What drew you to run a self-storage business?
It’s a good question, and one that I’ve often reflected on myself. Having left Reading University where I studied Business Management, I spent a year as Sports & PE teacher before then deciding to train as a chartered surveyor. After a further couple of years, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, I decided to return ‘home’ with a plan to get involved in the family business (agriculture, poultry and a modest residential & commercial property portfolio). Before long I realised that I wasn’t really needed in the family business and that my real aspirations were to start a business of my own. I initially tried to secure planning permission for a storage facility on the farm to help diversify our current activities but, unfortunately, the local authority didn’t look favourably upon my proposals. By this point, having spent months and months planning the business, I’d already made up my mind that this was something I desperately wanted to pursue. Around a year or so later I came across a potential site on the edge of Grantham, which I set about acquiring, and in July 2017 PadStore was founded and we commenced trading later that same year.
What does a standard day consist of as a Director of PadStore?
Ha-ha! It very much depends on who you ask! Some would have you believe that I live a life of riley, but, as a director in any business, there are mentally busy days and others that are less chaotic. Initially I had to be a real ‘Jack of all trades’. I was my own assistant, accountant, bookkeeper, groundsman, marketeer, website designer, customer liaison, administrator and general dogsbody. As time went on and the business grew, I managed to get the proper systems and processes in place to better manage my time and uphold the service to our customers. Nowadays, thanks to the fantastic, very competent and efficient support of my colleague Sarah, I spend far less time racing around like a madman and tend to focus on the future growth and direction of the business. I still get my hands dirty though; I still tend to all the maintenance and routine jobs on every site on a regular basis (this ensures that I’m always up to speed with what’s going on, can deal with things that require attention, and that everything looks smart and functions properly for our customers). Also, as a 24hr service, the business never sleeps so there’s always a phone call to take, an email [or 155] to respond to, or something that needs dealing with after hours and over the weekends. No two days are ever the same though, I love my job and I love providing a valued service to our customers.
What sets PadStore apart from other self-storage providers?
I’d like to think that PadStore goes above and beyond to ensure our customers are happy, and that the entire process of storing with us is made as easy and simple as possible. All too often, in lots of businesses and industries, customers appear to be an afterthought. We started with the customer and asked ourselves “If we needed storage, if we’d never used self-storage before, if we were in a real rush and had a million and one other things we needed to sort, what would we want from a storage facility?” We make everything as quick, easy, seamless and efficient as possible for our customers. Booking is easy, payment is easy, communications and instructions are easy, when they arrive to start storing everything is ready for them, no waiting around, no hassle, and everything is clean and tidy. In everything we do we imagine ourselves in the position of the customer and build everything around what we’d want and expect. Without our customers we don’t have a business, so in our business our customers always come first and they’re always foremost in our minds in everything we do.
Have you used self-storage before?
Funnily enough, no, I hadn’t used storage before…until my wife (Lizzie) came along. We undertook some renovations to our home in 2021 and now have a storage unit at our Grantham site. In fairness the house was getting rather cluttered and messy but, apparently, according to Lizzie (our resident ‘neat freak’), everything now needs to have an “appropriate” home inside a cupboard, wardrobe or drawer. We don’t have much loft space at home, so any of the ‘old’ furniture and possessions that we didn’t want to part with (along with a lot of paperwork, Christmas decorations and even excess clothing) is now in our very own container at Grantham. Within a couple of months, the container was absolute chaos – anything I ever wanted to find (or got sent to collect by Lizzie) was always at the back of the container and under a mountain of other stuff. So, after Christmas this year, having battled for ages to find all the decorations in the first place, I decided to install some racking and motion sensor LED lights so that we now have full and easy access to all our things. I can’t now imagine life without our container…I love it!!
How do you ensure the sites and the storage containers are kept to the highest standard?
As I touched upon before, I always like to visit and tend to the sites myself, as frequently as possible, to ensure that everything continues to operate and look as it all should. At PadStore we pride ourselves on providing services and facilities that are, in our opinion, a cut above the rest. Very few storage facilities, if any, are as neat and tidy as ours. We strategically position containers in such a way that allows vehicles to easily access site and drive right up to their units without any pinch-points, tight turning angles or restricted passing-points. Other storage facilities cram their units in really close together to maximise capacity and revenue – this makes good business sense but is to the detriment of the customer experience and usage, so we don’t overcrowd our sites and prefer to keep customers happy. When it comes to the containers themselves, we always buy the very best new containers money can buy. These arrive with us just a few months after they’re manufactured overseas and have only ever been used once on their journey over to the UK. We ensure our containers have the maximum number of vents to increase natural airflow and minimise the risk of condensation. Each and every container is always thoroughly cleaned inside each time someone vacates so that it’s in the very best condition for the incoming customer to store their goods and possessions. We even have a professional pest control programme in place for our sites through 'FenFarm Partnership' for added peace of mind beyond the fact that the containers are already vermin-proof. We also take security extremely seriously. Every site has a monitored GSM access control system for the electric gates (mobile phone operated so that fobs and codes cannot be lost or handed around), full perimeter security fencing, intelligent PIR CCTV systems, and every container comes with the highest-grade industry-leading patented padlock (meaning that keys cannot be copied by anyone other than ourselves) which is further protected behind a lock shroud on the doors.