How to Start a Shipping Container Storage Facility Business

Learn the necessary steps required to launch a profitable shipping container storage facility business. Turn your unused

Shipping container storage facility

With a forecast revenue of £1 billion+ in 2023, the UK self storage industry is booming, and this trend is not set to cease anytime soon. This presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to start a profitable business.

However, instead of going the traditional route of building or buying a storage facility, have you considered using shipping containers? As leaders in the self storage industry and makers of the Storeganise self storage software trusted by many, we reckon this is an excellent opportunity to invest in the self storage industry.

Join us as we navigate the process of starting your own shipping container storage facility — from the benefits of using shipping containers to financing options, required permits, and more! But first, let’s see how much demand there is for storage spaces in general.

The Growing Demand for Storage Space

The self-storage industry is experiencing significant growth. In the UK alone, there is a high ratio of storage space per person, with approximately 0.82 square feet of rental storage space per person. With more people accumulating belongings and needing extra space, the demand for storage units continues to rise.

The demand for storage space is growing steadily, driven by various factors. With an expected annual average growth rate of 12.6% by 2025, the rise of eCommerce has significantly contributed to the need for storage facilities as businesses require space to store their inventory.

So, why should entrepreneurs look into shipping containers when starting a self storage business and not the traditional brick-and-mortar option? Find out below!

Why Choose Shipping Containers for Storage Facilities? (5 Advantages)

Using shipping containers for storage facilities offers several advantages over traditional construction methods.

Here are 5 reasons why shipping containers are the perfect solution for your self-storage business:

  1. Cost Effectiveness: Building a traditional storage facility can be expensive, but using shipping containers significantly reduces construction costs.

  2. Strength and Security: Shipping containers are made of thick steel walls, making them strong and secure. They’re also waterproof and have tight seals to keep out dust, animals, and rodents.

  3. Flexibility: Unlike traditional facilities, you can easily relocate, add, remove, or rearrange shipping containers based on demand. This gives you more flexibility in managing your storage units.

  4. Low Maintenance: Shipping containers require little to no maintenance and retain their value longer than traditional buildings.

  5. Ease of Customisation: Entrepreneurs may easily modify containers to include features such as roll-up doors, lockboxes, vents, and dividing walls to create different storage unit configurations.

We’ve established that shipping containers offer various perks over the typical storage unit build. But do they offer similar revenue potential? Is building a shipping container self storage business profitable? Get an idea below.

How Much Money Can You Make From a Shipping Container Storage Facility?

The potential profitability of your shipping container storage facility depends on several factors, such as the number of containers, rental prices, and occupancy rates. How Much Money Can You Make From a Shipping Container Storage Facility Here are 3 hypothetical scenarios to give you an idea of potential earnings:

Scenario 1

Start with 50 shipping containers at a cost of £3,000 each. Rent out each unit for £150 per month. With full occupancy, you could potentially earn £7,500 per month and recoup your investment in about 4 years.

Scenario 2

Start with 100 shipping containers at a cost of £3,000 each. Rent out each unit for £150 per month. With full occupancy, you could potentially earn £15,000 per month and recoup your investment in a little less than 3 years.

Scenario 3

Start with 250 shipping containers at a cost of £3,000 each. Rent out each unit for £150 per month. With full occupancy, you could potentially earn £37,500 per month and recoup your investment in about 2 years.

While the above scenarios assume 100% occupancy, keep in mind that even operating at 60–70% occupancy, a self-storage facility can still be profitable — the average industry occupancy is around 83.3%. Additionally, the self-storage business is relatively recession-proof, as people always need extra space during moves, downsizing, or life transitions. Having seen how lucrative shipping container storage business ventures are, let’s see the various locations suitable for a self storage business with shipping containers.

How to Start a Container Shipping Company: Selecting a Location

The location of a shipping container self storage facility will determine its patronage, which directly impacts revenue and overall success. When choosing a location for your storage facility, consider accessibility and demand.

Look for areas near:

  • Colleges

  • Senior care facilities

  • Major corporations

  • Industrial parks

  • Military bases

1. Colleges / Universities

Areas near colleges are a great idea for several reasons outlined below:

  • Colleges and Universities attract a large student population, many of whom require temporary storage solutions during holidays or when moving between accommodations.

  • Colleges and Universities often have limited on-campus storage options, creating a demand for off-campus storage facilities.

  • Proximity to colleges increases the chances of attracting student customers who value convenience and accessibility.

This location option can help ensure a steady customer base and maximise the utilisation of your storage facility.

2. Senior Care Facilities

Looking for areas near senior care facilities when starting a shipping container storage facility business is another great idea. Senior care facilities often have limited space for residents’ personal belongings, creating a need for additional storage options.

Locating your storage facility nearby means you can cater to the needs of seniors and their families who require secure and accessible storage solutions. This targeted approach allows you to tap into a specific market niche and establish partnerships with senior care facilities, increasing the potential for a steady stream of customers and referrals.

3. Major Corporations

You can also consider areas near major establishments when starting a shipping container storage facility business. These corporations often have a need for additional storage space for their inventory, equipment, or documents.

With such a location, you can offer storage services to these corporations, becoming a convenient and reliable solution for their storage requirements. This type of location allows you to tap into a lucrative market and potentially secure long-term contracts with major businesses, ensuring a consistent and sustainable source of revenue for your business.

4. Industrial Parks

Consider areas near industrial parks when starting a shipping container storage facility business. Industrial parks are often home to businesses that require extra storage space for their supplies, equipment, and inventory. Being in close proximity allows you to cash in on this demand; you can better establish strong relationships with industrial businesses and ensure a steady flow of clients.

5. Military Bases

Lastly, areas near military bases are good for starting a shipping container storage facility business. Military personnel often require shipping containers as storage units when they’re deployed or relocated. You can cater to the storage needs of service members and their families, providing a convenient and secure option.

Additionally, military bases are known to have strict security measures; you can market your facility as an attractive choice due to its proximity. This targeted approach can help you establish a reliable customer base and potentially secure long-term contracts with military personnel and organisations.

Besides getting a good location to solve the problem of where to store shipping containers, you must also ensure that you comply with local zoning codes and regulations by contacting the local zoning board and obtaining the necessary permits. Keep reading to learn more!

5 Permits for Starting a Shipping Container Storage Facility Business

When starting a storage facility business, you’ll need to obtain certain permits and licences to ensure compliance with local regulations. Shipping Container Storage Facility Here are 5 permits you may need to consider:

  • Planning Permission: Check with your local planning authority to determine if you need planning permission for your storage container business. For example, you may need permits for a change of land use.

  • Environmental Permits: Depending on the location and activities of your storage facility, you may need environmental permits to comply with waste management, pollution prevention, or hazardous material regulations.

  • Fire Safety Certificate: Ensure that your storage facility meets fire safety standards and obtain a fire safety certificate from the local fire authority.

  • Health and Safety Compliance: Comply with health and safety regulations and consider obtaining relevant certifications to demonstrate your commitment to maintaining a safe environment for employees and customers.

  • Business Registration: If you’re in the UK, for example, register your business with Companies House and consider obtaining the necessary licences or permits for general business operation.

It’s important to consult with local authorities, such as your local council or regulatory bodies, to determine the specific permits and licences required for your storage facility business based on its location and operational activities. While sorting out location requirements and getting the necessary permits, you should also think of how to raise capital for your shipping containers.

6 Financing Options for Your Shipping Container Storage Facility

Your shipping container self storage building costs will vary depending on factors such as land and zoning costs, container purchase costs, and site preparation expenses.

There are many financing routes for commercial businesses like yours, and here are 6 top options to explore:

  1. Traditional Bank Loans: Approach banks and financial institutions to secure a business loan. Prepare a comprehensive self storage business plan highlighting your projected revenue, expenses, and market analysis to increase your chances of approval.

  2. Government Support: Investigate government-backed schemes and grants that support small businesses in your area. Programs such as the Start Up Loans Scheme and the Enterprise Finance Guarantee in the UK may provide funding options for your shipping container storage facility business.

  3. Crowdfunding: Utilise crowdfunding platforms to raise capital for your business. Create a compelling pitch and offer attractive rewards to potential investors in exchange for their financial support.

  4. Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists: Seek out angel investors or venture capitalists who specialise in the self storage or real estate industry. These investors often provide capital in exchange for equity or a share of profits.

  5. Self-Funding: Consider using personal savings or assets to finance your storage facility business. This option allows you to maintain full control over your company and avoid debt obligations.

  6. Equipment Leasing: Instead of purchasing storage containers outright, explore leasing options. This can help reduce upfront costs and provide more flexibility as your business grows.

Remember to thoroughly research and compare the terms, interest rates, and repayment options associated with each financing method. Additionally, consult with a financial advisor or accountant to ensure you make informed decisions that align with your business goals and financial capabilities. With financial requirements sorted out, the next thing to do is to purchase your shipping containers — we have some tips/options for you below.

Guidance on Purchasing Shipping Containers

When purchasing shipping containers for your storage facility, consider buying new or one-trip containers. These containers have only been used once and require minimal maintenance. Alternatively, you can opt for used wind and watertight (WWT) containers, which may require some initial maintenance and painting.

You can explore options from reputable shipping container providers like Willbox, which offers a wide range of self-storage shipping containers. Their expertise and quality products will ensure you have reliable and secure containers for your business.

So, how should you prep your shipping containers to make them ready for use as storage units? Continue reading for details. Guidance on Purchasing Shipping Containers

A 10-Point Checklist for Prepping Your Shipping Containers

To make your shipping containers more appealing and extend their lifespan, it’s essential to properly prep and paint them.

Here are 10 things you can do for proper storage container conversion:

  1. Carry out surface preparation: A shipping container’s surface is crucial to its durability. Choose an acrylic-based, specialised paint that is chemical and corrosion-resistant. This will protect the containers from harsh weather conditions and maintain their appearance.

  2. Clean and sanitise: Before placing your self storage shipping containers on the market for rent,  it’s essential to clean and sanitise them thoroughly. This involves removing any dirt, debris, or residue from the interior and exterior surfaces. Use appropriate cleaning agents and disinfectants to ensure a hygienic environment for storing items.

  3. Repair any damages: Inspect the shipping containers for any damages, such as dents, rust, or leaks. Repair or replace damaged parts to ensure the containers are structurally sound and secure. This step is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the containers and protecting the items stored inside.

  4. Install proper ventilation: Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent moisture buildup and condensation within the containers. Consider installing vents or ventilation systems to promote airflow and prevent the growth of mould or mildew.

  5. Insulate the containers: If you plan to market your shipping containers as climate-controlled storage for storing temperature-sensitive items, insulation is a great way to regulate the internal temperature. Insulation materials such as foam panels or spray foam can be installed to maintain a more stable environment. Climate-controlled mechanisms for regulating temperature and humidity levels may also be necessary to provide optimal conditions for delicate items.

  6. Implement security measures: Enhance your shipping container storage facility security by adding sturdy locks, security cameras, or alarms. This will help protect the stored items from theft or unauthorised access.

  7. Organise and label: Develop an efficient organisation system within the containers. Use shelves, racks, or storage bins to maximise space and ensure easy access to stored items. Label each container with its contents for quick identification.

  8. Implement pest control measures: Look into approaches/methods for preventing pest infestations. Seal any cracks or gaps that pests can use as entry points, and consider using pest control products or professional services to keep pests at bay.

  9. Maintain regular inspections: Once operational, regularly inspect your shipping containers for any signs of pest activity, leaks, or damage. Resolve any issues right away to prevent subsequent damage or compromise the stored items’ safety. Consider adhering to a self storage maintenance checklist for best results.

  10. Document inventory: Lastly, keep a detailed inventory of the items stored in each shipping container. This will help you keep track of what is stored where and facilitate easier retrieval when needed.

Proper adherence to these steps can ensure your self storage shipping containers are properly prepped and ready to serve as secure and reliable storage spaces for your customers’ valuable items. But what good is a well-prepared shipping container business with a poor marketing strategy? How do you get the word out about your business to the right audience? Find out in the next section!

Marketing and Promoting Your Storage Facility

Having understood how to start a shipping container business, the only thing left to ensure a profitable business is a good marketing and promotion strategy.

Consider the following tips:

  • Utilise online platforms, social media, and local advertising to reach your target audience.

  • Highlight the benefits of using shipping containers, such as affordability, security, and flexibility.

  • Upload clear and professional images of your shipping containers.

  • Provide exceptional customer service and build a strong reputation in the industry.

  • In the long run, showcase good reviews from customers who have used your self storage services.

For further reading on marketing ideas, check out our comprehensive guide on self storage marketing. With the right approach, creating a self storage business out of shipping containers can be a lucrative endeavour.

Conclusion

Starting a shipping container storage facility business is a lucrative venture with lower construction costs and more flexibility compared to traditional storage facilities. With the increasing demand for storage space, investing in shipping containers provides a cost-effective and efficient solution.

Understand that running a shipping container storage facility business can be demanding. However, using a self storage software to automate your business is a good way to stay afloat, as it helps you cut unnecessary staffing costs with features like contactless booking, etc. You can also check out Willbox to purchase high-quality shipping containers to kickstart your venture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is storage containers a good business?

Yes, storage container businesses are good investment options. Shipping containers for storage units hold both material and functional value, making them a versatile asset. They can be used for various purposes like storage, transportation, and even repurposed for housing or commercial spaces. With the growing demand for storage solutions—as evidenced by the latest self storage statistics—investing in a storage container business can provide a stable and profitable venture. However, it’s important to conduct thorough market research, assess competition, and develop a solid business plan to ensure success in this industry.

How long do shipping containers last as storage?

Self storage shipping containers used for storage purposes can last an average of 25–30 years. While container leasing companies usually retire containers after a 10–12-year period, those used in storage facilities have a longer lifespan due to less intensive use. With proper maintenance and regular inspections, storage containers can provide durable and secure storage for an extended period. However, it’s important to note that environmental factors, such as exposure to saltwater or extreme weather conditions, can impact their longevity.

Is a storage container business profitable?

Yes, a storage container business is profitable in the long term as people and businesses will always require shipping container self storage options. With proper setup and management, you can generate substantial annual income from owning ship container storage units. However, like any business, there are risks involved in operating a self-storage facility. Factors such as location, market demand, competition, and marketing strategy play a crucial role in determining profitability. Consider opting for a self storage software to help streamline your business operations, slashing costs and boosting profitability.