Storage Insider: Tips from Industry Expert Sarah Manning

By Anna Roberts

Published 1 month ago

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Are you considering jumping into the world of self storage or building a self storage business?


In the competitive world of self storage, Sarah Manning, Managing Director of Secure Stores Nationwide, has carved a niche for herself. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Sarah's insights provide valuable guidance for any aspiring self storage entrepreneurs:


Secure Stores Nationwide launched at the beginning of 2021 and has since been a significant player in the self storage market, with 95% of its business being in this sector.


In a recent interview with Anna Roberts, CEO and founder of Explorage.com, the online marketplace for self storage, Sarah shared her journey into the world of self storage and provided valuable advice for those considering venturing into this industry.


Sarah’s Journey

Sarah shared her journey with Anna into self storage. She started 16 years ago when she joined her local container company shortly after leaving university. Her passion then grew for the industry, and eventually Sarah worked her way up the ladder to becoming a director of the business.


In 2016, the business was sold, and Sarah continued to work for the new owners for a few years before starting Secure Stores Nationwide.

 

Sarah shared with Anna that she loved the small business atmosphere of her new venture, because it allowed decisions to be made quickly based on what was best for the company and as well for its customers.

She also enjoys seeing the company expand and working in a team environment.


Think Big and Plan for Growth

For anyone who is considering starting out in the self storage industry, in particular a container-based self storage business, Sarah's advice is to think big, recommending a thorough approach that includes site selection, layout optimisation, and future scalability:


'I would say think big, because something I've noticed especially if someone's fresh into the industry and they haven't run a self store before. They can't picture in their mind understandably the thought of having 400 containers on their site and customers for them all. They just think well surely  it couldn't possibly get that big, but believe me, it does.'


She advises for potential entrants to consider a larger site to accommodate expansion plans and ensure structured operations from the outset.


Prioritise Quality and Customer Excellence

In terms of supplying the self storage industry and positioning her business, Sarah's commitment to quality and customer service is visible in her approach to supplying the self storage industry.

 

Sarah is dedicated to providing efficient, smooth, friendly, and helpful service, fostering trustful and long-term partnerships with her clients.


Sarah in her interview with Anna stressed the importance of building a partnership with customers by sharing relevant information, such as factory prices, to help them plan their spending.


The Covid-19 pandemic presented its own unique challenges for the self storage industry, including supply chain disruptions and rising factory prices.

 

However, Sarah's resilience and expertise enabled Secure Stores Nationwide to emerge from this period with renewed strength and knowledge, ready to adapt and thrive in the ever changing landscape of the self storage industry.


Innovative Solutions and Flexible Partitions

The increasing demand for 10-foot containers now calls for innovative solutions. The cost of these smaller units can be expensive, especially when they have to be shipped empty.


Secure Stores Nationwide has developed cost-effective alternatives like compartmentalised units and tunnel containers, offering more flexibility and value for money, pushing away from the traditional 10-foot containers.


Secure Stores Nationwide not only offers this innovative and cost-effective alternative solution, In addition, they provide a service including removable steel partitions from Kwik Fit Container Accessories, making it easier to divide up the space within the containers, a flexible solution that allows storage operators to easily adjust the size of their storage units as their needs change.


Stand Out from the Crowd

In the self-storage business, branding is crucial since first impressions count. Sarah noted in her interview with Anna the importance of consistency, underlining how important it is to maintain consistency in your branding so that your storage facility has a distinct and unified character.


Secure Stores Nationwide provide more personalisation options than just paint jobs. They can turn storage containers into eye-catching representations of your business that complement your overall style, whilst also strengthening brand recognition among customers.


Sarah also revealed some exciting news with Anna regarding the company's upcoming plans, such as the launch of new products like USC flat-pack insulated stores. These stores give a practical and affordable substitute for standard shipping containers.


Cost-Effective Way to Expand Reach

Unlike the traditional lead generation sites that charge exorbitant fees for listing services, Explorage.com takes a refreshing approach.


Storage operators can list their facilities on the platform completely free of charge, only paying a small commission when a successful lease is secured.


Explorage.com's cost-effective model allows you to focus on growing your business without the burden of upfront expenses.


Explorage.com also provides Remote Management services specifically for smaller and independent self storage operators who may want to hand over the day to day sales and operations of the site so they can focus on other things, such as another business, family or strategic growth.


We offer a range of services all provided by our friendly and experienced in-house team.


If you're interested in learning more about this service, contact our Network Manager Jaqui Jeffries at: 

jaquijeffries@explorage.com


You can watch Anna's full interview with the Sarah below:

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