We would like thank the lovely folk at the PR agency Stefanius for this great story on trends developing within the world of self-storage. If you’d like to read more go to https://www.stefanius.co.uk/blog
More People are Becoming Self Employed
Prediction: Self Storage Operators will Invest in Increasingly Creative Ways to Meet Business Client Needs.
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘New Year, New Me’. Well, this year, get ready to hear ‘New Year, New Business’. According to research, Britain is a nation of ambition, with 57% of us wanting to start our own business in 2018. If Brits bite the business bullet as forecasted, self storage operators can expect to welcome more budding entrepreneurs into their facilities.
Traditionally, self storage facilities were home to surplus belongings, beloved heirlooms and colossal collections. Fast forward to 2018 and self storage is a very different place. Today, over 100,000 businesses use self storage in some way, occupying a whopping 42% of the 42.2 million square feet of storage space in the UK.
Can self storage facilities continue to meet this burgeoning trend? Chair of Magenta Self Storage, Mark Shaw, thinks that some changes will need to be made: “As our clientele shifts, so too must our self storage offering. To cater for the anticipated continued influx of entrepreneurs, self storage operators must get creative. Think state-of-the-art business spaces, think hot-desking, think collaboration.”
Farmers are Using their Unproductive Land in New Ways
Prediction: As the Year Progresses, More and More Farmers will Convert their Under-Utilised Space into Self Storage Provision.
The self storage industry is booming with Ollie Saunders, lead director of Alternatives, JLL reporting that “2017 saw the highest ever level of investment in the sector, with more than £350m of direct investment.” As a result, an increasing number of people are looking to enter the market.
Many farms throughout the country are experiencing hard times, with some facing record debts and threats of closure. To generate a steady flow of income, the more visionary farming businesses have begun to turn to self storage. One farmer who has been successfully running his own self storage business, Hall & Burge, for more than a decade is Sam Burge (pictured).
Sam explained: “What started as a favour for a friend has since turned into a thriving and lucrative side business, turning over in excess of six figures annually and potentially saving the family farm. By diversifying and turning part of our 450-acre Winchester farm into self storage space, the farm’s unproductive land and redundant buildings are now home to over 350 matt green containers, attracting customers from all over the UK.”
The General Public Struggle to Name Self Storage Brands
Prediction: Savvy Self Storage Operators will Focus More on Strategic PR to Differentiate Themselves.
According to the latest SSA UK annual industry survey, 70% of people could not name a single self storage brand despite there being more than 450 different self storage brands in the UK. The bulk of the industries’ marketing budget is spent on pay-per-click style advertising. Not only are costs steadily increasing for online advertising but it is not an ideal medium for maximising product awareness or brand recognition.
Rennie Schafer, chief executive of the SSA UK, explains: “In such a saturated market, it can be challenging for self storage facilities to stand out from the crowd. This is not helped by the rapidly increasing costs of online marketing. Over the last 12 months, we have noticed a definite shift in the number of self storage operators who are now considering strategic PR as a means to reach their customers in a cost-effective and memorable way.”
Robots are Filtering into Everyday Life
Prediction: Robotics will Have a Part to Play in the UK Self Storage Industry.
Love them or loathe them, robots are on the rise. As we enter 2018, experts forecast that, over the next two years, ‘more jobs may be at risk of automation’ (BBC). In light of this, it is concerning but unsurprising to hear that ‘40% of people aged between 18 and 34 are concerned that robots will take their jobs’ (Daily Mail).
Most industries are considering how robotics could revolutionise their business – from driverless trucks to fully automated vehicle construction. Although yet to break into the UK market, Wyca’s self-storage robot, Keylo, has already been put to work in facilities across Europe. Created to serve a variety of purposes ranging from extending the hours of opening to enhancing security, this robotic kiosk appears to be a popular addition overseas. But, will UK self storage operators follow suit and succumb to ‘bot fever’?
Owner of Store & Secure, Lucy Maidman, is uncertain how long it will take for robots to be commonplace in the UK. She said: “There are undoubtedly many benefits to automation in a self storage environment and I would be interested to see the results of any UK trial. However, customer service is at the heart of our industry and any adoption of new technology has to enhance the customer experience.”
Millennials are Struggling to Find Affordable Housing
Prediction: Without a Property to House their Belongings, Self Storage is Increasingly a “Must Have”.
A speech delivered by Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, late last year highlighted the troubles currently facing millennials, in particular, expensive housing (Huffington Post). Today, the average price for a house in the UK is eight times the average income, meaning that a couple would have to save up for a quarter of a century to have the funds for a deposit. Unable to make it onto the property ladder, millennials are instead choosing to pack their bags and travel (The Independent). This means that anything they can’t fit into their suitcase needs to go into storage.
Mike Wilson from Smart Storage said: “Millennials are less tied to property. Dubbed the ‘rootless generation’, young people are increasingly putting experiences before settling down. This is where safe, secure, flexible and accessible self storage comes into its own. This year, we are prepared for an influx of jetsetters, stowing away their valuables as they explore the world and their place within it.”
More Businesses are Embracing Automation
Prediction: To improve the customer experience, self storage operators will turn to automation.
Today, desires for hassle-free transactions are rising to the top of everyone’s priority list. However, currently, only a handful of self storage operators facilitate online check-in and account management for their customers. To cater to the evolving market’s needs, 2018 will see self storage managers embrace automation.
Anthony Adams (pictured), marketing director of Engage Management Services, commented: “The future of the consumer journey is being defined by companies like Amazon, who, using state-of-the-art technology make everyday tasks quicker and easier than ever. These technological advancements are increasingly becoming the norm, so much so, that customers now expect to be able to complete transactions on their terms, with minimum fuss and little to no interaction.
“As self storage is such a customer-centric industry, facility owners often invest in better and more innovative ways to make the customer experience as enjoyable and uncomplicated as possible. Adopting widespread automation is sure to be the next step toward achieving this goal. With automated systems in place, customers will be free to enjoy a speedy and personalised service.”