Staff talking to a customer

Locker Locker – Self Storage in the Chinese Market

Staff and customer in storage units

One of the newest Self Storage operators in China, Locker Locker is the brainchild of local Shenzen business duo Charlotte Sun and Lawrence Yam.

Locker Locker’s ambitions are to be part of a pioneering group currently spearheading the launch of the self storage industry in China. Initially growing in their local area the plan is to expand into a large operator with a chain of facilities located in as many of China’s major cities and industrial zones as practical, creating brand recognition through delivery a high standard services.

Their company philosophy is quality and education: as Locker Locker expands, confidence will grow with their customer base. Chinese consumers like larger companies. Time will tell, but its Locker Locker’s clear ambition to give customers peace of mind knowing that, if something goes wrong that they have a head office to complain to.

Locker Locker opened its first store recently in Shenzen, Guangdong Province. China’s population is 1.35 billion and with a burgeoning middle-class its estimated to be close to 500 million, well in excess of the entire population of the United States and is growing fast. Ideal customers!

China is a country that will benefit from Self Storage probably more than any other country and Locker Locker is at the forefront of creating affordable and convenient solutions for the age-old problem of people who do not have enough space.

Canadian and British team members were brought in to help develop the company and the idea of self storage came from abroad. With that in mind the owners set forth on a major educational fact finding mission and the business model included field trips to facilities in the UK, Canada, Northern Europe and Hong Kong,. They met with existing operators and construction companies in three separate continents. They joined self storage Associations and educated themselves wherever they could.

Locker Locker’s first venture was not without its own challenges; like all construction projects they had to research site options, undertake difficult negotiations with local officials and try to educate people who had never heard of the self storage concept and overcome the perceived risks that the facility could present.

The extra mile that Locker Locker took paid dividend as they have certainly built a class leading product that really demonstrates the power of self storage to the local community. It is important at this early stage of the development of the industry that good quality facilities are built, educating the market.

Locker Locker identified a suitable location within a densely populated urban location and Co owner Lawrence Yam project managed the construction project to the highest standards, providing construction workers with detailed designs. The builders had never heard or even seen self storage before, so it’s a testament to the diligence of the owners that they constructed a first-class facility on par with more established western operators, developing a clear standard for self storage in the southern China region.

LockerLocker set out to stand out immediately and create major impact and to set a new level of quality design and fit out. The latest IP CCTV solution, complete with remote viewing capability over the Internet was installed with a remote monitoring station which is manned 24/7.

The marketing strategy for Locker Locker was deliberated on over some months and Brand identity would play a major part persuading a society not yet familiar with self storage.

“Locker Locker” was decided as the brand providing instant appeal with the name providing an idea of the services offered. Logos and signage were made up and luminescent lights hang from the side of the facility building, which is located in a densely populated neighbourhood next to a main arterial road cutting through the city.

Staff and customer in storage units

A significant feature of Locker Locker’s value proposition and to leap ahead of the existing competition was to deliver an operational business model closely aligned with the already proven successful and established western operators. Launching in a part of the world where Self Storage is still in its infancy presented a wide range of challenges including management, intellectual and technical . After a thorough market review and with technology and communications rapidly evolving it was crucial a tech savvy decision was to be made regarding the way we manage our new self-storage company. The founders were looking for a solution which not only incorporated the facility website, offered a cloud based option to minimise local IT overheads such as technical skills, hardware and data protection vulnerabilities. Also while centralising many of the day to day operational tasks from room bookings, taking/chasing payments, revenue management, staff management Financial reporting and yield maximisation.

After the extensive search there was a clear winner in SiteLink Web Edition the International Version the global Self Storage storage management software market leader. With its feature rich capabilities, SiteLink Web Edition delivers considerable ROI within almost every area imaginable when running a Self Storage operation. Employees and managers can perform their daily tasks and SiteLink Web Edition enables anyone to perform their tasks better while senior management can track virtually every aspect of then daily operation from any location. The introduction of SiteLink has centralised and streamlined the whole operation freeing up more time for marketing campaigns and expansion activity alleviating the daily mire in day-to-day operational tasks.

“SiteLink Web Edition is supported by an extremely proactive team aiding in many areas for its customers through extensive knowledge of the Self Storage industry and available in many languages which conveniently for us includes Mandarin. Since the product is constantly evolving, introducing new features to assist the customer base its creates immense confidence this is the right choice software to be at the core managing our enterprise. With the advantages SiteLink offers us, we know it strengthens our commercial objectives to rise rapidly within the growing China market”. IT Director Martin Sherwood said. The recent addition of a Mandarin speaking Technical support engineer is very welcome.

The company’s Chevy SUV was emblazoned by humorous graphics clearly illustrating the benefits of self storage and the SUV is driven across the city each day. The website is also published in multi languages to appeal to the local Chinese community and the many Westerners who reside in the city. Locker Locker is one of the first to attempt to make self storage a viable industry in China and wants to attract individuals, corporate clients, small business and white-collar workers and foreigners.

Like many countries, China will develop and has already developed a diverse range of self storage product ranging from the almost unacceptable to top end institutional level product. Locker Locker’s ambition is to educate and create demand throughout the region, in turn raising awareness of self storage using a systematic business model to scale facilities, hopefully at a rapid rate.

Each new facility planned will provide hundreds of spaces of all shapes and sizes, suiting every demographic sector. Additional revenue streams are planned and facilities will be constructed in densely populated communities, which are easy to get to, reducing the need for long car journeys.

Company removal trucks will be available to those customers who don’t have access to a car or transport. Vehicle ownership is approximately 85 per thousand vehicles compared to nearly 800 per thousand in the United States.

Many Chinese entrepreneurs like Locker Locker are investing in storage facilities all over China providing new lifestyle flexibility and convenience to the growing middle-class, making the concept more popular with all types of people. Chinese self storage operators are reporting healthy occupancy levels which raise hope for a bright future of the industry.

There is little doubt that China and South-east Asia is poised for significant Self Storage growth and is reminiscent of the growth phase the United States and Australia enjoyed in the early years and operators have an insatiable need for knowledge. At the recent Hong Kong Expo, many new Self Storage operators were present, all wanting to know about how the veterans do it.

Chinese operators have one major advantage over their US counterparts – they have the benefit of 30 years of self storage development, they can easily find the good and bad aspects of the industry and technology overall will make their job easier than it was for the industry pioneers in the United States.

Self Storage will grow rapidly in China at a corporate level and the development of the industry will not mirror the industry’s development in the United States and Australia, where small mum and dad operators established the market.

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