Renting a warehouse for the first time is an exciting yet overwhelming thing. You’ve finally built up a business enough that you need to manage your own stock, but how do you find the best warehouse for your requirements?
Getting your warehouse management wrong could cost you significant amounts of cash. Errors in picking, packing, and distribution affect your profit margin and can also damage your reputation.
Before you sign your first warehouse lease it’s essential to make sure you’re getting the right space for your stock and logistics needs.
Essential Questions to Ask Before Renting a Warehouse
When you conduct a site visit to a potential warehouse space, keep this list of questions close by. Make sure you have every single one answered to your satisfaction before signing the lease!
1. Are Special Stock Requirements Catered For?
Do you handle perishable goods, for example, that require constant refrigeration? Find out if the warehouse has the potential – or is already equipped – to handle these unique requirements.
Consider the security of your stock, too. Hazardous materials, for example, will require special storage zones and secure access. You’ll also need to check there’s room for safe evacuation if something goes wrong with these products.
2. What Equipment Comes Included?
Warehouse leases vary depending on the business model. Are you renting an empty warehouse that requires you to lay out significant capital to invest in all of the equipment? Or will you rent space in an already-equipped warehouse?
An equipped warehouse is ideal when you’re testing the waters for a new project or business. You’ll take advantage of existing RFID tracking and picking robots, for example, to learn what works best for your business model.
However, if you’re looking to expand from your existing in-house stock management and distribution, it could be time to invest in your own warehouse equipment.
If you only need storage, picking, and packing for a short period of time consider renting an area in an equipped warehouse and fulfillment center instead. This will reduce your annual overheads while you benefit from the expertise of a qualified logistics and fulfillment company.
3. Is There Room to Expand (But Not Too Much Excess Space)?
You don’t want lots of unused space – but there needs to be plenty of room to expand. Look at the ceiling height, too: how much can you safely stack vertically? Storing items like this reduces the square meterage you’ll need for the same amount of stock.
You need room to move around the warehouse safely, too. This includes clear receiving and distribution zones: putting these areas too close together risks confusion in stock and a build-up of pallets in high-traffic areas.
4. What Are the Estimated Annual Running Costs?
The annual running costs of a warehouse quickly mount up. How much will it cost to provide heating, air conditioning, refrigeration services, and electricity to your warehouse?
The average running costs vary from city to city, too. Electricity for a warehouse in Oakland costs an average of $314,208 per year – almost double that of Denver. Make sure you take this into consideration when finding the perfect location for your warehouse.
5. Can Staff Commute and Park Easily on Site?
It’s great having the perfect warehouse – until you realize your staff can’t easily get to it.
Your business runs as much on your staff as your stock, so make sure that your warehouse location and amenities draw talent to your business, too. Free car parking, easy public transport access, and staff break areas are all things you’ll need to consider before you sign a warehouse lease.
6. What Zoning Permissions Do I Need?
Industrial warehouses are cheaper but don’t be fooled: if you’re a retailer, you’ll need to have the permission to use the warehouse as a retail stock center.
Check the current zoning permissions for the warehouse you’re interested in. If it’s not the right one for your business, find out if there is a possibility of having a change of zoning permission granted – and if the landlord is willing to do this.
7. Can Delivery Trucks Easily Access the Site?
You need to get your stock in and out efficiently and without logistical issues. A loading bay that backs onto a busy road or a tight corner, for example, will cause unnecessary delays.
Your warehouse needs to be near access routes that the largest trucks you employ can use. If you’re only delivering small packages in a mail delivery van, for example, then you won’t need room for 18-wheeler trucks.
You’ll also need to check the turning circle on-site and whether you’ll be expected to share the dock or access roads with other companies. Their delays could become yours, so take this into consideration if you have to share.
Finally, consider your stock and the dock type. A loading area exposed to the elements is harder to control in inclement weather; a closed loading area can take extra essential square meterage from your warehouse operations.
8. What Is the Floor Load Limit?
If you want to install very heavy equipment or stock it’s essential that you check the floor load limit of your potential warehouse and loading bay.
Check with the landlord if they’re willing to have heavy loads installed or floors upgraded to handle them.
9. Who Is Responsible for Warehouse Building Maintenance?
You’re responsible for running the business from the warehouse, and your own equipment, but what about the rest? Find out exactly what you’re responsible for when it comes to building maintenance.
Does a building maintenance contractor come included with your rent? How will building repairs be completed? What are the timescale expectations for repairs? All of these will impact the success of your business operations, so it’s essential you know who handles what.
10. What’s the Minimum Lease (And Can I Arrange a Buyout)?
Longer warehouse leases are more cost-effective and ideal for established businesses investing capital in their own warehouse machinery.
However, you may only need a short lease while your business grows or to handle seasonal requirements. Find out what the minimum lease is and the terms of payment.
Things change over time, too. If you suddenly have to move warehouses, such as unexpected exponential business growth, find out if you can add a buyout clause to the lease.
A buyout clause allows you to buy the lease out in a shorter time period than the time left on the lease; you could also see if you could exit the lease by finding a subcontractor for it.
Find Warehouse Services in Connecticut
Renting a warehouse becomes easier when you’re dealing with experts in logistics and fulfillment. They’ll understand exactly what you need from your warehouse services – and if you need your own warehouse, or if a distribution service would be better for you.
Speak to our team today to find out if you’re ready to sign your first warehouse lease – or if a fulfillment center would suit your business better.