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Self-storage is a huge industry in the United States. Did you know that there are 48,500 self-storage units in the country, more than the number of Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined?  The prevalence of self-storage means that many professional organizers will have a client who needs help organizing a storage unit.

The guiding principles of organizing a storage unit are no different from the principles we use while organizing a home, office, or any other space, but there are some details that every organizer should be aware of.

What Will the Final Result Look Like?

First, meet with your client to make an action plan. Talk through the client’s goals for the project.

Is the client’s goal to move to a smaller storage unit? If so, be sure to call to see whether a smaller unit is available. Or is everything going to their home? Or do they just want to easily find things in the space they currently have? Make sure you and your client are in agreement about the end result.

Ask your client whether they want an inventory made of the contents of the unit. Inventories take time, but they can really make future use and maintenance easier. To make an inventory, will you photograph items? Or make a list?

Where will the list be kept? Consider making the list using a digital tool such as Evernote or Dropbox so that your client can easily access the inventory and keep it updated.

How will the inventory be labeled? A box labeled “Clothes” could be anything, from old baby clothes to someone’s ski gear to a collection of concert souvenir t-shirts. Make sure you leave containers labeled in a way the client is likely to use.

Does the client want things on shelves that are now stacked on the floor? Find the shelving and get it to the unit in time for organizing day. Temporary shelving can be helpful for items that the client wants to leave in storage for a short time.

Know the Storage Facility

Get to know the facility. Some questions to ask include:

  • What are their hours?
  • Is there an elevator?
  • Do they have bathrooms available?
  • Is there parking on the premises?
  • Is the storage unit in a climate-controlled location, or is it freezing in winter and roasting in summer?

Supplies To Bring For Comfort and Efficiency

Storage units are pretty bare-bones, so it’s good to come prepared. Make a checklist of things you’ll need on the job. Some of the items on my checklist may include:

  • Space heater, heated floor mat, and gloves in winter – when it’s cold outside, it can be even colder inside!
  • Extra lighting and extension cords
  • Folding table
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Dust cloths
  • Trash bags
  • Disposable gloves and dust masks
  • Hand truck for moving stacks of boxes
  • Box cutter
  • Clean boxes and packing tape
  • BIG markers and a label maker
  • A chair to sit on
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hand wipes
  • Snacks and water

Where Will Cast-Offs Go

You’ll probably need to discard some items the client no longer needs or wants. Work with your client to co-create a plan for handling various types of discarded items.

Determine whether there is a dumpster available for trash (most facilities do not have one). If not, will you need to schedule junk haulers to remove the client’s cast-offs?

Develop a plan for donations. Make a note of donation locations near the storage facility, if your client will be letting go of things that may be welcomed by a charity or thrift store.

Does the client plan to sell things on e-Bay or take them to consignment shops? Work together to build a list of where things will go.

Wrapping Up

Make sure you allow plenty of time to wrap up your organizing sessions. If you are planning to re-load the storage unit, it can take a surprising amount of time to get everything put back in order.

Would You Like Even More Clarity and Confidence in Your Business?

Every organizer wants to go into every job looking professional, feeling prepared, and doing the best possible job for the client. A little advance planning can save you money, time, and sometimes your reputation, too.

If you’re a professional organizer who is looking for help to think through all the details of your business, including pricing, marketing, and branding, contact me for new-organizer coaching.

I will help you reach your business goals and build the organizing business you really want.

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