Entrepreneur Cheri Garcia invented a tanning bed that floats and was keeping her inventory of about 1,000 beds in a spare bedroom. But as her company grew and a major pool supply company agreed to carry her invention, Garcia needed to find another option for storing her inventory.
“If I were to get a warehouse, they would charge up the wazoo,” she said.
Instead, Garcia pays less than $100 a month for self-storage. “For me, it was a smart business decision,” she said.
“I have recommended before that a startup that deals in product use self-storage as their warehouse as opposed to getting a two-year lease on an expensive location,” Pryor said. “Having self storage for a startup or a small company gives you a whole lot of flexibility. Typically, you’ll sign a three-month lease or a month-to-month lease.”
In addition, companies can easily expand the storage space they need as they grow without having to go out and look for different warehouse space. Self-storage facilities are open to working with existing customers to meet their needs, Pryor said.
“You can say, ‘Hey, I need twice as much space as before,’ and they will help you to grow,” he said.
Brad Sherman, managing principal at StoreSmart’s Colorado locations, said his company has some business customers that lease as many as 40 to 50 units at a time to store inventory.
“They don’t want to go through the financial commitment to lease warehouse or office space for their inventory,” Sherman said. “Self-storage is a really good fit for them.”
Self-storage has been a solution for Jay Jones’ audio-visual company, TechKnowledgeEase, for 12 years. The Corsicana, TX-based company provides audio-visual equipment and services for meetings, special events and conventions.
“That was kind of the way the business plan was formed,” said Jones, the company’s president. “We’ve stuck with it for 12 years, and it’s worked well.”
Advice for Entrepreneurs
Both Garcia and Jones offer advice for entrepreneurs considering business storage units.
Both recommend that business owners talk with their insurers before moving their inventory to ensure any losses are covered. Garcia and Jones say they carry insurance on their inventory.
Jones said his storage unit was burglarized once, and he thinks his unit was targeted by someone who saw what was inside. His insurance policy covered the loss.
Additionally, you should weigh amenities that are important for protection of your inventory. Garcia said she needed a climate-controlled environment with an interior temperature of 70 degrees. While some facilities with that feature charge as much as $150 a month, Garcia opted for a site a bit farther from home to score a better rental rate. Security, lighting, access and on-site management are other amenities to consider.
Garcia said using self-storage also preserves a startup’s cash—an important consideration for entrepreneurs.
“Business owners get too excited and they want to go too big, too fast,” she said. “Then they end up going out of business because they didn’t do the smart thing.”
Photos courtesy of storexpressselfstorage.com and hollywoodstoragecenter.com