How I built an automated self storage business

My 12,000 square foot indoor self storage facility in Portadown, Northern Ireland
Though the UK has the most space per capita in Europe, it remains well behind Australia and the US (the US is missing from this chart, but has around 7 sq ft per capita) suggesting tons of room for growth.
Inside my self storage facility
My map of existing Self Storage facilities in Northern Ireland. Alongside census data, I used this to help determine where the opportunities lay.
The StoreStuff website, showing prices and allowing customers to book instantly themselves.
Technology and Services map used for StoreStuff
  1. Booking System:
  • Website — built using Middleman, hosted on Netlify and deployed via GitHub, where the code is stored. Netlify provides a free CMS — a content management system that allows quick and easy updating of site content — for website frameworks like Middleman. I use the free version of Hubspot to provide live online chat and their meeting organiser to let people arrange a time to view the facility (I get a notification telling me when to be on site to meet them).
  • Telephone — I use TTNC to provide a local telephone number that comes through to my mobile phone. My guess is there are better services out there for less money, but this works fine for me for now.
  • Walk Ins — lots of people still turn up at the facility and expect there to be someone on site to show them around. Making the experience match expectations for these people is one of the biggest challenges for unmanned facilities. I installed a Nest Hello doorbell at the front which, when pressed, calls my mobile phone. That allows me to speak directly to the visitor then either arrange a time to meet, or give them a remote tour of the facility using nokē to open doors for them. To be frank, this is still not ideal and I’m working on ways to improve this experience. If you have come up against the same problem, please get in touch and let me know how you got on.
  • allow customers to book online themselves
  • handle automated recurring payments
The ChargeBee dashboard (showing dummy data)
My first promotional video for StoreStuff. The Oscar nomination is apparently on the way.
Over 500 people came to see Daniel O’Donnell open StoreStuff

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