half of our back room was filled with boxes of prescriptions. That was space we couldn’t use for merchandise, medicine, office supplies, or anything else.
We needed a storage unit. And so do thousands of other medical businesses, like doctors' offices, pharmacies, therapy practices, clinics, PT, etc. Businesses may store records for any number of reasons - healthcare documentation being just one.
This is a great opportunity for storage facilities! And, it’s a potential unexplored source of demand for storage.
Commercial document storage (or record storage) requires a few special amenities, though. Documents need to be safe - safe from the elements, safe from thieves, and safe from time.
We’ll share the amenities you need to offer, as well as a few marketing tips to help you add commercial storage to your business!
Renting out storage units to local businesses - whether for document storage or other types of commercial storage - can bring you a lot of revenue!
According to the 2023 SSA Demand Study, businesses pay more for storage units, rent larger storage units, and rent for longer - all fantastic qualities to find in a tenant!
Also, if you’re renting storage space to businesses for legally required items, you can be pretty sure they’re going to pay rent.
To top it all off, adding commercial storage simply creates more demand for your services. If you’re running low on demand, consider expanding your marketing efforts to local businesses - especially healthcare businesses.
Storing records isn’t exactly the same as storing furniture. Traditional storage units with no real amenities aren’t the best choice for document storage - you need something more.
Businesses are legally required to keep these records. That’s why they need you in the first place. It also means the businesses would be in legal jeopardy if something goes wrong!
Security is one of the most important amenities for commercial storage, especially documents and records. If your potential tenants don't think you can keep their documents safe, they aren’t going to rent with you.
So, when you’re marketing your storage units to local businesses, lead with your best security features! If you’ve got a coded gate, barbed-wire fencing, and security cameras, make sure potential renters know about it.
Consider adding individual storage unit alarms if you don’t have them already. Unit alarms can be added to your whole facility or just to a few storage units at a time (though the alarm company may charge a flat fee regardless of the number of alarms you buy).
These can give your tenants confidence that your facility will keep their vital records safe.
Access is also very important for commercial storage. Some of our operators provide 24/7 access specifically to the businesses that are renting from them. Your self storage software should allow you to assign different levels of access to different codes - if it doesn’t, you may have to upgrade to better gate software!
Other operators find 24/7 access a big draw for any tenants, not just commercial tenants. Tenants don’t come by after hours very often, but it reassures them to know that they could if they needed to.
Climate control is the third of the vital document storage amenities. Heat and humidity can ruin documents over long periods of time. If the documents get moist during periods of high humidity, they might mold or mildew.
Climate control is more important to long-term business rentals than it is to residential customers because they plan on storing for longer. Residential renters think they’re only going to rent for a few months (even though they often end up staying much longer) - business storage renters know that their documents are going to be in your facility for years.
As with the other two, you’ve got to make sure any potential document storage tenants know what you offer! They may not know what they need until you show them.
When I worked at the pharmacy, we never considered moving our boxes of documents to a storage unit. We were required to keep them, so we kept them!
Part of marketing your document storage is ensuring that your local businesses know that you are an option.
You can also make sure businesses know that you’re happy to work with them! If they have particular needs, the right bit of wording can reassure them that you’ll meet those needs.
If your self storage website is your online storefront, you’ve got to make sure that storefront advertises all your services!
When you start marketing yourself to local businesses, put some mentions of that in prominent places on your website. List those amenities we talked about above - as well as why anything looking for document or record storage might want them.
Any business owners that see your site will start thinking about the boxes of records clogging up their storeroom.
Some of our operators have outreach marketing programs that see their managers stopping by local businesses, introducing themselves, talking about the referral program, and maybe leaving a plate of cookies behind.
This is great to spread knowledge about your business and it’s also a great chance to offer your services!
Of course, they’re busy (just like you’re busy), so you don’t need to make a big production about it. Be friendly, let them know how you can help, leave something tasty, and get out!
Leave business cards or a flyer about your referral program so they have a good way to find your name and number later on, when they’ve got time to think about it.
Just like when you’re marketing new technology to your self storage tenants, you’ve got to choose your words carefully when you talk about your document storage amenities.
Some amenities are perfectly clear - 24/7 access, secure, surveillance cameras. Others may mean different things to different people - climate control or smart units. If you’re marketing amenities that the average person may not know, be sure you’re marketing them by highlighting the benefit.
Your climate-controlled self storage units prevent mold, mildew, and heat damage.
You smart units have keyless access. Individual alarms will notify the business owner when the unit is accessed.
Part of your job is anticipating the problems your customers might run into - if they store their documents with you and they all get ruined, that’s bad business all around!
Document storage is a great way to expand your potential customer base - especially if you’re in an area that has lots of businesses.
Your location is one of the most important facets of your facility. If you’re in a really rural area with no businesses around, document storage won’t ever become a vital part of your business.
On the other hand, if you’ve got businesses with extra documents and records that need storage, you can offer them cheaper storage space than anyone else!
Businesses rent for longer, rent larger units, and rent high-tier units - meaning they pay more for them. If you’ve got the premium self storage units that local businesses are looking for, make sure they know it.
Looking to learn more? Check these out!