When you perform a Google search for terms related to “self storage” and “military” you will likely be presented with a long list of articles featuring the keywords “lockers,” “discount,” and “low cost.” Did you know that on average, military families move every 2.5 years? It’s also important to know that there are “...more military dependents than there are military personnel,” according to an article entitled Demographic and Military Service Characteristics of Military Families, published by the National Library of Medicine. Title 37, Section 401, of the U.S. Code says that military dependents can be;
With each member of the military moving every 2.5 years, and all their dependents going with them, it’s easy to see how the U.S. Military could be the cornerstone to the self storage industry. Add to that the high percentage of renters among military families,and the fact that moves are one of the top uses for self storage facilities, and you have a recipe for big business.
There have been storage businesses since the Zhou Dynasty in ancient China, but the self storage industry in the USA started in the 1850’s with Martin Bekins and The Berkins Moving and Storage Company, who set up storage facilities in Iowa, Nebraska, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Russ Williams picked up the self storage business banner in 1964, when he opened A1 U-Store-It U-Lock-It U-Carry-the-Key in Odessa, Texas. This facility was primarily used by oil companies to store supplies when not drilling.
Today’s self storage industry is still dominated by the military, with 4-6% of all storage units rented to military personnel, and occupancy of storage facilities near U.S. military bases typically up to 90%. Self storage once relied heavily on military customers, with most facilities being built near military bases in hopes of getting some of those sweet sweet multi-year deployment rentals. Military customers are the best customers because they move often between bases, are deployed domestically and overseas, and often need to store vehicles while deployed, and equipment when home from deployment. Some (many) self storage facilities go full-military, offering nothing but military storage.
Military members store all the same things that civilian families store, with a few big exceptions. First, because military families are often renters, they typically don’t move with many large appliances like washers, dryers or refrigerators - but they have other, more specific size needs. For example, storing vehicles requires at least a 10x20 or 10x30 storage unit. No appropriately sized units at your facility means no business. Climate control is also critical for military movers, as they are often away for months or years at a time and won’t be able to return to your facility and move into an available climate controlled unit when one becomes available. In short, no climate control means no business when it comes to the military. Let’s delve deeper into 10 ways you can ensure your self storage facility is military-friendly!
The SCRA or Servicemembers Civil Relief Act was put into place to protect military members who are deployed and away from their home country. This distance makes it difficult to pay bills or remove stored items while overseas. The SCRA says that facilities may not auction off the property of an deployed service member or an active-duty storage unit.
It’s important to keep track of which units are owned by service members who are on active duty or deployed overseas, to avoid the massive fines that come down on storage facility owners who auction off items owned by service people. Check out this article about how a storage company was ordered to pay $60,000 to an Airman when they sold his property while he was deployed. Inside Self Storage says that a few top SCRA things to know about include;
If you are considering getting into the lucrative self storage business, looking for sites close to military bases is a good idea! Make sure you do your research on market saturation in these areas, as this is far from a new or novel idea. For more information on the demographics in your potential area, check out Radius+, where we pull together all the data you need to make an informed self storage facility choice.
For more information on streamlining the management process of your storage facility, visit the ManageSpace Community, where we are using your experience in self storage to help you see your space differently through the lens of technology.
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