From Warehousing to Archiving
Is your business storage working for you, or is it non-existent and you’re tripping over stock or paperwork all day? It can be tricky, trying to figure out a system that works without costing the business its shirt.
Here are some tips to help you get organised.
Decide on Your Needs
Too many businesses rush into the first option that comes to mind without really considering what else might be out there. An example could be the small retail operation that hops straight into warehousing once they’ve outgrown the loft or garage.
Take a realistic look at turnover and expansion plans, work out a finance plan, and if necessary speak to an advisor who can help you accurately assess likely future growth.
Once you have an idea of what you can afford, it’s time to seek out storage options.
The kind of premises you need are in many ways dictated by the type of stock being stored. If, for instance, you’re dealing in large, heavy items, then access becomes more of a priority than if you’re storing small boxes of multiple, lightweight items.
Do you need space for pallet trucks or trolleys?
Do you need flat access (no curbs)?
How important is security or out-of-hours access?
Do stock levels fluctuate, with busy and slack periods through the year?
Rushing in without answering all the questions that are pertinent to your business model can put you seriously out of pocket.
Keep Costs Down
When you know your needs, you’re in a much stronger position to make sound decisions.
A viable option for many small business owners is self storage, which has distinct advantages over either warehousing or home storage. It effectively provides a half way house for either start-ups or those in the early stages of growth.
With warehousing, you might end up paying for space you’re not using unless you can team up with a fellow business owner to share the space. But then you may run into logistical problems such as how to divide the space and who has access to what. In addition, warehousing comes with associated costs and contractual terms which many find prohibitive or intimidating. Do you really want to commit to the space for a year or more, and how will VAT and paying business rates affect your profit margin?
Self storage comes with none of those hurdles. You can choose the exact size of space you need, rent it for terms ranging from just a week, and up- or downsize as needed if stock levels fluctuate.
Added benefits include robust security, long opening hours and staff who may receive deliveries on your behalf. A big plus for many is knowing exactly what the monthly bill is, so there are no nasty surprises.
Make Storage Space Work Harder
Storage is often seen as ‘dead space’ where nothing useful happens.
One way of making storage space work harder is by creating an area amongst the stock for admin, packing, and dispatching operations. This should be possible (given room) wherever you’re storing items, but self storage spaces make it the perfect marriage of form and function.
All it takes is a small desk and maybe a chair in the corner along with somewhere to stow packaging materials, and you have a one-stop-shop for many business tasks. Take along a mobile computing device and you effectively create a mobile office where you can also take care of CRM and update inventory records.
Control the Paper Trail
As well as stock storage, businesses also tend to generate plenty of paperwork which also needs storage space. Thanks to cloud technology, we can now do away with banks of filing cabinets.
Even paper invoices and receipts can be scanned and filed electronically, and most are accepted by HMRC so you can safely do away with paper copies. Check with your accountant or other financial advisor which paper copies you need, just to be on the safe side.
For those paper records you do need to keep, self storage is also a handy solution. Maybe you don’t hold stock (service providers, for instance), but you need somewhere secure for previous year’s tax records? A self storage locker keeps everything safe, and fulfils the given wisdom that we keep important records at a remote location to protect from flood or fire.
Business storage can be a good business friend when you know how to harness it. With a good, rounded idea of what’s out there, you’re in the strongest position to navigate to your personal best solution.