Start a Shipping Container Rental Business

A container rental business rents out shipping containers for a period of time to people looking for temporary facilities.

Business Model
We’ve looked at the rental business extensively before: stages, racing simulators, photo booths, catering hiring, pool tables, scaffolding, tent & marquee, popcorn, candy-floss & slush machines, temporary fence, mini golf courses, wedding dresses & bridal gowns, car hire and more.

An asset is acquired; this asset is then rented out for a fee over a time period to various clients. There are some important metrics to consider and some lesser important. The most important is the break-even period and the wear and tear on the asset. The lesser important is transportation and related labour, like some stuff, needs to be setup. Another thing to look at is the time period the asset is being rented out for, the shorter period, the more profitable but with more labour involved.

This business ticks some nice boxes, break-even can be achieved within six months per container if rented out on a monthly basis if you are able to do the conversion or refurbishing yourself (sooner for shorter periods but more work involved). It is a durable structure without a lot of moving parts; it was made for all types of weather conditions. But no business is easy and this business has some challenges in the transport department but I’ll get to that later.

Why rental is a good business
The most common rental item in South Africa is probably tool hire, instead of buying a tool you are only going to use now and then you can rent it for a day or as long as a job will take you. Not only that, if you are a small business you can have access to a tool without outlaying money that will eat into profits and later on you can buy that tool if you can afford to and use it often enough.

The shipping container rental business is similar people rent out shipping containers for storage, site offices, shops and even to live in. A shipping container is an excellent temporary structure as the setup period is almost immediate.

Need a ticket office for the day? Shipping container
Need a place to live while building on your plot? Just put up a shipping container, while building your garage. Then live in your garage while the rest of the house is built.
Want to open a shop quickly? Use a shipping container etc.

The path to profitability
This business is fairly straightforward, the shipping container is acquired and refurbished and converted to its purpose. As I mentioned before if you can do the refurbishing and conversion yourself you will break-even sooner, this is because refurbished and converted containers sell at a premium.

You need a yard or a large plot to do the refurbishment and the storage, other than that there is not a lot of need for other facilities in the yard. You can use a shipping container as the office and to store tools.

Once a container is hired, paperwork is complete and deposit paid. The container now has to be transported to the site. If you are just starting out, this is something that you can outsource, obviously, it’s going to eat into your profits but there is a way to offset this cost, either by incorporating it into the cost or spread it over a period of time – especially if it’s a longer term rental. Otherwise, just charge the client a drop off and collection fee.

Image credit: intercubecontainers