IBidOnStorage; online auctioning with South African roots
In our newsletter we want to highlight the innovative storage world from all sides. After all, there are ongoing new developments and smart initiatives around the world that are worth sharing. In short, the start of a series of interviews with entrepreneurs from around the world. Very different, but what they all share is a great passion for self storage.
We kick off with an interview with Grant Daniel, director of IBidOnStorage , an online auction site for self-storage contents.
Tell us something about yourself
‘I was born in South Africa, am married and have two children; Emma aged six and Alex aged four. I trained as a chartered accountant, but the warehousing business is in my DNA, because it is our family business. I like to travel and golf when I can make time for it.’
How did you get into the storage business?
‘My father started a storage company in Cape Town, South Africa, in the mid-1990s. That auditing world just didn’t seem to be for me. I had always been fascinated by the storage industry and its potential for growth. You can get year-round income from it, and in times of economic downturn there is actually more need for storage.’
Why did you start iBidOnStorage?
‘After I took over the management of our family business, I was constantly annoyed by the problems of defaulters. I found the forced sale of abandoned estate to be quite risky. First, I didn’t like that there was very little transparency in the sales process and we were very dependent on what someone wanted to give for the estate.
Second, I faced a potential entrepreneurial risk. That played out when I couldn’t prove that I had tried to get the best possible price for the contents of the storage unit. It also always took a lot of time and money to clear out those storage units.’
‘I discovered that online auctions, specifically set up for the self storage industry, were successful in the mature self storage markets of the US, Canada and Australia. Online storage auctions account for most of the self-storage inventory left behind by renters. After all, they provide storage company owners with the best yield. In the process, they lower the entrepreneurial risk and owners spend much less time on administration.
Using the iBidOnStorage auction platform, bidders have 72 hours to clear the estate of self-storage spaces at their own expense. The process is completely transparent and all results can be downloaded when there is a legal proceeding.
What is your relationship with USC and what do you think of them and their containers?
‘I came across USC at a storage show and was then able to see their quality product first hand. As a self storage entrepreneur, I am always looking for ways to grow our business at the lowest possible cost. The advantages of being able to set up a new storage business faster than traditional methods really appealed to me. I have recently become more interested in growth through long-term lease arrangements. This allows you to return the containers at the end of the lease without having to write off the residual value.’
What would you most like to accomplish in five years?
‘My goal is for iBidOnStorage to become the standard when dealing with abandoned self storage contents in Europe and the UK. We currently have 7,000 bidders in the UK (www.ibidonstorage.uk) and nearly 1,000 in the rest of Europe (www.ibidonstorage.eu was not launched until September 2021).
We expect the number of bidders to increase structurally. This will lead to higher estate prices and a more controlled sales process. Our approach helps the industry minimize the entrepreneurial risks associated with selling these contents.
What are your expectations regarding the storage world for the next decade?
‘The demand for storage will continue to grow as the product/service becomes more familiar and accepted. Operators need only look to the U.S. storage industry. After all, this is also going to be the future of our self storage industry. I also expect very strong growth in Europe and the UK.’
Technology provides data
‘Technology will continue to play an important role within the self-storage world and storage facilities will become increasingly automated. Technology is providing operators with more and more data, which will improve their ability to make the right operational decisions.
Technology will be used to make the process as simple as possible for operators, but also more user-friendly for customers. I expect self-storage to become more accessible, to have a wider range of products, and for online booking and payment to become easier and easier. In the process, I predict that unmanned branches will become more widely accepted, especially in those places where labor is expensive.’
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