The essential storage checklist for small business owners

Editor’s Note: This guest post from Drew Davies touches on an interesting topic for small business owners that I’d never thought of before…storage. I’m sure those of you for whom this is an issue will find this article of value.

Securing the best and most cost-effective storage can make real difference to a small business looking to expand without forking out massive overheads. There are many things to think about, however, when it comes to effective storage, and it can often be a daunting task. To make the process easier, we’ve created an essential storage checklist to help make sure you get the right storage for your requirement:

1. How important is location? The first step is to evaluate proximity – will you need to travel to your storage space regularly and if so, is it better to have it close by? Also consider deliveries – it will be much harder for trucks and lorries to find a warehouse that’s off the beaten track. If you’re working from home – an eBay seller say – it might be productive to have your storage space close by – or find a place you can in work in at the same time (see below). And if you’re turning around stock, proximity to a post office might also be a consideration.

2. Can vehicles access the loading area? Even a small delivery might arrive on a tractor-trailer, so ensure your storage space has sufficient loading space. Also look out for any steps that might cause loading issues. For heavier things like equipment or pallets, pallet trolleys or trucks might be needed – flag this with your potential storage provider to see if they have any. If not, there might be other businesses in the storage space that have pallet trolleys you can use. Self storage facilities have pallet tracks, and often a forklift, but check with the manager before the delivery to make sure the registered forklift driver is on-site when you need them (there might also be a small charge).

3. When an alarm goes off at 3 a.m. at your storage facility, who goes to check it? Security is important, but it can be costly. Evaluate the level of security you need (higher for expensive items) and make sure to ask basic questions like who else has access to the building, and who responds to tripped alarms?

4. How much overheads are you prepared to pay upfront? Cost is obviously vital, and it varies. With traditional warehouse storage, you’ll need to pay a deposit and business rates, utilities, security and a service charge. Self storage usually comes in one inclusive cost and removes the need for paying most of these upfront fees (security will be included). You might get better deals the longer you sign for, but be careful not to be locked into a long contract that could eat away your earnings. Discuss what happens if you decide to leave your storage facility early, or want to extend.

5. Can you receive mobile phone signal? Nobody running a business wants to be “off grid” – make sure your storage room isn’t lined with lead or in a concrete bunker. At a self storage facility, ask to see rooms by the entrance – they most often have the best signal, and if you can get a signal, you can also use a dongle for handy Internet.

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Drew Davies writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. For more information about how storage can help your business, see the business storage section of their websit

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