STORAGE SPACEUnits 1-50 m2 to rent
"A friend traveling in the US told me and my business partner about SelfStorage - a service that is pretty common and very successful in America. A quick calculation based on some key data left us very enthusiastic about the business idea" says Martin Gerhardus, now managing director of MyPlace - SelfStorage, looking back to the decisive moment when the company was founded.
“A more in-depth analysis of the American self-storage market - back then there were already 30,000 self-storage locations with about 100 million m² rental space - and the still small European market confirmed our first intuition. In Europe, too, there seemed to be a large demand for the rental of individual storage units. However, self-storage services were hardly in existence at this point of time outside of America - especially in the German speaking regions of Europe.”
"When detailed market studies in the important German speaking cities showed that every 5th household did not have enough space and there was a large demand for self storage units, the last doubts of me and my business partners vanished" remembers Martin Gerhardus the formation of MyPlace - SelfStorage in Austria 14 years ago.
From the Austrian pioneer to the market leader in the German speaking regions
With the formation of the company in 1999, MyPlace - SelfStorage closed a market gap with the rental of discrete, clean, dry and safe storage units in individual sizes between 1 and 50 m². Today the company already has 41 locations in Germany (26), Austria (13) and Switzerland (2) with a total of 302,000 m² surface and 34,300 storage units. The first location was opened in Wien-Strebersdorf, 17 years ago. MyPlace - SelfStorage has achieved market leadership with about 25-30% market share in the German speaking region in regard to the number of locations.
As the recipe for success, Gerhardus describes a strategic mix of intensive market research, exact selection of locations and storage solutions tailored to the customers’ demands: "Basis for the successful start of the business was our very intensive market research. This is why we were able to understand the situation our customers were in and could offer matching services. The selection of the location as well as the detailed construction plans, the mix of units and the definition of the service as a whole are based on this market research."
In addition the targeted strategy of a "regional penetration", the concentration of a few urban regions/cities in the German speaking region to quickly reach a dense network of locations paid out: "Marketing in one city for 5-7 locations is much more cost-effective and more efficient than for just one location - in addition to obvious synergy effects in regard to administration and management" says Gerhardus.
Basis for success: employee quality and trust on part of the banks
MyPlace‐SelfStorage also benefits from the quality of its employees. Gerhardus explains his priorities when recruiting staff: "Renting storage units is a very personal business that requires a specific skill set, such as listening and creating trust." Management was reinforced in time with expertise in the core areas self-storage - operations, location research/- and marketing/sales. This created a basis for quick and cost-efficient expansion, compared to the competition. At this time, there are 137 employees. „Our good relations to our house bank also contributed to the quick growth, a result of constantly reaching our targets in terms of important balance sheets and performance indices “, explains Gerhardus, who valued the banks’ trust in the stability of the company, especially during the financial crisis. Indeed, the company, which combines real estate business- and services successfully, could master the turbulence of the economic crisis and continue its growth.
Outlook: expansion and investment
The total surface of MyPlace - SelfStorage is 302,000 m² in 41 branch offices. The acquisition of the real estate and the planning phase has already been concluded and constructions are just about to begin or have started already. "With 41 operating branch offices in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart, Vienna, Graz and Zurich we can secure our market leadership in the German speaking region. The expansion and the setup of the respective regional location network is being pursued, reaching the full extent of expansion during the next years" explains Gerhardus.