An interview with: WillScot
What does WillScot do?
WillScot provides limitless options to anyone looking for a temporary solution for storage or office needs. We offer turn-key products and services to accommodate our customers with short, medium or long-term needs.
“Let us handle your space needs so you can focus on building your business.”
How long have you been in business?
We have over 50 years of experience and operate over 120 locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Originally, we started out serving the construction industry, but have rapidly grown into a full turn-key operation for any industry looking for mobile space and storage solutions.
Who are your customers?
Our customers represent a wide range of industries.
Some of these include:
- Sports & Leisure
- Security & Public Safety
- Events & Hospitality
- Disaster Recovery
Generally speaking, we have two types of customers:
1. Customers who know exactly what they want.
These customers come to us with a vision and a very specific idea of how we can meet their space needs. In many cases, they are customers who have used us before. For them, there is not a lot of time spent on the discovery phase of the process because they already know what they need.
2. Customers who don’t know what they want or what products we offer.
With these customers, we spend a lot of time on the discovery phase to clarify what they need. We ask probing questions, such as: How long do you need the space? What will you be using it for? What do you want to get out of the space?
We want to fully understand the philosophy of our customers and what they want to get out of our product before we start making recommendations. In a lot of cases, our customers will come to us with a temporary need, but end up wanting something for a much longer amount of time.
“We want to fully understand the philosophy of our customers and what they want to get out of our product before we start making recommendations.”
What products/services does your company offer?
- Mobile Offices – A short-term office space suitable for many industries, that comes in a range of sizes, with the single-wide being the most popular.
- Section Modulars – A defined space that can range from a double wide up to 25 units to create a complex. Provides a more permanent, long term solution for space needs.
- Storage Containers – A CONEX shipping container that provides temporary storage or can be retrofitted into an office. Can be placed directly on the ground; often used on construction sites for short term projects.
- Redi- Plex Product – A modular solution designed in a factory that is easily manipulated. It offers column-less space that can remain open or be customized with walls, comes on wheels and axis. Can use one Redi-Plex or as many as needed to create the space desired.
- Flex Product – A European product that has been successful in other countries for quite some time. Flex is currently available in a limited market area throughout the United States and Canada. Our Flex products can range in size from a single 8×20 unit to multiple units that can stack up to 3 stories high.
What is unique about your Flex Product?
It is much more flexible and versatile than the typical mobile/modular solution. Because it is made of panels, rather than the standard pre-assembled framework of most modular buildings. It can fit the smallest of footprints, be L-shaped, have multiple stories and have walls placed wherever you want them.
What are your most popular products?
Our single-wide mobile office is one of our most popular products. There is a high demand for these, especially in the construction industry.
Our container offices (CONEX boxes retro-fitted as office space) are also in high demand. These offer great solutions for temporary space needs.
What is the typical process for a new customer?
Our typical process looks like this:
- Clarify the customer’s needs and what they want out of a mobile/modular solution.
- Decide on a floor plan.
- Choose the product that best fits their needs.
- Inspect the product.
- Schedule delivery.
- Prep the site – ensure that it is accessible, level, free of blockage (no trees or stumps).
- Deliver the product.
- Secure the product onsite.
“All of our products undergo a 30-point quality inspection.”
Do you offer the option to purchase or lease your products?
Yes, we offer both options. Most of our customers choose to lease, mainly because their need for space is temporary. We provide leases for as short as one month to as long as they need, sometimes for years. We do offer a portion of our fleet for purchase. We also offer a lease to purchase option through a third party vendor. Basically, we try to meet the space/storage needs of our customers, whatever their time frame may be.
Who handles the permitting process? You or the customer?
Generally speaking, we help our customers through the permitting process by referring them to the appropriate contacts to find out what is required in their local area.
Permitting requirements are different for every state, county, and city. In many cases, our customers are working with a general contractor who usually handles the permitting process.
The permitting process can take anywhere from a week up to 2-3 months, depending on the site location and authorities.
What differentiates you from your competitors?
If you look at the product; it’s very similar across the board. But when it comes to service, we provide our customers with the best of the best, thanks to our sales and operations team. We conduct a rigorous hiring and training process for all of our employees. For example, we don’t just train our service guys on basic installation, but provide a deeper understanding of how to recognize issues and handle complex repairs. We want to take that extra step with our employees to make sure they provide the highest quality service out there.
“When it comes to service, we provide our customers with the best of the best…”
Are there any common misconceptions about mobile and modular products?
A lot of people still associate mobile structures with those old, beat-up buildings that look ugly and unsturdy. But once they come to us and see our products and the service we offer, they quickly come around.
What would you tell someone who is shopping for mobile products?
- Recognize that the space will be your office. You want a place that is comfortable, sturdy and functional.
- You get what you pay for. You may find a great deal, but is it high quality?
What trends do you see in your industry?
Even during the economic downturn, we’ve seen a pretty dramatic acceleration in the mobile and storage industries. It’s no longer just construction and education looking for temporary space. We have started to see an increase in the demand from other markets, such as oil and gas, government, and event sites.
What makes you the most excited for the future of your industry?
The introduction of our Flex product is definitely something new and exciting for WillScot.
We also deliver our units ready to work by providing customers everything they need to be productive from day one. That means when you call WillScot, it’s the only call you will need to make. There’s no more dealing with multiple vendors, POs, contracts, coordination and other startup headaches. Instead you get perfectly configured workspace that your people can move into and be ready to work immediately.
What do you enjoy most about WillScot?
I love that it is a flexible business that serves a wide variety of customers. I will be working at an air force base one day, then a high-profile sporting event like the Super Bowl another day. It’s pretty amazing to be able to draw out a building, then watch it go up right before your eyes.
Any notable projects you would like to tell us about?
Yes. On Monday, April 27, 2015, Baltimore City erupted in chaos with violence, vandalism and looting after a young man died in police custody under questionable circumstances. By the time the mayor declared a citywide curfew, numerous city businesses had been broken into, burned and/or inoperable. A Rite Aid near the city center was one of those business victims. The store’s management was committed to reopening and serving its customers as quickly as possible. Lobar Associates, one of Rite Aid’s preferred contractors and a WillScot customer, was contacted to develop a temporary site to serve Rite Aid customers as they rebuilt their store. After quick but careful review of the proposal, WillScot was selected by Rite Aid because they were best positioned to deliver a quality solution that met the urgent timeline of the project. Within 8 days, WillScot had 1,632 square feet of commercial space ready for Rite Aid occupancy.
How has 360 Connect helped you grow your business?
360Connect has helped connect us with customers who are ready to buy. They provide the leads, which frees our team up to focus on interested buyers, rather than having to spend a tremendous amount of effort on searching for customers.