Questions About Portable Self-Storage (That Customers Don’t Know to Ask)

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Category: Customer Service, Moving Containers

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It’s no secret that the portable self-storage business is booming. What might not be so well-known is how differently the many players out there operate.

Some (if not many) of your container-renting customers will already have their container, their box or their cube already lined up when they call you for help loading it up. If not, they may need some help choosing the right company for their situation. In this spirit, we offer some answers to the questions they may or may not know to ask.

If a meteor pulverizes a PODS container, who is liable for the damage? Will the customer be reimbursed?

It depends. Regardless whether it was a meteor or something less drastic, if you didn’t purchase coverage (sometimes incorrectly called “insurance”), you may not be covered for anything – and that includes the container. You might think that a meteor qualifies as an Act of God and is one of those things you’ll be covered for no matter what. But tell that to the couple from Houston who found out a little too late that the portable storage company they used didn’t offer flood insurance.

It is critical that your customer ask their portable storage provider about coverage against loss and damage. They may have to purchase coverage for both their stuff and for the container itself if they don’t want things left to the whim of floods. Or meteors.

Can the customer arrange to keep their storage container on their property until they are able to load it up?

PODS, like many companies, will tell you that you can keep it there on the driveway as long as the customer wants, as long as they pay. The municipal authorities, however, might not be so accommodating. So make sure they double-check. 

Are portable storage containers weatherproof?

PODS containers aren’t, though they will say their containers are weather-resistant. Barring a Harvey-sized flood, however, they might hold up. On the other hand, Packrat and ABF (with their ReloCube) claim their containers are weatherproof. (Anyone who has owned both water-resistant and waterproof boots will understand that the distinction is important to make.)

Whether containers are fireproof or fire-resistant is another point the customer should ask about. Especially if they live in fire country. Many containers are made of galvanized steel, though some can be aluminum or even plastic. As for SmartBox, they incorporate wood into the interior.

Can a portable storage container be locked?

Of course. It sounds like a silly question – BUT – the customer may have to provide their own padlock. So checking beforehand is anything but silly.

Are portable storage container facilities climate controlled?

It depends. PODS says “many” of their storage facilities are climate controlled. U-Haul says climate-controlled storage is available. Some companies may store their containers outdoors, so tell them to call and make sure! American Portable Mini Storage is one company that offers climate-controlled portable storage containers as a mainstay feature.

Can the customer access their container while it is in storage?

Once again, it depends. PODS says yes, but an appointment is necessary. U-Haul offers 24-hour access to their storage facilities.

Finally, there are a few solid bets a customer will likely know to inquire about before deciding on a portable storage company: size of their containers, delivery window, and price are the most obvious. But our customers aren’t usually moving experts. Mention the above points and you’ll be helping your customer out with more than just the heavy lifting.

6 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Moving Into a Dorm

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Category: College Moves

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Moving to college is a big deal. Take it from me, emotions are running pretty high, you may be nervous, you might have traveled pretty far and you have a lot on your mind.  Mistakes happen. Fortunately, there are several ways to make moving into college a whole lot easier. It won’t take away from all of the emotions of leaving home, but you can at least transition with simplicity, so you’re just prepared to enjoy your new life.

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Every Place You Can Get Free Moving Boxes

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Category: Moving Boxes & Supplies

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People say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, how about a free box? We hear a lot about those, but where are they?

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Burglaries Inside Storage Units Are Becoming Common, but Can Be Avoided

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Category: Operations

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[Synopsis: In developing business relationships, quality is just as important as quantity.]

In our very first HireAHelper newsletter (Anyone out there remember?) we raised the idea of making friends with the folks at your local self-storage facility to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship. At any time of the year (and particularly during the busy season when so many people are coming and going) having a solid working situation with your industry colleagues can pay huge dividends.

But it also pays to know who you are shaking hands with. In any industry and profession, you are going to run across some bad eggs. The moving industry is certainly no exception. And neither is the self-storage sector.

Recent events in Independence, MO and Santa Cruz, CA remind us of this.

There in Independence, multiple break-ins of storage units left several customers feeling shaken and unsure of the industry.

“I always thought that if you put your things in something like that you are trusting those people to have security and watch over your stuff,” Hall said. “They just don’t.”

The situation repeated itself in Santa Cruz, CA. Dozens of customers had their valuables rummaged through and stolen, and multiple people were found living inside the storage units. That storage unit was eventually inspected by the city Planning Department and declared a public nuisance, but not before plenty of people got burned.

disclockTips such as not storing more than $5,000 in goods, purchasing insurance and using disc locks are offered when people get victimized. But the onus should ultimately fall on us within the industry for referring quality and safe services, as opposed to consistently pushing for maximum quantity. The latter is how we destroy our brand as an industry.

Business is all about relationships. And success in business is all about successful relationships. Successful relationships, in turn, require integrity and clarity from both sides of that handshake. If you hear there have been issues with a storage area, if you are dubious of your local storage units after seeing them, or if you are simply cramming as many customers into one place of business as possible, consider finding more alternatives.

As we continue down the roads of our own success, picking up people along the way, it’s important to remember to choose our friends – and our allies and business associates – wisely.

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