People from all walks of life need storage for a variety of reasons, and typically there were two main options:
- Renting a public storage unit and doing the packing and moving themselves
- Hiring a pricey professional moving company and using their storage facility
These days, however, most of us are caught between a proverbial rock and a hard place.
We’re hopelessly busy and trying to save pennies wherever we can, which can make both choices unattractive.
Thankfully, there’s a relatively new hybrid option that includes many of the benefits of each without adding significant cost… Full-Service Storage
Though it has been around for years, it wasn’t until recently that full-service storage began gaining traction with a number of different demographics ranging from overworked and cost-conscious young professionals and millennials to well-heeled executives and retirees.
Also known as on-demand, valet, or pick up storage, full-service storage offers convenient access to storage without having to hire movers or do all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading like on a DIY storage move.
Full-service storage can offer more options and flexibility than traditional storage, and savvy providers have done a great job harnessing technology like apps and social media that make it easy for customers to prepare inventories, schedule services, and even track their items.
That said, you may be asking yourself –
What’s the Difference Between Self-Storage and Full-Service Storage?
Sadly, the old-fashioned self-storage model requires customers to do most (or all) of the hard work.
Here we’re talking about:
And if accessing your stored items is a necessity, you’ll need to take time out of your busy schedule to visit the facility and find what you’re looking for.
There’s also the added hassle and expense of renting a moving van if you’re storing more than just a few boxes.
With full-service storage, however, many or all of those tedious and time-consuming tasks may be taken care of by trained staff.
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First, there are a number of competing business models in the full-service storage world, and they appeal to customers of many stripes.
True full-service storage companies will pack, inventory, load, store and deliver items on request, and customers can choose which services they want, and which they’d rather do themselves.
It’s important to note though, that some companies require customers to do some things themselves.
Asking the right questions during the screening process is the best way to ensure you’ll have access to the services that are important to you.
Let’s take a look at each more closely.
Packing is often provided as a component of the customer’s overall storage package. Many full-service storage companies use heavy-duty plastic bins that are durable, reusable, and environmentally friendly compared to cardboard boxes. Alternately, before their move customers may have bins delivered to pack themselves, or use their own boxes or bins.
On DIY storage moves, customers may choose to inventory their items or forego it altogether. With full-service storage, however, it’s necessary to ensure that everything is accounted for between pick up and delivery. Many companies pack and inventory containers, furniture, and loose items before taking them to the storage facility, while others allow customers to do this themselves using handy phone apps.
Padding and Protecting Furniture
Many full-service storage companies pad furniture just like professional movers, but in some instances, it’s the customer’s responsibility. If so, it’ll add extra time and expense.
Some full-service storage companies have their own facilities, while others rent space at 3rd party warehouses. It’s worth asking where your items will be stored, and if you can tour the location before signing a contract.
Like traditional moving companies, full-service storage providers experience significant spikes in demand during the peak season between May and June. This usually results in price increases, which is common at the end of the month and on weekends too, so plan accordingly.
Company Employees vs Contractors
During the pre-move vetting process, you’ll want to ask whether the companies you’re considering have actual employees or use contract labor. Though one isn’t necessarily better than the other, how workers are screened and trained is important.
Many full-service storage companies pride themselves on flexibility and low turnaround time. You’ll also want to know how far in advance services need to be scheduled, and if it can be done online or using a mobile app.
Since 2013, Clutter has been serving large east and West Coast cities like New York and San Francisco.
They’re continually expanding to other parts of the country as well, and according to their website, they’ve served more than 50,000 customers nationwide with a 90% + satisfaction rate.
From their website, customers can customize their own storage plan in a few simple steps.
Since it was founded in Denver in 2014, Closetbox has expanded into nearly two dozen additional markets.
They’re all about streamlining the storage process, saving their customers time, and helping them avoid common pitfalls like renting an expensive truck and paying for storage space they don’t need.
You can easily find out if they service your area by entering your zip code on their website.
MakeSpace’s catchy motto sums up their service nicely –
“We pick it up, store it, and deliver it when you need it — without costing you more.”
Their main hubs include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, but like most of their competitors they’re in expansion mode.
One of MakeSpace’s most popular services is uploading high-quality images that allow customers to see what’s in storage at all times.
There’s also a quick and convenient storage cost calculator on their website worth checking out.
Getting storage in three quick steps has never been easier than by using RedBin’s website, and unlike some full-service storage companies, they only store items at their own warehouse – never at 3rd party facilities.
They focus on helping urban residents declutter and maximize their living space and offer next day service for pickups, drop-offs, and redeliveries.
On the downside, they only operate in metro NY.
Like it is with self-storage and professional movers, the cost for full-service storage can be all over the board.
Some companies have all-inclusive pricing, while others charge extra for each service using either hourly or flat-rate pricing.
Often, the following services cost extra:
- Bin delivery for customers packing themselves
- Padding furniture
- Pick up
- Partial “redeliveries” when customers need access to their items
- Moving items that are too large for a 2-person crew (like safes and hot tubs)
Costs can also vary greatly between rural and metropolitan areas, and for now, full-service storage is more widely available in large urban centers.
That being said, full-service storage is very competitive with self-storage and is usually much less expensive than professional movers.
Insider’s Tip: The only way to get an accurate idea of how much you’ll pay for full-service storage is by using cost calculators on providers websites or giving them a call.
- Items picked up, stored, and delivered directly to you
- Most companies will do the packing, or deliver bins if you’ll be doing it yourself
- Items are inventoried and usually photographed, which customers can access online
- Wide range of service options, many of which are included in the cost of storage
- Next day (or same day) service is often available
- Ability to schedule, reschedule, and cancel services online or by app
- Competitive pricing and easy payment options
- Many companies charge additional fees for each service
- May require relatively long-term storage contracts
- Customers may not be able to access their items while in storage
- All services must be scheduled in advance, and there’s usually a wait
- Companies may store your items at a 3rd party warehouse
- Some companies use contractors instead of employees
How will the company inventory my items?
Once at your residence or business, companies will prepare a detailed inventory and photograph each item bound for storage. This will then be entered into their computer system where you’ll be able to access it by logging into your account.
Are warehouses climate controlled?
Warehouse conditions can vary greatly from one company to the next. Some are climate controlled, but others aren’t. If you’ll be storing items susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and humidity you’ll want to ask.
Which services are “free”?
Some companies give customers all-inclusive pricing which often includes most of the services they’ll need, while others charge for each.
For customers interested in convenience, value, and flexibility, the answer is a resounding YES.
Full-service storage offers consumers many services traditionally only available with full-service movers, but with costs more closely resembling self-storage, so in many respects, it’s the best of both worlds.
Of course, not all companies are created equally.
Prices and services can vary greatly, which is why vetting the providers you’re considering using is so important.