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If you’ve ever taken a tour of a self-storage facility you may be wondering, why do storage managers ask so many questions? “It’s my stuff! Quit being so nosy! Why do you even need to know?”

Large Drive Up Units in a row

In reality, any self-storage manager with experience is thinking: “I need to learn what is important to the customer, what might cause roadblocks and what things I can do to make this easier.”

Managers already understand that for the most part you’re stressed and might not be thinking about all the implications of what you rent and where it is located. That is where a good quality manager can make your life easier. Many of us have done storage for years, some of us for over 30 years and we’ve seen the trials and frustrations of not getting “the right unit”.

Generally, if you have never used storage before, then you might think they are really all the same.

You might think you are just jabbering about your problems and situation but the manager is picking up on things you are saying.

Situation 1:

You: Our house sold! We have to put everything in storage while we look for a new one.

Storage Manager: Are you buying something here locally?

You: Yes –*(and you’re thinking. Why does the manager care where I buy a house?)

Boom!!! You should see the thoughts charging through the manager’s mind. An explosion of activity just happened. The checklist is silently running:

  • Will the customer need 18 wheeler access to move? Probably not, since this is a local move.
  •  This customer might want a larger storage than required, because they are staying locally and will probably visit to find things periodically. If they pack the unit like a Tetris game, and they visit to retrieve something, they are going to have to repack it just as tight. This is not fun for the customer.
    • This is a financial question too. If you go with a bigger unit, it generally costs more money – but you have accessibility and probably won’t be staying in storage very long. It might be worth it to pay more for the convenience of easily retrieving items.
  • Remind customer to leave important documents, like tax documents where they are accessible. They might need them when purchasing their next home.
  • Toolbox – make sure you can find it. When you get into your new home, you are going to have stuff to adjust/assemble.
  • How are you moving? Units that are closer to the entrance door are generally more desirable and more expensive. If you are paying the movers by the hour and staying short term, it might be worth it to pay a bit extra to be closer to the door.
  • Don’t forget, with our Here For You Guarantee you have free faxing and scanning which can save money when you are closing on your next home.

Situation 2:

You: I just got my orders. I’m being deployed for 18 months and we have to get everything in storage.

Storage Manager: Wow, Thank you for serving! I appreciate your service! How soon are you leaving?

You: Next week.

Storage Manager: You said “We” have to get everything into storage. Is the “we” you and your spouse? Are they staying here locally?

You: No, she’s going back to Georgia with the baby to stay with her folks.*(and you’re thinking. Why do you care where my wife is going?)

Sha-Zam!!! You should see the thoughts charging through the manager’s mind. It looks like an electrical storm on a hot desert night. The checklist is silently running.

  • Staying 18 months? You most definitely want to strongly consider air conditioning. The summer heat in the desert can be really hard on items that are used to being inside an occupied home all the time.
  • Are you doing the moving yourself? With just help from friends? You can save some money by renting a unit further from the door. Oh yes, no need to worry we have flatbed dollies to roll things down the hallway.
  • We have a free move in truck – that will make moving into storage easier
  • If your wife is headed to Georgia and no one is local, you might consider going with the smallest storage room that will accommodate everything to save money –since you won’t return until you vacate the storage space and won’t need room to rummage through things
  • You’re military – let’s make sure to talk about the military discount.

Situation 3:

You: We will be coming with a 26’ truck next Saturday night. We need a 10×30 storage space. And, we have to catch a plane on Sunday evening. Obviously, we are crunched for time. We have to get it unloaded quick on Sunday. How late do you stay open on Saturday or how early do you open the office on Sunday?

Storage Manager: No problem, let’s rent the unit for you now. We call it “pre-leasing” and will have the rent become effective on Saturday, when you arrive. This saves you paying for wasted days. Sometimes we can do this up to 14 days in advance based on unit availability. This means you will rent the unit today, pay today, put your lock on the unit and test your gate code before you leave. Some nice benefits of this approach are: you don’t have to worry about renting the unit the day of. That part is already taken care of. You already know where it is, and you know the gate code works. You can also start unloading as soon as the gate unlocks Sunday morning, there’s no need to wait for the office to open.

The checklist is running again:

  • Consider load a folding chair as the last item onto the truck and be sure to bring cold beverages with you to stay hydrated. This way you can take a break from loading to sit and supervise. Don’t underestimate how tired you will get doing a marathon move in a weekend– it can really wear you down.
  • If unloading in the heat of summer, consider which direction the back of your truck is facing. You don’t want the afternoon, hot sun beating into the cargo box. Put the cab of the truck to the sun if you can. Just be sure to get the air conditioning going again a little before you have to leave, so it will be nice and cool when it’s time to go.
  • Does the customer realize a 26’ truckload usually fits in a 10×20’ unit? Is the customer bringing a loaded truck or trailer too and actually need 30’ or does the customer just assume a 26’ truck needs a unit longer than 26’? The truck’s cargo box is not 10’ wide – it is narrower than the storage so you don’t need a storage room as long as the truck

You get the idea. When you tell the manager your story, they should really be listening and finding out how to best help you. Sometimes something that is minor to you is major to the storage manager in ensuring you have a great storage experience. We want you to be happy with what you choose to rent. We don’t want you to pay the movers extra to walk a long distance. If convenience is a priority we can help, or if money is a priority we can help find the cheaper arrangement. Storage and moving are stressful. Let us help think through the options. Here are some other thoughts you may have and what they mean for your storage manager.

What You Say Means A Lot to Your Manager

Thought Response
I plan to stop by my unit every evening and drop off my tools daily and pick them up in the morning again so my tools aren’t stolen off my truck at night. Maybe a unit with drive up access that doesn’t face the west is ideal, as you won’t have the hot summer sun on you in the evening and won’t have to haul your tools down a hallway.
We are moving here from Minnesota, everything is in a PODS/ABF trailer/Ubox unit and they are delivering it this week but the house closing got delayed! Let’s find you a storage unit that has a place nearby to park the pods unit for a few days. Generally the company delivers the pod type unit on one day, you unload the next day and then they remove it the next day. This is all normal. No stress.
My husband doesn’t get off work until late – so we will be unloading the truck in the dark. Let’s find a unit with an exterior light near it – it will make it easier to unload if you have optimal lighting.
We will be moving in on Sunday afternoon it’s going to be so hot. Let me check and see if I have a unit facing the East.  I could also rent you a unit in building B that way you are in the shade if you are unloading later in the day.
I’m storing my grandfather’s movie collection. They are really old. Maybe we can find a storage room that doesn’t have an exterior wall facing the West or South, might make it a bit more stable temperature wise.
I’m storing my mom’s stuff. She just died and my siblings can’t come down until this winter to go through things. Consider a slightly too big unit if you are going to be filtering and repacking stuff at the storage with your siblings. If you plan to take everything home to filter through it when your siblings get to town then go with something that is smaller.
I’m storing my 13’ Kayak. Let’s find a unit on the second floor with a high ceiling and a straight shot to the unit without turning.
I’m moving out of state to help my elderly parents and won’t be back for several months. Go with the smallest storage you can, furthest from the entrance and you save money because of the size and location.
My wife packed everything in sturdy plastic totes. Excellent choice.  You might be able to do more stacking with totes than boxes.  Use that vertical space in your unit
I’m moving in with my pickup truck and 24’ trailer. No problem, all of our driveways are nice and wide.  I will find you a unit that so when you park to unload you won’t be blocking access to other units/doors.
I will usually be at the storage in the evenings on my way home from work. I’m going to be alone and that makes me nervous. Let’s find a unit near the traffic pattern so you don’t feel isolated.
I have a storage space and my daughter is moving in with me temporarily- so I need a bigger unit to store her stuff plus mine. How long is your daughter going to be storing her things?  How long will you continue to use storage?  Is she is only storing short term and your storing long term?  Generally, storage is cheaper by the square foot when the unit is larger.  If you are both vacating at the same time – just share one big unit. If the daughter is storing short term then just rent her a separate unit so you don’t have to move your stuff twice.
I’m storing items, and I just live down the street. Rent a unit slightly too large so you have space to find things, retrieve things add things. This costs a bit more but makes life easier.
I’m storing items and won’t visit again until I vacate. Rent the smallest unit that will accommodate your things to save money.
An 18 wheeler or professional van lines will be involved in this move. You’ll need a unit with minimal walking and where the big truck can park near the unit.
I’ll only be staying for one month. Consider units close to the entrance, so you spend less time walking when moving in.  These units are generally more expensive but it gets the movers “off the clock” faster. Air conditioning might be optional depending on the time of year.
I’ll be staying for a year or more. Get a unit further from the door, they are usually cheaper.  This is similar to a hotel.  If you want a view of the ocean it’s more expensive.  Air conditioning might be important if you are storing through the summer.
I’m storing my business inventory and will have deliveries every week.  Sometimes on pallets. Will they be removing items from the pallet at delivery? (no.) Then make sure they can get a loaded pallet jack into the unit –are all the door widths appropriate?  Are there any ledges that will pose delivery problems with the pallet jack?  Do you have enough space for the inventory plus the new pallets?  Don’t forget to sign up for our Business PASS so you don’t have to sign for deliveries.

If a manager is asking lots of questions- it means the manager cares and wants to help inform you of all of your choices and the impact they have on your duration in storage so you can ultimately make the best choice for your physical and financial well-being. At Storage West it is about finding the best storage solution for your storage needs. The more we know, the more we can be here for you!

-Jennifer Parks
Storage West Surprise

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