Is storage space rental customized?

Storage units come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you offer it in storage units, containers or moving boxes. What do you do if the required space is already leased and no other is free?

When I started as an account manager at USC, I first wanted to learn more about storage in general and the Dutch self-storage market in particular. For this, I visited trade shows and did research on different storage concepts and products.

I decided to visit several storage companies with the story that I was moving in together and so I wanted to have my entire contents, including a motorcycle, stored. I had no experience in self-storage so all these companies looked the same to me. So I also expected the types of units, sizes and prices offered to me to be similar. Nothing could be further from the truth….

Three storage locations, big differences

At the first storage company I came to, for example, you can store your motorcycle and your contents in the same unit, but you are not supposed to drive your motorcycle through the building every day. Then you already don’t feel welcome, right? I, at least, don’t.

Another provider advised me to purchase two separate units, one for my motorcycle and one for my contents. This is because of the smell of the motorcycle, which could soak into my furniture. This quickly became much more expensive than the first option. Especially since both units were quite large, my motorcycle can be in a small unit.

At the third location, a fine unit was available for my belongings, but the motorcycle had to be in a separate room along with other motorcycles. So here he was not in a lockable unit and I did not like this.

When I thought about it later at home and put all the quotes side by side, one thing immediately struck me. When I went out to visit these companies, I thought, ‘All my stuff should just go into a unit that’s easily accessible from the outside and be done.’ But after getting all this different advice, question marks all came up. Just what is the best way to store my stuff?

At the first company I didn’t feel comfortable, I want to be able to take my bike whenever I want without expecting weird looks. With the second provider, I felt that they simply wanted to rent me as much square footage as possible. At the third location, I didn’t like that my bike would have to go into a common area.

Not customer-oriented

I noticed that all three storage providers were so preoccupied with their “standard tour” and their “standard pitch,” that very few questions were asked of me. If I had been asked more questions, they might have understood my situation better and made me feel that they had the best solution in place for me.

Everyone leases their space in their own way and trains their staff to do so. Is it good to have a standard procedure with a walk-in client or is it better to sit down with the client? Ask these some questions and based on them, how will you guide a customer around and what will you offer them? I would think the second option “hits the mark” more often. But what do you do when the space the client needs is not available? Are you going to offer multiple small units? Do you recommend a fellow company?

I am very curious about the different opinions on this topic, please feel free to talk to me if you would like to exchange views on this.

Mark Elsendoorn, USC account manager