Farm diversification has become an increasingly popular way for farmers to supplement their income and explore new business opportunities. One potential option for farm diversification is starting a shipping container self storage business.
With the growing demand for self storage, this business can be profitable and offer a unique way to utilise spare or unused farmland.
According to the Self Storage Association UK (SSA UK) the self storage industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion and is growing at a rate of around 10% per year. Shipping container storage sites make up a significant part of this industry, with many companies offering this type of storage solution.
Here are some key considerations for starting a shipping container self storage business on your farm:
- Conduct Market Research: Before starting any business, it's important to conduct market research to determine the demand for your services. Research the local market to determine the demand for self storage, and identify any gaps that you can fill. Typically, if the majority of other self storage businesses within 12-15 miles of your location are on average 75% or below capacity, that could mean that the demand isn’t there for another self storage business.
- Location: The location of your farm is an important factor to consider when starting a self storage business. You want to choose a location that is easily accessible and visible from main roads, as this will help with your awareness in the local area and ultimately attract more customers.
- Planning Permission: The need for planning permission to set up a self storage business on your land in the UK will depend on several factors, including the location of the land, the size and design of the self storage facility, and local planning regulations. If you're thinking about setting up a self storage business on your land, it's important to check with your local planning authority to ensure that you are complying with all the relevant regulations.
- Site Preparation: Once you have obtained the necessary permissions and approvals, you will need to prepare the site for your shipping container self storage business. This may involve clearing the land, levelling the ground, installing drainage, and creating a foundation for the containers. It is important that the land the containers will be placed on is dead-level as uneven ground can create issues opening and closing the doors on the shipping containers. The ground will also need to be firm enough for large articulated vehicles to drive on it to deliver the shipping containers.
- Shipping Containers: The containers themselves are the heart of your self storage business. You'll need to decide on the number and size of containers you want to purchase or rent from your chosen supplier. You'll also need to make sure that the containers you choose are secure, durable, and in good condition. You may also want to consider having grafo-therm installed as an additional anti-condensation measure, although new (one trip) shipping containers rarely have condensation issues due to the increased number of vents fitted as standard. The most popular containers used on container self storage sites are 20ft New (One Trip) Shipping Containers which are typically available in blue or green.
- Security: Security is a top priority for self storage customers, so you'll need to make sure that your site is safe and secure 24/7 so peoples possessions are safe. This may involve installing cameras, alarms, and access controls, as well as ensuring that the containers themselves are secure. You are able purchase padlocks that are specifically designed to work with a shipping container ‘lock box’ which is a metal cover that the padlock fits under to secure the doors and is therefore tamper proof.
- Marketing: Once your self storage business is up and running, you'll need to market your business to attract customers. You can do this through local advertising, signage, and online marketing. You may also want to consider offering incentives for customers who refer others to your business. Be sure to set up a Google My Business account so people can easily find you via Google Maps which more and more people do today when searching for local services.
- Management System: Facility management software has become an essential tool for self storage businesses that want to improve their operations, provide better customer service, and increase revenue. With solutions that include automation, security integration and data management, facility management software can help self storage facilities to stay competitive and meet the demands of their customers. We recommend the remote management tool, Stora, if you are looking for software to manage your business for you.
Starting a shipping container self storage business on your farm can be a smart and profitable way to diversify your income streams.
By conducting market research, choosing a suitable location, obtaining the necessary permissions, procuring your shipping containers, setting pricing and policies, and promoting your business, you can start a successful self storage business that meets the growing demand for affordable and convenient storage solutions.
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