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A Guide to Business Self Storage Units

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

11th Jan 2022 (Last updated on 19th Jan 2022) 14 minute read

Whether you’re a new business just setting up or a long-running company looking for more space, using business storage units can be a great and practical solution to help your growing brand. From storing additional stock to vital documents, there are many ways businesses can utilise self storage units.

Self storage offers convenient and affordable spaces, but it’s important to note that they can’t legally function as an official office as they are not approved for occupancy. However, they can be extremely useful in other ways, especially if your business is primarily online. Whether you require short or long-term storage solutions, self storage can be a very practical and flexible option.

Compare My Move work with several experienced removal experts to create insightful guides that answer all the vital questions you have concerning self storage and how it can aid your business. In this article, we will look at the many different ways businesses can utilise storage units and what you would need to know to successfully run a business from a self storage unit.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why Use Self Storage For Your Business?
  2. Uses of Commercial Storage
  3. How Much Space is Needed?
  4. Businesses That Use Self Storage
  5. What You Need to Run a Business From a Self Storage Unit
  6. Can You Use a Commercial Storage Unit as an Office Space?
  7. How to Pick a Storage Company For Your Business

Why Use Self Storage For Your Business?

1. Cost

Renting a self storage unit will often work out cheaper than renting additional office space or a traditional warehouse. According to previous research, the average storage costs in the UK are £23.94 per square foot. However, this will vary depending on your location, the size of the storage unit and your specific requirements.

There are also typically no hidden costs, such as heating or other bills, when using self storage as everything is included in one price.

2. Flexibility

As businesses grow and change, the need for flexibility becomes greater. Using self storage can be cheaper than renting additional office space and the contract can be a lot more flexible to work with. Commercial storage units can be used long or short-term, allowing you to store your items temporarily.

3. Convenience

Depending on the company you’re with, you should be able to access your unit any time during their opening hours or even 24-hours a day. Most facilities will be located near a major road or rail network and will offer free onsite parking, making it convenient for local customers.

There will likely also be a number of convenient services available such as additional shelving, vans to collect and return items or even cleaning services.

4. Security

One of the major benefits of using self storage is the level of security that comes with the facilities. By using a self storage unit, you can trust that you’re storing your items in a clean, dry and well-protected facility that is free from pests and mould. Most storage companies will have state of the art security systems, 24-hour CCTV and modern intruder alarms. You will also have the added peace of mind of knowing that you are the only key holder to the unit.

5. Deliveries on Your Behalf

Most storage companies will have staff onsite to receive deliveries on your behalf. This can be a very efficient addition to your business as it ensures you don’t have to wait around in one location for any future deliveries.

Many larger storage facilities will also offer a receipt and dispatch service to aid your business allowing you to potentially turn your unit into a mini distribution centre. This means that you can not only store your inventory in the commercial storage unit, but you can also receive and distribute deliveries from one cost-effective location.

6. Accessibility

Some companies will offer both indoor and outdoor units, meaning the level of accessibility you require can be accommodated. For smaller, external units, there is the possibility of simply driving up to the facility and accessing your items, ensuring a more efficient process.

If you have a higher volume of valuable items to store, you can instead choose an internal unit that will be easily accessible but with an added level of security and the promise of dry, mould-free containers.

7. Forklift, Pallet Trucks and Trolley Usage

Some storage companies, especially larger facilities such as those that offer warehouse space for rent, may provide the use of their forklifts, pallet trucks and trolleys. This is especially helpful for companies storing larger items as it’s one added expense checked off the list.

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Uses of Commercial Storage

When considering commercial storage units, you also have to consider which type would be best suited to you and your company. Depending on your reason for using the facility, you may not simply want a traditional self storage unit.

1. Archiving Storage

Archiving storage is a secure space to store documents, data or any files you require. If your business deals with a lot of hard files or data, this could be the perfect solution to free up some space. Archive storage rooms should be fireproof, waterproof and completely dry/clean to fully protect your documents. Law firms, retailers, online sellers and event organisers are just some of the roles that would benefit from this type of commercial storage.

Organisation is key with many of the legal documents you may want to store so it’s useful to have a safe space to accurately file away your paperwork. There will be a variety of unit sizes available to suit your requirements, with many being fitted with smoke and fire alarms. Most companies will offer clearly-labelled boxes, constant CCTV coverage and the benefit of the customer being the only key holder.

2. Stock Storage

Stock storage will be a great solution for your company if you don’t have room for existing stock, are a small but growing business looking for more space or your stock is seasonal. It’s also a practical solution for companies that run multiple sites and need somewhere central to access.

3. Warehouse Storage

Warehouse storage is an option for those wishing to store a high volume of items or for those looking for large furniture storage. Large-scale warehousing could include facilities that are measured at 1,000 sq ft or over. The units should be dry, clean and completely secure with state of the art security systems.

There are limitations to consider when purchasing warehouse space, such as being required to take out a commercial mortgage. By renting warehouse storage instead via a professional storage company, you are ensuring more flexibility but with a space that still contains the appropriate level of security.

4. Lock Up Garages

Another option to consider is the use of lock-up garages. Whilst garages for rent can come in a variety of sizes, they are typically used by smaller businesses. You will have the option of choosing an internal or external unit that can be easily accessed. This type of commercial storage is a very flexible solution that accommodates both short and long-term use.

Whilst local landlords and councils will offer garages for rent, for added security, it would be more beneficial to obtain a lock-up for rent by an official storage company. Larger companies will ensure the facilities are constantly monitored with active CCTV, physical guards and a range of intruder alarms.

5. Packaging and Sending Stock

Another way to utilise your business storage unit is to organise your deliveries to and from the unit. Companies can arrange their deliveries to arrive at the facility where a member of staff will then accept it in your absence.

The availability of this service will depend on the storage company you choose to rent from, but it can be very beneficial to you and your team.

How Much Space is Needed?

According to The Self Storage Association UK Annual Industry Report, 32% of businesses that use self storage units in the UK require units sized at 11-50 sq ft, whilst 24% occupy 51-100 sq ft of space. However, this will vary depending on your business and your reason for requiring the unit.

Purchasing a commercial storage unit can be a big decision for any company, especially in terms of finance. This is why it’s essential you’re completely sure you need the extra space. There are a variety of storage sizes, styles and sites to choose from, as well as additional services that could aid your business.

If you’re looking to purchase a 25-50 sq ft unit, know that this size facility is approximately the same size as an average garden shed. You should be able to store up to 60-120 medium boxes or 1 room’s worth of furniture. A unit sized at 100 sq ft is the equivalent of an average single-car garage with enough space to store the contents of a 2-bedroom house.

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Businesses That Use Self Storage

Whilst it’s most practical for online companies, you’d be surprised at how many businesses can benefit from using commercial storage.

According to data by The Self Storage Association UK (SSAUK), 83% of businesses that use self storage in the UK have less than 10 staff, meaning many start-up companies prefer this method of adding space. However, whether you’re a new business or an experienced and recognised company, everyone needs space to work. Here are just some of the types of businesses already using self storage:

1. Online Sellers

Whether you’re an independent online retailer or an aspiring Amazon seller, self storage units can be a great solution for storing stock. Clothing, games, sporting goods, books - if the item is not prohibited, it can be packed up for self storage and then delivered to your customers from the unit.

The latest SSAUK industry report calculated that 23% of businesses using self storage units in the UK are retail-based companies, making it the most popular occupation.

2. Etsy Crafters

One online store that has seen major growth in recent years is Etsy. If you have a hobby that has attracted attention online, then getting ready to mass-produce your products will require additional space.

A commercial storage unit will provide you with somewhere to safely store your equipment and products. Most self storage companies will also provide additional shelving for a fee to help you get organised.

3. Resellers and Flippers

Whether you’re reselling vintage items or flipping a house, you’ll often need a lot more space to store your items, tools and equipment. Keeping everything at the office or at home isn’t always a practical option, so a self storage unit can be seen as a very convenient solution for many.

4. Furniture Sales

Any type of business selling stock can benefit from self storage, but this is especially true for those holding larger products such as furniture. These types of items can take up a lot of vital space so a commercial storage unit could be the perfect solution when looking to protect your additional stock.

5. Tradesmen

Tradesmen with quickly growing businesses will often require additional space to keep their tools and equipment. Business storage units are incredibly secure and usually come with constant CCTV monitoring as well as a number of alarms. It is a much safer option compared to leaving your valuables in the van overnight.

6. Fashion Designers and Tailors

If you’re looking for space to store tools and materials, commercial self storage could be the answer. Designers and tailors can use business storage units to set up cutting tables and mannequins for styling and assembling designs.

7. Events Companies

Both regional and national events organisers will use storage units as a place to keep advertising equipment, props, paperwork and whatever else they require. As the job often requires a lot of travelling, it can be helpful to have a central location for these items.

However, the flexibility of a self storage service also means organisers have the opportunity to move items across the country to other units if necessary.

8. Sports Clubs

Organisers that run after-school or breakfast clubs can use a storage unit as a central location to store their equipment. As many self storage units can be accessed 24/7, it provides a flexible arrangement should you be arranging sports clubs after school and working hours.

9. Charities

Charities across the UK often require the aid of a business storage unit to protect donated stock until it can be re-sold. An archive storage unit will also help secure important documents such as Gift Aid receipts and turnover records.

10. Market Stall Holders

Whether you regularly attend car boot sales, pop-up shops, auctions or are a market stall holder, self storage can be the perfect solution to protect your equipment and stock. Storage units can even help you organise paperwork if you safely file away your records of sales, purchases and turnover.

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What You Need to Run a Business From a Self Storage Unit

When setting up your commercial storage unit, there are a few factors to consider to ensure you can successfully run your business. These include:

1. Furniture

Depending on the size of the business storage unit, you may want to purchase basic furniture to help you work more comfortably and get organised. Whether you’re using it to file away vital paperwork or as a base to complete some quick tasks, you could add filing cabinets, chairs or any of the necessary equipment you need to finish the job.

If you’re using the unit to package orders and label boxes, you will also need a working printer and maybe even a deliveries table. It’s also recommended that you keep a number of boxes and packing materials to hand for a more efficient process.

2. Shelving and Storage

Additional shelving, racks and other forms of storage could also be added to make the most of the space provided. According to the latest SSAUK industry report, 10% of self storage customers required shelving as an additional service, making it the second-highest service to be requested in the industry.

This will make a lot more items easier to access and can greatly improve your organisation. Some storage companies will actually offer shelving for an additional cost.

3. Electricity

Not all self storage units will be fitted with electrical sockets. If this is the case, don’t forget to organise all your electronic devices before visiting the unit. Make sure everything is fully charged beforehand and don’t forget to take extra batteries should you need them.

4. Wifi

Along with electricity, many businesses will also require wifi within their storage unit. Whether your company is fully online or you simply need to access certain apps or emails, wifi can be an essential factor for any business, which is why it’s another item to add to your commercial storage unit checklist.

It’s important to note that some storage companies will offer free wifi, but this will vary. You will also have the option of using your mobile’s hotspot to access the internet, but this can be expensive depending on your contract.

Can You Use a Commercial Storage Unit as an Office Space?

Storage units cannot legally function as office space as they have not been approved for occupancy. This means that you cannot meet clients at your unit or officially set up your desk. However, they can be utilised in other ways.

Commercial self storage units are a great place to safely store inventory, office supplies and documents. Whilst you cannot use it as your official office space, it can be somewhere to complete quick tasks such as anything admin-based.

However, some larger storage companies like The Big Yellow Storage Company will have the option of renting out official office spaces. These can legally act as office spaces for you and your team and will come with a flexible lease and secure environment.

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How to Pick a Storage Company For Your Business

According to the Self Storage Association, 46% of customers in 2021 found their chosen self storage store through a simple internet search. A further 33% found their chosen company through local knowledge of the area whilst 12% used a referral from a friend or family member.

You can also use trusted comparison sites to compare storage quotes and ensure you’re connected with reliable and verified companies. Here at Compare My Move, every partner that enters our network must be put through our strict verification process and follow our code of practice. This ensures you’re matched with the best professionals in the business who will always work to the highest of standards.

When you do find an appropriate storage company to consider, there are a few things you should think about before committing to a contract. These include:

  • Proximity and ease of access
  • The use of internal or external units
  • Overall cost
  • Security - CCTV coverage, alarms used, number of security guards on-site, etc.
Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.