Contra Costa SBDCPleasant Hill, CA

“We owe a lot to the SBDC for helping make our reality not only come true, but for us to be better prepared.”

Diana and Stuart Roberson

Company Profile: Store Inside provides indoor storage and services for valued recreational vehicles, boats and cars. As a family owned business, they care for vehicles as if they were their own, thus giving the owner more time to enjoy their toys! Store Inside ensures that a vehicle is clean and secure while in storage and ready to go when the owner wants to travel or play. Their theme ‘Relax--We’ve Got You Covered’ says it all.

They opened their first location July 1, 2005 as R ‘n R Vehicle Storage. Upon their recent expansion to a second facility, in 2007, they renamed the business ‘Store Inside’.

Before becoming business owners, Diana and Stuart both had executive marketing positions in high-tech. However, they wanted more job satisfaction. In 2001, Diana saw more and more for-lease signs going up and wondered if there was a way to constructively use some of this space. She heard from friends, family and associates with RV’s and boats how hard it was to find safe and clean storage for their vehicles, particularly since cities and HOA’s were restricting storage on their own property. After talking with people about the idea of indoor storage they realized their concept of storing vehicles inside could be a great service.

Challenges: The Robersons knew they wanted to start a business that eventually would support both of them. They needed a business plan, to do research and to get a financial "reality" check of potential property locations. Would the numbers work? Then as they were planning their second location a new competitor came into the market with promotional prices that lured away some prospective and current clients.

Actions Taken: Luckily, when they were starting out they found the SBA who referred them to the Contra Costa Small Business Development Center and the New Venture Training Program. In January 2003, Diana and Stuart were approved for the 12-week entrepreneurial training class. They began refining their business idea and building their confidence in business decision-making. They also learned about applying a disciplined approach to action planning while preparing themselves to become successful entrepreneurs. With the guidance of the SBDC and input from fellow classmates, the Roberson’s had a solid business plan to guide the start-up and on-going operations of their business.

Results: Since their business plan covered financial projections and a marketing plan they realized part of their success would depend on a strong financial model and marketing to build awareness of their services. They took their time in finding the best location to ensure profitability. They opened their business with 50,000 square feet and achieved 100 percent occupancy in the first year. Recently, a second warehouse with 120,000 square feet was secured and they now have six employees to support their business growth.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.