An independent self storage operator based in London, England, has won an industry award for innovation. Attic Self Storage, based in Bow, East London, won the Federation of European Self Storage Associations (FEDESSA) Award for Outstanding Business Initiative 2016. The highly prized award saw three finalists competing for top honours, although Attic was by far and away the smallest, with both the other finalists being significantly larger, multi-site businesses operating across both the UK and Europe.
Frederic de Ryckman de Betz, director & founder of Attic, said “Winning this award is fantastic. It’s hard to put into words what this represents for us. While it can sometimes be easier for small businesses to innovate, as they have less inertia and fewer internal obstacles, there are also some very real challenges – small businesses can often lack the financial and human resources needed to bring new ideas to life.” The award was presented at a glamorous gala dinner hosted by FEDESSA in Barcelona, Spain, and marking the end of the 2016 annual European self storage conference. The conference itself proved hugely successful and the best attended so far, with over 430 delegates, and presented by the unique and inimitable Mark Durden-Smith. “I’ve been to every conference since 2006 bar one, and this was the best one to date” commented Frederic. “For the first time ever, all 5 CEOs of the global self storage associations were present in one place. To be recognised for our initiative in front of the pioneers and leaders of our industry on a global level was very special.” Attic Self Storage won the award for a technology innovation centred on its website. For the first time, customers in the UK will be able not only to get a quote for storage space online, but also to conduct the entire move-in process online, from the comfort of their own home – including completing the necessary security and identity checks, and viewing / amending all their account details. Attic has estimated that this will reduce the average amount of time clients are required to spend in reception on move-in day from 15 minutes down to less than 5 minutes. Further changes will reduce this to less than 30 seconds. Rennie Schafer, FEDESSA CEO said “The online booking system at Attic Self Storage is truly innovative in the way it completely automates the entire booking process, allowing customers to book a unit online whenever they want, including verification of customer ID.” The judges commented on the entry from Attic Self Storage “The whole experience is focused on the customer, makes it very easy for them to select the unit they need, and complete the entire booking process online” “The headline-grabbing elements of our innovation are obviously those which are client-facing” said Frederic. “You can see those on the website. But the really big wins, as far as we’re concerned, aren’t client facing. Over the next six months, we have a programme for a staged roll-out of a variety of new elements which will position our business extremely strongly for the future on the technology side. Some of those will be visible, some won’t be.” Although Attic currently only occupies a single site in Bow, East London, a second site is due to open imminently on York Way, near King’s Cross in central London, following ten months of planning and construction. This will almost double Attic’s capacity from 750 storage units (40,000 square feet of net lettable space) to 1,500 units (76,000 square feet of net lettable space). “For a business as small as ours to have this idea; to be told by some in the industry “that’s not how we do things” but be willing to persist anyway, believing we could change things; and then to find the human and financial resource, while at the same time pushing to get a second store open, has been a real challenge. But we’ve shown we have the talent – to have the ideas, to believe in them, to make them happen and to grow the business. We can’t wait for 2017.” Attic is currently in talks to expand the business further, with exciting plans in the pipeline. It seems almost inevitable that further awards will follow in due course.