Choosing the Right Self Storage Facility

Posted on April 25th, 2012

You’ve made the decision to use self storage, but if it’s for the first time it can be a somewhat daunting and even confusing experience. Because of the sheer number of self storage facilities that have cropped up, you just don’t know which one to choose. Going for the cheapest option may not always be the best or most convenient, so which is the right self storage facility for you?

We’ve come up with a short guide of things you may wish to consider when choosing a self storage centre:


First Impressions

Never commit to a self storage facility without seeing the premises first hand, as it could be much different than what has been described over the phone or on the website. Importantly, visiting the facility gives you a chance to weigh up the pros and cons of a particular facility. Are the staff friendly? Is the location convenient? Are the security arrangements adequate?

You may even wish to visit a few different self storage facilities to find out which is best suited to your needs.

Cost and Pricing

As mentioned, it may not always be the best option to go for the cheapest self storage centre you can find, especially if it is at the expense of other factors such as location or security.

Often, storage places located next to each other are quite competitive when it comes to cost, so you’re likely to get a good price for the location you’re in. However, it is important to make sure the prices are fully inclusive – extras may include compulsory insurance, or VAT. You may also want to find out if you need to pay a deposit.

Methods of payment are also important – some companies will charge you per week, and others per month, and some self storage facilities don’t accept cash for the payment of units. At BWI Self Storage, we don’t accept cash for the sale of any of our units as it is not recommended by the Self Storage Association in the UK, which we are a member of.

You may be able to get a discount if you’re thinking of staying long term and/or paying in advance.

Finally, most storage places offer introductory offers, but remember to find out the terms and conditions and also see how competitive prices are when the discount expires, especially if you’re planning to stay beyond the offer period.

Our initial discount at BWI Self Storage is 50% off the price of all units for the first 12 weeks, but thereafter we believe that our prices our not only affordable, but also extremely competitive.

Location

Location is often just as important as price. If you’re planning on visiting the facility a lot, it is advisable to choose one closer to home as although the cost of the unit may (or may not) be slightly more expensive, it’ll be easier, cheaper and more convenient to get to.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to rent a unit, store your things, and only come back every so often you may want to branch a bit further out and look for cheaper facilities.

If you’re looking to store things for your business – excess or out-of-season stock, or archives – the same rules apply depending on how often you’re planning on visiting your unit.

BWI Self Storage is easily accessible from East London, Hertfordshire and Essex. We are conveniently located beside Charlie Brown’s roundabout in South Woodford where the A406 meets the M11. We’re particularly well located for those living in the areas of South Woodford, Woodford, Gants Hill, Ilford, Redbridge, Clayhall, Buckhurst Hill, Barkingside, Snaresbrook, Chigwell and Wanstead.

Security

Concerns about security is often the biggest worry for first-time self storage users, which is fully understandable. Naturally, you want your possessions to be safe and don’t want to have to worry whilst you have other things like moving, extending or your business, on your mind.

When you visit a storage facility, you may want to keep mindful and ask about the following things:

CCTV – most facilities are bound to have cameras, but it is vital to note whether they’re on 24 hours a day and if they’re continually monitored. Furthermore, it is important that security cameras cover more than just the entrance.

Access – how easy is it to gain access to the facility? Some facilities will require a pin code for access (especially outside of office hours) whilst for others, you will need to pass by manned reception or office.

The unit itself – when visiting the facility, it may be important to note how sturdy the unit doors are as well as how the units are secured. If it’s by padlock, it may be advisable to use one of your own choosing and also to find out who else may have a key.

Opening Hours

Opening hours could be especially important if you need access to your unit outside of normal business hours. It is important to consider whether the opening times suit your personal needs.

Some facilities offer 24-hour-acess, which is great if you work unusual or long hours. Weekend opening hours are also important as some facilities may be closed or have reduced access, particularly on Sundays. You may also want to enquire about emergency access, and whether a facility can open for additional time with prior arrangement and if that would incur an additional charge.

Our opening hours are as follows:
Mon – Fri: 8am to 6pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 3pm
We may also offer free access outside of opening hours with prior arrangement.

Access

Finding out about access to your own personal unit could be a key factor, especially if you’re planning on storing large loads. First of all, check whether the loading bay is covered – the last thing you need is rain damaging your things whilst you’re trying to pack or unpack.

Also, check whether access to your unit is step-free, as some facilities may have more than one floor and/or steps leading from the car park or loading bay to the entrance. This may not seem a problem at first, but it will quickly become a hassle if you have to make several journeys. Most facilities often offer trolleys to ease transport, but it never does any harm just to see them for yourself.

Finally, it may be useful to have a unit closer to the door if you’re planning on loading and unloading frequently.

Staff

With self storage, just like with anything else, it is always all the better to have helpful staff on hand. So, when you’re visiting different facilities, keep in mind your first impressions of the staff. Are they willing to help, give you advice, and offer the best service possible? Are they genuine or pushing for the hard sell at all costs? Would you prefer a family-run, independent business or perhaps a chain, which is more corporate but may also be more efficient?

Some of it may be down to personal preference, but it is always important to know that there will be someone on hand should you ever have an issue.

The Actual Facility

Undoubtedly you want a clean and well-maintained facility to ensure that all your belongings are kept in the best possible condition, so when you’re visiting a facility make sure you keep note of things like cleanliness, lighting and other amenities such as a waiting area, or customer toilet.

Services Offered

Depending on your needs, some self storage facilities also offer moving and/or removal services and if not, they may be able to recommend such services. Remember to always ask about the cost upfront!

Other

Think about anything else that may be important to you when considering which self storage facility to use – are you able to buy packaging materials such as boxes and bubble wrap or even a padlock?

Is the website regularly updated?

A phone number to call in case of emergency?

Is insurance mandatory, and if so, how much will it cost?

How flexible is the contract?

There’s plenty of things to think about when choosing self storage, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. In fact, many of these considerations will come quite naturally when visiting and researching the right facility for you.

Of course we hope that BWI Self Storage ticks all of these boxes for you. We believe we’re affordable, flexible, clean, secure and friendly, not to mention conveniently located, but we’ll let you decide! You may even want to read our testimonials page to see what others have to say about us.

If you have any questions, enquiries or comments, please call us on, drop us an email or even pop by.