March 10, 2020
Opening any franchise, especially if the concept in question is a turnkey package, starts the owner on a journey toward success with a huge head start that independent startups do not get.
That is twice as true for Brian Lee, a principal in Hawaii & San Francisco Development Company, based in San Leandro, California, that owns UNITS Moving and Portable Storage of San Francisco – East Bay, CA.
For an entrepreneur with his irons in multiple fires, the ability to launch a turnkey business and exercise semi-absentee ownership is crucial. We talked with Brian about his experience as a UNITS Moving and Portable Storage franchisee and as part of a $38 billion industry.
How did you get started as a franchisee?
Brian Lee: We bought an existing franchise in September 2019. It’s in an area that’s been in the UNITS system for many years. The original owners built it from the ground up into a successful operation that now has more than 600 storage containers. They started it, and I can only hope to run it as well as they did.
Why did you choose a portable storage franchise concept rather than a fixed-location storage facility?
Brian Lee: I was searching for storage opportunities and by chance just found an ad listing a portable storage business for sale. I didn’t know anything about the portable industry. So, I did a little research and talked to the previous owners a lot about their business.
The portable storage industry is, I believe, really something that we can count on in the future. This is the way business is transacted now; we as consumers want things delivered to us rather than going to them.
Think about Amazon and Grubhub, businesses that bring their product to you. In portable storage, we do the same. I don’t think self-storage is going away, but I believe that portable storage is definitely here to move forward and take care of the customers who really don’t want to be bothered with bringing their stuff to storage units.
UNITS offers two franchise models, a full-time owner-operator concept and semi-absentee ownership. Why was the semi-absentee model appealing to you as an entrepreneur?
Brian Lee: Since I operate other businesses, I personally am not running any of them full time. I have a partner who is there at the UNITS business three days a week, and we were lucky enough to inherit a great operations manager who had been with the previous owners for the past seven or eight years already.
A UNITS Moving and Portable Storage franchise is described as a “turnkey” operation, indicating it has most of what you need to get started with the business right away. Has that proven to be accurate in your experience?
Brian Lee: Well, as I said, since we bought an existing operation, we found that a lot of the systems were already in place. But we are finding that there are some items that the previous owner could have done a little bit differently.
For example, we plan to utilize technological tools and systems from the UNITS company more, which are already available to us, such as BIZ HUB, which is proprietary software for tracking, managing, and converting leads into sales.
We still have plenty of room to grow.
You mentioned that you took over around 600 containers when you bought the franchise. Do you have plans to increase that number incrementally and scale the business up?
Brian Lee: That was only several months ago when we purchased the franchise, and we were newer, going into the slower season, which gave us a great opportunity to learn the business and slowly integrate.
We inherited a lot of containers, so we haven’t made an order for more yet, but we anticipate making an order in the second quarter of 2020. That scalability is one of the things about portable storage that attracted us to the industry.
What has been your experience so far with UNITS Moving and Portable Storage?
Brian Lee: I’m appreciative of all the support that we’ve been receiving from UNITS corporate. The people they have in place have been extremely helpful, and they’re very knowledgeable. They have really pushed us to the next level.
We’ve also been able to join committees that were created since our recent leadership conference, and that was really important, to be able to have a say in certain matters.
It’s also exciting to meet and network with other franchisees and get ideas and strategies from all across the country.
Founded by Michael McAlhany in 2004, the mission of UNITS Moving and Portable Storage is to provide personal customer service while supplying the most innovative equipment associated with the moving and storage business.
UNITS Moving and Portable Storage currently has 24 franchised and three corporate territories across the United States. With a presence in more than 40 markets, and growing, the brand is looking to expand with the right people in the right markets.
For more information on how to take advantage of this opportunity, or simply to learn more about the moving and portable storage industry, visit https://www.unitsfranchisegroup.com/ and fill out the inquiry form. We will reach out to you to talk more about your interest in our brand, and how UNITS Moving and Portable Storage can help you reach your personal and financial goals.