Moving and storage in New York City tends to be very similar year to year. But, just like everything else in 2020, Manhattan Mini Storage has had to adapt and change to work around COVID-19. We took a moment to talk with our President, Adam Steckler, about the industry and what New Yorkers need to know about moving and storing this spring and summer.
What trends do you usually see in the spring for people moving and storing in NYC and how are those different this year?
Our busiest time of year is usually the spring. The high season for moving and storage in NYC always begins with students moving out at the end of the semester in May. Then it will stay busy through June as the weather tends to be nicer – people find a new apartment, decluttering, and changing out seasonal items in spring. As the weather gets hotter, the need for storage cools down in July and August. This year was different: the student rush came in March as schools closed their dorms during spring break due to health and safety concerns. We’re starting to see more people move and store now, more to take a temporary break from the City. We’re able to help a lot of people keep one foot here even if what they want to achieve in NYC isn’t an option at the moment.
In what ways have moving and storage providers adapted to meet this year’s unique needs?
As we deal with COVID-19, communication has changed throughout the moving and storage process.
Many more transactions are happening online, some by necessity and others by choice. More customers are using online account management and automatic payments. We’re also seeing increased use of our Full Service Plus storage option where we move and store your belongings for you. Full Service Plus pick-ups are scheduled through our website and customers receive a digital inventory of their stored items.
We’ve been talking more to our moving partners and the moving community behind the scenes too as we want to make sure their teams are trained on proper safety procedures and wearing protective gear like gloves and masks. It’s essential to our customer experience. We’re relying on our partners to make sure items are transported to storage safely while we have temporarily suspended our Free Storage Shuttle. We hope to have the shuttle back up and running soon with safety measures added so customers can safely ride with the drivers.
And most importantly we’re doing a lot of outreach to check in with our customers as they face their own uncertainty. We know a lot of people are struggling with loss and unemployment. We’ve suspended rate increases and auctions.
What long term changes do you see to the moving and storing process in the city?
On the moving side, things will need to be scheduled even further in advance than in the past. People should check with their building’s ownership about any new lobby flow logistics and elevator capacity limits. New Yorkers are used to those kinds of considerations, but with social distancing concerns it adds a whole new factor to the mix. And our moving partners are busier than ever. They are using smaller crews to ensure lower contact between themselves and their customers. Also, movers have always traditionally been busier on the weekends and at the beginning and the end of the month. With more people working-from-home there are fewer slow days to schedule a move.
We’re connecting with other storage providers through webinars to share best practices of what we’ve learned so far. There are more storage facilities across the U.S. than many well-known fast-food restaurants and we’re all working together to find out what works best. We’re being flexible and trying to serve our community in whatever way they need, to help them through this challenge.