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Starting indoor car storage

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  • Starting indoor car storage

    Hey guys, i have an opportunity to try and make something out of a vacant warehouse out here in CT.

    since im a car guy and buisness parter is also a car guy we are considering starting a climate controlled indoor car storage warehouse.

    building is about 8500 sq feet with one garage bay entry door that is probly like 15 feet high? and 10 feet wide. so im thinking we can even store a few small boats in here.

    its about 1/2 mile down the road off the interstate. easy access. close to a marina as well.

    now im new to this and do gutters fro a living so this is a bit of uncharted territory, was hoping someone could offer me some guidance of anything i should take into consideration while exploring this endeavor. im trying to put together a makeshift business plan to present to the property owner.

    short term goal is to just house enough cars to cover the operating expenses. on a month to month basis in case they find a long term leasee

    long term goal is to hopefully profit!

    starting out i assume biggest priority should be alarm system and CCTV

    next would be access control. this wont be a free access place since we wont have anyone on site to babysit. but i supposed access could be granted to trusted indivduals on a case to case basis if access control was in place. otherwise myself or partner would have to meet people on site to give access.

    next would be accounting/management software? what would one use for this type of buisnesss?

    insurance will also be a large factor. what type of insurance does a indoor car storage require? i suppose it would have to be able to cover any vehicles stored inside in the event that everything was destroid?

    any insight any one can offer or direct me in the right place for some resources i will appreciate it! thanks!

  • #2
    I'd think you'd be better off offering RV and boat storage over car storage. I don't think there are that many owners that would pay to store their car in a climate controlled warehouse apart from where they're living. If you're looking for classics, hot rods and collector cars, there may not be enough potential customers in your area to support your overhead.

    RVs and boats/watercraft are plentiful, don't get used nearly as much as people think, are usually owned by people with disposable income, and would benefit greatly from indoor, climate controlled storage. Add an outdoor wash rack and maybe a dump station, and I'd think you'd be in better shape to succeed.
    In no way affiliated with Storman software.


    • #3
      Hey breakmywallet (love the name),

      Welcome to the forums! I'm not sure if you've already have a feasibility study done, but that would be my first step along with contacting the local Self Storage Association. I believe Connecticut is part of the Northeast Self Storage association, so if you have an opportunity to attend any virtual events they might be hosting it's a great association and can be found here:

      Definitely a good idea to start with security and while you're doing so you can look into access control that offers bundled services such as PTI Security or OpenTech Alliance. They're both very well known throughout the industry and offer access control, gate, security, and IoT (Internet of Things) platforms.

      Management software, I'm biased about as a provider, but I would suggest trying out a variety of software solutions and see which ones match the criteria for your business plan (offering online rentals, contactless payments, text messaging, mobile platforms, etc.) and then see which handles to your preference.

      What one person finds intuitive to use won't necessarily be the same for the next person.

      Here's an article from Inside Self Storage that might help guide you through the process:

      Also take into consideration that many management software providers use their own payments platform so while looking into price, it's important to factor in credit card processing rates, fees, and point of sale technology. Some providers still can't use pin and chip cards with their software either, so if you want to be able to accept contactless payments from mobile devices and things of that nature, I would make sure that whoever you choose offers EMV-ready payments.

      With vehicle storage, there are other considerations too. If you want to be able to track VIN numbers, current insurance, registration, etc. make sure you're looking for those things while you're taking a look at the software as well. Also, if you're going to be offering any ancillary services for other specialty vehicles such as RV/boat wash bays, electrical hookups, and dump stations.

      Insurance carriers for storage will definitely be able to help you out with that too.

      Hope this helps and good luck!
      Kevin Kerr
      Storage Commander Cloud Software
      k[email protected]
      Toll Free: 877.672.6257
      Direct: 951.867.4732


      • #4
        What Storman said. At one time I thought of car storage as well but it was all going to be tied in to Having a shop with say 10 bays with lifts that people would rent to work on their rigs and rent tools and expertise if needed. Would also pay for access to websites for tech info. With my 35+ years of shop experience and being an ASE Master Tech, I felt confident it was doable with a friend or two. We would also offer storage at a fee if the rig was there more than one day but we also would have a few storage spots away from the shop for strictly vehicle storage but again, that storage of just cars would need to pull in a lot of vehicles to make money. Lots of custom car owners don't like them out of their sight. There was all kinds of facets to my plan. There is no way to have all needed vehicle work areas available so we would have had a list of individual contractors that could come in for specific body work or upholstery or special tuning on a dyno....etc. Also detailers and such. We would have had all fluids needed for sale and popular parts that were quick movers and small things like nuts, bolts, washers and specialty fasteners...etc.

        By the way...welcome to the forum.


        • #5
          Great starting with a Real Estate investment. Keep going for it.

          We do outside parking. Recommend you do the following before getting to deep into the business plan.
          a. Take your car and a truck.
          b. Take some nylon string, measuring tape, masking tape.
          c. Lay out the parking and flow plan. Get a number of possible parking stalls. Park your car and extended cab truck and see if the logic works. Although 8 foot is normal width of vehicles, I would recommend a minimum of 12 ft width of parking stalls to make the turns possible, otherwise your driving lane has to get wider.
          d. Two way or one way lane?
          e. To fit most cars, the stall needs to be 25 feet long. You can do 20 foot, but you have to be real strict with your customer about parking in this short lane. They can't stick out into the lane.
          f. If you want to do long pickup trucks or boats (tongue to prop), you will need 30ft or longer. Boats will need to be "Wheeled" and parked, can't make the turn if still attached to the vehicle. Otherwise you will need a 45 foot wide drive lane to park a 30 foot boat trailer.
          f. Recommend you park at 60 degree angle versus 90 degree. 90 degree takes a wider drive lane than a 60. Plus it is easier for your customer.
          g. Have them turn in on the "Drivers" side and not the "Passenger" side to park. You will need two way driving to do this.
          h. Take your number of parking slots. Go onto Sparefoot and check out prices for those "Drive up" unit sizes. I used Milford, since I've been there. 10 x 25 runs $250 to $400 in the area. Based on what you said above about limited access, group versus individual parking. You have to be below $250 to compete against, individual parking (no scratches) and anytime access versus limited.
          i. Just for kicks, you change the math, but still do the logic. Say you have 50 stalls, assume 70% occupancy, at $200 per month= $7,000. Sounds great. Will your customers pay $200? What is your building rent?
          j. Now lets look at your customers. Anyone's restored vehicle, corvette, or exotic car isn't going into there, unless you are putting in a $2mm Car elevator and bar. Your customers will be $5,000 to $25,000 vehicles. Will they pay $200? If not lower your price. 50 Stalls, 70% occupancy, at $100 = $3,500. Check your rent and expenses and your time meeting and opening the door.
          k. Its a beautiful Saturday in January, no ice, no weather and I want to take my 51 Dodge pickup out at 9:00 and bring it back 2 hours later. You need to meet me both times.
          l. Keep doing this until you are happy you have tested it and you are comfortable to do this.
          m. Sounds like your going to lease. Recognize your business can be dissolved anytime the building owner decides to terminate the lease.

          Don't think of the above as a futile effort. Keep coming up with ideas and testing them. Even ones you know you don't want to do, so you get the approach and a sense of what makes the numbers work.

          Take installing gutters versus the above project or Self Storage. Installing gutters is labor intensive, low capital entry, and skilled. Storage is just a Financial deal, no skill, High entry capital. Yes there are nuances to it, but the primary business plan is purely financial. Good job seeking out info, because your talking a new business model for you. Keep at it. You are on the right path with Real Estate investing.


          Attached Files


          • #6
            53 Dodge 7 window pickup truck. 1 year younger than me.


            • #7
              Close, 51. My wife's family's first farm truck, left in a garage. Re-doing their 1962 Dodge Sweptline next. Everything off but the bed box.


              • #8
                I took my shot. Still a nice looking redone truck. Amazing to see how far design and mechanicals have come in 70 years.


                • #9

                  Welcome, I'm in CT. What part of CT are you looking into? I have experience with the operations of car/boat/camper warehouse storage not the start up part of it. I can tell you how it was ran with the big box company I worked for at the time. So as far as the warehouse I ran, we stored high end show/classic cars, boats and campers. The warehouse was divided in half, one half was leased out to a commercial tenant a little over 12,000 sq. ft. they paid about $8,250 a month. The side of the warehouse we used for cars/boat/campers (this side of the warehouse was about the same sq. footage as the commercial tenant side maybe a little larger) it had one enormous bay door and 1 entrance door and an emergency back exit door. The side of the warehouse for parking storage held about 47 vehicles. There was 27 car spots up to 20 ft. in three rows, and 20 boat/camper up to 27 ft spots. The way it was set up, there were 3 rows of cars the center about 30 ft or so was left open than there was 2 rows of boats/campers. All vehicles were parked one in front of the other leaving the center open to allow them to maneuver into the spots. I did not design the parking set up,(to be honest it was a huge headache with their layout ) it is how the corporate company wanted it. Being set up this made some things extremely difficult. Such as, do to cars and vehicles being parked in rows, one in front of the other, the tenants could not freely come and go. Therefore it was basically winter car/boat/camper storage from Nov. 1st thru April 30th. Tenants had to stay for the entire duration with the exception of anyone in the 1st row of cars and 1st row of camper/boats, they were allowed to vacate at anytime, tenants in the 2nd or 3rd rows were stuck in the warehouse until the vehicle/boat/camper in the 1st row moved out which they had until April 30th to do so. This was basically a seasonal revenue thing. During the summer the vehicle side of the warehouse made very little money. We did allow cars. boats/campers to store in there during the off season months but it was for long term storage only, corporate did not allow tenant access to the warehouse at any time. Meaning if you put your car in, you could not come down and take the car out for like a weekend and return it. During the winter months, tenants also did not get access to the warehouse, if they wanted to come down and check on their vehicle, start it up etc. It had to be during business hours, we would escort them to the warehouse, open the huge bay door and allow them to do whatever they needed to. The warehouse was not climate control, there were outlets on each steel support beams but corporate did not allow anyone to run a trickle charge as they felt it was a liability having too many expensive vehicles in an open space. If the tenant wanted to use an outlet they had to stay with the vehicle at all times while the outlet was in use. Do to no heat, air condition not allowing electricity use, no access to tenants, the charges were about $110.00 for up to 20 ft. and $135.00 plus tax for up to 27 ft. At one point we actually allowed boats and campers up to 50 ft. but for them to maneuver in and out would take literally over 30 mins so they decided nothing larger than 27 ft. (in reality we allowed up to 30 ft if you included the trailer hitch etc. Revenue wise, during the winter storage months for the car half of the warehouse, if full ( I had it full every winter season for over 6 yrs) $5923 including tax monthly. During the summer months, I did have 12 vehicles that remained inside the warehouse all year round (they never left the warehouse, I had a tenant that was a car collector) so summer revenue was only $1403 including the tax monthly.
                  As far as insurance, CT Law is any vehicles stored outside must be registered and insured, if the vehicles are stored in an enclosed fixture, they do not have to have a valid registration (tenant would need to provide a title or bill of sale showing ownership though) but it must be insured by the tenant, being unregistered, the tenant has to contact their vehicle insurance company and get storage insurance. I would love to see the layout that you plan to allow the tenants access and able to come and go as pleased. I no longer do warehouse car storage as I was lucky enough to leave the corporate storage and now work for family owned storage. I would definitely have many cameras along with coded entry door. As the tenants I rented to actually had stored with us every yr for over 6 yrs so they were accustomed to the rules and like the idea that no one had access without a staff member as again these were expensive vehicles. We also made it mandatory that they provide and place a drip pan under all the cars, as the warehouse had no heat and every yr, there were cars that unfortunately leaked due to extreme cold temperatures in there. This is also a way to gain a little extra revenue having drip pans or whatever you choose to use for tenant purchase or possible rent them out to tenant for duration of their stay. Most storage places are LLC, so we actually had to add a vehicle addendum to raise the value of stored goods (normal storage rental agreement in CT for LLC limits the value of stored goods to about $2500) the vehicle addendum allowed them to store up to $30,000 but did not change the operator/storage owner LLC limits of $2500.
                  Good Luck, please keep us posted.
                  P.S. Camper/boat storage is a big need in CT. Most storage facilities can not accommodate indoor storage for these large items. When I did warehouse storage for vehicles, I had ppl come from over an hour plus away because I literally was one of the only places that offered indoor big reactional vehicle storage. I filled up the warehouse every year, and people would try to reserve months ahead of time to lock in a spot..... as every year I turned people away because we filled up A lot of storage places don't like doing the vehicle parking as you obviously do not get as much of revenue per sq. ft. compared to if they were actual units. If you plan on it being climate controlled, with tenant access to come and go and if you offer electricity usage, you can definitely charge higher rates for the amenities you'll have.


                  • #10
                    You'll make more per SF with indoor heated storage units and they should be fairly easy to construct.

                    People with boats and RV's usually have other stuff they would like to put in a regular storage unit, you should have them available

                    One other thing you need to consider is ventilation to get rid of all the exhaust fumes

                    Most importantly, your short term goal should be to profit, that is not a long term goal


                    • #11
                      I manage a 5 1/2 acer indoor storage facility. It used to be an iron factory. It is not climate controlled. I have everything from cars, trucks, dump trucks, fire trucks, boats, campers etc. It brings in 30,000+ every month. I do not have anyone on property and I visit it about once a week.


                      • #12
                        BRB Storage
                        For Breakmywallets benefit please explain how you were able to make the numbers work. Basically how much the property was purchased for. There is a market everywhere, it's just that the numbers don't work to put down concrete roads, parking and structure. Only works in an extremely high dollar neighborhood.


                        • #13
                          My company purchased the property for 1 million three years ago. When I started with the company 2 years ago there was about 6 Rv's there. I am proud to say as of this morning it is 100% occupied. It is nothing fancy just an old warehouse. I also have several people who do car repair there. Low overhead. It is in a extremely low income neighborhood and does not have cameras but I have not had any trouble.
                          Last edited by BRB Storage; 18 January 2021, 12:10 PM.


                          • #14
                            Well, in 3 years, depending on how long the property has been taking in $30k a month, the initial investment of $1 million is either close to being paid for or is paid for. The property alone has value and the building is used for storage. When you say people do car repair there, do you mean you have several people that have their own little auto repair shop there for their customers and they keep all the money or you get a cut? Or, they just work on their own vehicles there? I would then assume that the zoning laws are ok with that. Sounds like property taxes and upkeep on the building is being paid for as well.


                            • #15
                              We have several people with their own car repair shops in the building. They are not allowed to have customers in the building. Just drop off and pick up. We don't take a cut and it is zoned for business. We also have a lot of tenants that store vehicles bought at auction. I also have several tenants that store their commercial equipment with us. The only problem I have is they occasionally try to sneak in more cars than they pay for. When I drive in if they have extra cars they run up to tell me so I don't tow them. A few have finally learned that if I see extra they get towed right away.


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