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Fri 27 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Self control

Question: What are the advantages of self storage for companies that operate in the Middle East region?

Self control

Question: What are the advantages of self storage for companies that operate in the Middle East region?

The emergence of self storage in Middle Eastern countries

Despite being well-established in regions such as North America and Europe, the concept of self storage is relatively new in the Middle East and a limited number of options are available to customers with an interest in this type of storage. However, its popularity is constantly increasing, especially in the United Arab Emirates, where Storall has emerged as a regional pioneer of self storage, allowing companies and individuals to lease climate-controlled units of different sizes for varying durations.

Typical items for self storage

A diverse range of items are stored in self storage facilities, from clothes and luggage to books and furniture. If the facility is operated by a multi-storage organisation, clients can also be provided with industrial warehouse space, supported by a top-tier warehouse management system. In many cases, customers that book for self storage will also require warehouse storage space for their professional requirements.

Factors that have contributed to this regional revolution

The local popularity of self storage has grown as more and more people move into the city or shift from apartment to villa (and vice versa). Dubai, for example, has a limited amount of storage space, whether we're looking at office or domestic environments.

This is where self storage becomes a helpful solution for customers that require extra storage space. Moreover, clients prefer to lease a self storage unit because of the flexibility in selecting both the size and duration of storage. The other alternative, which is less appealing, would be leasing a considerably larger warehouse for a minimum of one year, where the rate is lower than self storage, but the financial commitment is substantially larger due to minimum size and period restrictions.

Creating awareness of self storage to potential clients

Like most businesses, creating awareness of the service presents the hardest challenge. In the logistics business, knowing where to advertise, with whom to form a strategic partnership, which kind of corporate client to target and how to improve services are all part of the process.

To review, absorb and amend are keywords in this market. By following such guidelines, a company will inevitably start to grow and prosper.

Using Storall as a barometer of market demand in the region

Despite recent challenges in the logistics sector, Storall has managed to grow in size and market share, proving that demand for self storage does exist in the Middle East. In fact, we've recently expanded the capacity of our self storage facility by another one third. On several occasions, we've also had to sub-lease other storage facilities to meet our growing 3PL operation as well.

Growing competition from other players in the market

The United Arab Emirates was the first country to introduce the concept of self storage in the Middle East, with varying levels of success. At the moment, there are approximately half a dozen companies in Dubai and neighbouring areas that can genuinely be referred to as "self storage" providers. Naturally, there is a sense of healthy competition between the self storage companies here, which is always a good thing.

As a matter of fact, we speak with one another - and in several instances, we have passed clients onto each other when we either lacked available space and/or were unable to accommodate a client. The same goes for our third party logistics operation - we have continued to benefit from cooperating and keeping in close contact with other leading logistics companies, warehouse operators and freight forwarders in the region.

Hints and tips on selecting a quality self storage provider

Those seeking self storage should look for some basic principals when selecting their service provider. The facility should be located in a conveniently accessible location, dust-free and above all, climate controlled, because this will definitely make a difference during the summer. The facility should also have constant surveillance and controlled access, be clean and properly maintained, and offer various ancillary services, such as packing, crating, shrink-wrapping, strapping, and moving among others.

The availability of ample passage-ways and wide entrance doors is another important element to look out for. All of these factors, along with the right product mix and friendly customer service, comprise the perfect recipe for a successful self storage provider.

This month's column was written by Ghassan Abughazaleh, general manager of Storall.

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