5 must-haves in any warehouse
Whether it’s your first time renting a warehouse, you’ve experienced issues in the past, or just want to know you’re doing everything right, here are our five top things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.
1. A great location
Growing consumer demand for ever-faster delivery times means the location of your warehouse is a key ingredient to the success of your business, particularly if you need to serve customers quickly.
In e-commerce, the ‘Amazon effect’ has created a culture where consumers expect deliveries to be as quick as possible if they’re to be truly satisfied. Businesses need to say goodbye to three-working-day delivery times and hello to store-to-door within minutes.
If you need a space for manufacturing, you’ll also want to ensure your warehouse is conveniently located next to major transport hubs, so you can easily access the goods and materials you need.
So, before renting your industrial unit, think back to your business plan and ask:
- Will you be selling goods in the UK or internationally? You may need access to ports, airports, or freight lines.
- How will you distribute your goods? Consider third-party delivery services, local roads, motorways, and other transport routes.
- How will your team get to work? Make sure your warehouse is easily accessible. Check if there are car parking spaces, look into public transport options and consider local amenities for employees to enjoy. In most cases, having dedicated car parking spaces will give your employees the most flexibility.
- Do you need to be based in London? Consider areas outside of the congestion zone and ULEZ to save time and money. You can take a look at our warehouses situated in the South East here.
At Mileway, we have warehouses situated in and around city centres that shorten the last mile, allowing for faster delivery of goods and services. All with transport infrastructure based around the local connections available.
2. Sufficient space
You’ll also want to figure out what size warehouse you need. Typically, the size of a warehouse is measured by the overall square footage of its floor space. While you need to ensure there’s enough room to accommodate your stock, you’ll also need to consider space for other things like machinery, equipment, offices, and amenities.
One way to save space is stacking your stock to ceiling level, so it’s worth checking the height of a warehouse before leasing it. If you plan on stacking products or equipment, think about how you’ll access it – will you need forklifts or rolling ladders? If you do, will you need specially trained employees to operate them?
Another aspect to need to think about is the future. Look back to your business plan and assess whether you’re likely to expand in the next year or so and account for extra room to align with that planned growth. Also think about seasonal fluctuations in your market, which might change the amount of stock you’ll be storing. By analysing your industry and predicting whether demand is likely to increase or decrease, it’s that much easier to match stock and storage accordingly.
Here at Mileway, we have properties of all shapes and sizes right across the country, so we can quickly and easily accommodate the growth or relocation of your business. You should also speak to your landlord about your future plans, as that may significantly minimise the time and cost of your business extension and optimisation.
You may also want to ask about temporary extra space that helps you meet higher demand during seasonal peaks.
3. Easy access and transport links
Next up on the list is thinking about how your employees, or any fleets of vehicles, will access your warehouse space. Many of our customers need vehicle access for deliveries and unloading, and making sure everything is in check before leasing the space makes a big difference to smooth operations, and decreases the likelihood of orders being delayed.
Can vehicles drive directly up to your warehouse? Check permit requirements and accessible areas for larger vehicles like fleets and lorries.
Is there enough room for large lorries to turn around? If not, you may need to consider looking elsewhere.
If you need to distribute large quantities of goods, are there sufficient facilities for loading and unloading? You should also look for loading doors and bays.
Do you need parking areas? If you run a smaller operation, loading doors might not be necessary, but you’ll want to know that there are enough parking spaces for everyone in your team. If you have electric vehicles, it’s worth asking if electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are available or if they should be invested in.
Think about who’ll be using parking the most and see if it’s possible to park and/or load vehicles outside the warehouse overnight – if that’s what you need to do.
4. Essential facilities and extra features
Now it’s time to think about what else you might need and want within your warehouse to support operations.
If you have employees, they’re your most important asset. If you need a working office for them, you’ll need to consider things like WiFi, heating, lighting and cooling, electrical supply, washrooms, water supply, and any other amenities. In commercial warehouse leases, the ‘fit-out’ as it’s called is normally the responsibility of the business renting the property, so it’s worth thinking about how much budget you need to set aside for this. With quality space and new workplace innovations like chill-out zones and social spaces becoming increasingly important, it can help with employee recruitment and brand differentiation.
You should also consider the wide estate and location in general and whether the security on site aligns with your business’ needs. Sometimes, warehouses may be equipped with CCTV, perimeter fencing and security alarms or even have security guards or gated access as part of the service charge for the estate.
When it comes to the energy efficiency of your warehouse, there are measures you can put in place alongside your landlord to improve it. For example, investing in things like Light Emitting Diodes (LED), solar photovoltaic panels and EV charging stations can significantly reduce the energy consumption of your warehouse, helping you save money on energy bills. We recommend discussing this with your future landlord and seeing what’s possible. This article is a great place to find out more about energy efficiency in your warehouse.
5. Lease terms that work now, and in the future
Last but not least, think about how long you want to lease the warehouse for. The right amount of time will depend on how you see your business growing. If you’re predicting a rapid expansion, then you’ll want a shorter lease for flexibility. On the other hand, if you see your business staying stable for years to come, then it could be better to look for a longer lease.
Of course, the future can be difficult to plan for, so if you’re unsure, have open conversations with your potential landlord and ask any questions. Considering your ambitions before you lease a warehouse will increase your chances of getting the decision right.
At Mileway, we understand that businesses can change and grow within a lease period. So, we can support your expansion into a new space from our extensive portfolio, even if you do have time left on your lease.
If you’re on the hunt for warehouse space, we cater for businesses of all sizes. Search for a property in any of our regions here.