Self-storage industry forecast in South Africa

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Looking into the future has always interested me as a logical thinker. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 we have seen many changes in social behavior and the workspace we so loved for 8 hours of every day.

The singular office culture that had befallen society for the last 100 years was torn to shreds and people were evicted from their comfort zones and sent to work remotely from home. In light of this paradigm shift which I have personally been working toward since 2012 when I realized that I personally cannot work from a single function space. I have searched and searched for creative spaces where people like myself can operate my business and follow other passions while waiting for people to respond and perform the functions they do daily. Note that in no way do I feel that I am alone, more and more people I have chatted to feel similarly restricted by the old age single function workspace or office.

We definitely need office spaces to be kept and maintained for various functions such as training, team building and creativity from the team to build our companies coherently in this fast-moving dynamic new world. The main difference is that the office we use today for a meeting and analysis meeting is not the same one we need for a team to discuss and create marketing strategies for the company or industry we are involved in. It would also require a different space for new team members to learn about what is being done currently in order for them to be productive and develop the new way of thinking required to evolve into multi-skilled team players. Gone are the days that we have a singular function and a singular path for the next 20 years.

I just look at my history in work experience for the last 35 years and see I have gone from store manager to environmental officer at Anglo American in the early 90’s and had hardware shops that supplied my construction and property maintenance companies for many years. After the 1995 economic decline, I closed them all and did several other jobs from Micro money lending for banks, restaurateur and handyman at which I did relatively well. All the time studying and growing my knowledge base to suit different industries in and around South Africa. The ever-changing horizon of business seemed to be where I felt most comfortable so when I discovered self-storage some 17 years ago I was excited as I could see the potential growth and marketability of such a service with the added incentive that if you owned some of them you could have a passive income for life that would keep up with inflation regardless of the economic climate in any country.

When the pandemic hit and everyone was running around like headless chickens the storage industry was ready and waiting to assist in the change. Most successful storage companies use online software to manage their many sites as it complies with the POPI act and gives management instant live access to relevant information and customers can book online to reduce physical contact as well.

The vacuum left in the property market in the office space will be devastating to many property RIET around the world, South Africa will be no different. These massive buildings with their expensive infrastructure in prime locations make them great opportunities to redevelop into dedicated self-storage facilities with fantastic long-term income potential albeit at a reduced level of income by 20% on average the running costs will be reduced accordingly and so will all the sundry property costs within the structure as it will no longer be a multiuse property. On average the actual income stream could possibly break even with the old office space income-generating clientele, the advantage will be that as you own the building and manage it. The value calculation will be extended to a 20-year valuation that grows on average 6%. This constant cash flow will prove to be the backbone of many new ventures while the market adjusts to the new norm.

The saying goes fortune favors the brave and those property owners who do not step in early will miss completely this opportunity to rearrange their portfolio to smooth out their income stream for the next 20 years. During this transition, there will be a myriad of other opportunities that take place but few that are as tried and trusted as the self-storage industry worldwide.

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