For several years now, the Self Storage Survey Association, the principal trade association representing self storage industry players in the UK, has conducted a survey to gauge the self storage industry’s developments and published results for use by industry players and regulators. The 9th consecutive annual report was published in May 2015 and includes survey responses from 73 companies owning 433 storage facilities. The full report includes data on industry outlook, rental rates, occupancy and other metric data and here we have summarised the overview provide here by kind permission of Wynnes Removals company in Brighton, UK..

Highlights from the 2015 report are as follows:

The self storage industry had a total turnover of £402 million in the year 2014. There are approximately 1022 storage units in the U.K and a self storage companies plan to add a further 1.3 million square feet of storage in various locations around the country. Most storage units are located in London but more and more centers are being built in other parts of the country to cater for local storage needs.

Industry outlook and Business Confidence

Business confidence continued to be high, none of the respondents indicated a downturn in profits and 18% expected improved business in 2015. Over 80% of respondents expected storage unit rental rates to increase faster than inflation within the next 12 months.

Rental Rates and Occupancy

Storage unit rents increased by 7.1% rising to £21 per square foot per year while occupancy rates stood at 70% for stores which had been in existence for 6 years or longer.

Other Metric Data

Survey results show that staff costs, marketing and management, and rates make up 70% of a storage business’s operating costs. However, different businesses apportioned the total amounts spent on staffing and marketing differently, and these figures also varied across different geographic regions and older companies. Storage stores employ an average of 2.87 persons with 76% being on full time and 24% being employed part time.

Marketing and customer conversion

For self storage companies, the internet is playing a greater role in attracting customers to the organization. More people now use the internet to source company information and make enquiries than they do the yellow pages or other traditional communication media such as telephones and newspapers. 60% of people searching for a self storage service used the internet to get more information about the company of their choice. Customer conversion rates from enquiries stood at 31%.

Expansion and growth

The global financial crisis stifled growth in the self storage business for four years. Less than 30 new sites were opened during this period. Further, sourcing new sites especially in high demand areas like central London has proved to be quite difficult. However, many stores remain optimistic about expansion, and the companies sampled plan to develop 30 more self storage sites by the end of 2018.

In spite of the optimism by storage companies, survey findings indicate that 15% of respondents have never heard of self storage, 40% are aware but have no idea what the service offers, 36% have a reasonable idea what the service offers and 9% are very well versed about self storage. The survey also sought to discover the demographic of those most likely to use a self storage service and the results are as follows:

Age Group Likelihood of Using Self Storage

  • 18-24 19%
  • 25-34 16%
  • 35-44 14%
  • 45-54 13%
  • 55+ 6%

Students were found to be the most likely users of a storage service.

Brand Awareness

67% of respondents could not name any self storage brand. Similarly, 61% of people did not know of any self storage services in their area.

Advertising and Enquiries

The most effective way to gain customers attention turned out to be the location of a storage store on a busy road. Outdoor advertising, word of mouth and internet searches were also effective though not as popular. However, customers who needed to find out more about a storage facility on their own were more likely to turn to the internet for information, visit a site nearby site or consult a family member. Of those wishing to contact a self storage store, calling the store directly, visiting the store and sending an email proved to be the most popular methods.

Price expectations

55% of respondents underestimated the cost of a self storage service while 31% had no idea what the cost would be.

Based on the findings of the self storage survey, there are several actions that a business can take in order to benefit from this growing industry:

  1. 1. Tailor your marketing campaign to target the demographic that most consumes self storage services. From the responses above, your will be most successful if you target persons aged 18-24, who are avid internet users and who require storage for short term periods of up to one year.
  2. 2. Invest in good customer service and store design. Word of mouth is one of the more popular ways that prospective customers find out about your business. If you take care of the customers you already have they are more likely to refer others to your business. Increase awareness of self storage to the public.
  3. 3. To increase your store’s visibility, ensure to select locations that are near main roads or suburban roads. Further, invest in proper signage to direct people to your store.
  4. 4. More and more people are using the internet to find information about self storage services. Developing a good, easily navigable website is one of the better ways to generate interest for your business, direct people to your store and convert a good number of them into regular customers.

There are good growth prospects for the self storage industry in the UK. Demand for self storage facilities is likely to increase in the next few years for several reasons including increased divorce rates, the empty nest effect as children move out of home and parents decide to downsize, and an improved housing market which results in people buying homes and increasing their demand for storage. Any business ready to implement the strategies outlined above should be able to tap into this growing market and reap benefits from this 400 million pound industry.

View more findings from the report at Wynnes Removals website.