Franchise Spotlight: Storage

With property prices continuing to soar, this promises a bright future for the storage franchise sector.

Storage franchises often fall into the self-storage category. Self-storage providers securely store personal items for consumers as well as stock and equipment for businesses, usually in individual units within large warehouses.

Demand for secure, flexible, cost-effective storage is booming. Occupancy on lettable space rose to 76.1% in 2018 – up 3% from 2017, according to The Self-Storage Association UK Annual Industry Report.

If you already own warehouse space, or other vacant commercial space that can be repurposed, you could leverage your asset to generate recurring revenue via a tried and tested franchise model.

Sector overview

  • There are more than 1,500 self-storage sites in the UK – outnumbering McDonald’s outlets –amounting to around 44.6m sq ft of storage space
  • With a growing population and ever-more possessions, combined with shrinking modern housing suggests growth will continue
  • Businesses especially appreciate flexible, cost-effective storage - over a third of self-storage space is used by business customers. Businesses also face high in-house storage costs, in terms of commercial rents. So, self-storage offers a flexible, low overhead storage solution with no business rates.

Established in the US since the 1960s, the self-storage industry didn’t cross the Atlantic until the early 1980s – and yet the UK market is far more mature than the rest of Europe. The UK has a 48% market share of the entire European market.

There are several reasons for growing UK demand from both businesses and the general public – especially in large towns and cities.

The scarcity and therefore soaring cost of land has seen new-build houses shrink, more people living in flats with minimal storage space and even older houses divided into multiple abodes.

Self-storage also generates custom from collectors or those seeking clutter-free homes without having to abandon belongings.

Start-ups and online retailers in particular value the flexibility to scale up or scale down their storage expenditure as their business grows or falters. It could be short-term hire for surplus stock or long-term hire for archiving or rarely used office equipment.

Is a storage franchise for me? 

The typical storage franchise model offers plenty of recurring revenue, with many customers storing items or stock for long periods, while others happily return frequently for short-term hire with a trusted brand.

Many franchises offer the chance to start small and scale up quickly as you grow. And the prospects for growth look good: the population is sure to grow but the amount of land to build on will only shrink.

All this spells a bright future for the industry – so if you’re seeking a sure bet, you could do worse.

In terms of what the franchisor might want from you, the following generally applies:

  • Ambitious, entrepreneurial mindset with strong business acumen
  • A storage franchise can be operated through owner-operator or management franchise models, depending on the brand
  • There is minimal investment if you already own warehouse space
  • Experience this in sector is usually not required

The structure of storage franchises

If this sounds like an appealing sector, then franchising is arguably your best way in.

Franchises are prominent among these larger operators, with the financial muscle to help you secure significant floor space in prominent positions on major arterial roads.

They also have the spending power to invest in innovations that bring down price and raise service standards.

Innovations that include collecting, storing and delivering household and commercial goods in containers; using redundant buildings for storage (one franchise uses farm buildings); and using stackable storage pods that reduce space wastage. Up to 48% of space in a self-storage warehouse is lost to access corridors and height restrictions.

Established for many years or decades and built with sizeable marketing budgets, the best franchises have built recognised brands.  Customers often store items with considerable financial or sentimental value, so security and a trusted brand bring great reassurance.

It’s worth checking a storage franchise’s reviews and average rating on Trustpilot. Also quiz the franchisor on the help they’ll provide with finding you the right location – after all, 68% of self storage users travel 20 minutes or less to their unit.

Franchisors should also coach you through every other element of the business – from the mechanics of unloading and storage to IT, marketing and recruitment.



Joshua Antoniou

About the author

Joshua Antoniou is now Global Account Executive having started at Dynamis in the Customer Service department. He also writes for BusinessesForSale.com & FranchiseSale.com.