In today’s competitive environment, it is key to differentiate your facility from the one down the street. One of the best ways to do this is by making the right investments in technology. Self storage facility owners that embrace technology-based equipment and information systems will have operations that run more efficiently: saving time, money, and allowing for a wider range of customer relationship and management options.
Technology-based equipment and information systems save time for employees, increase opportunities for customer-led lease-up, and provide things like quality security systems so that customers can trust that their possessions are well protected.
To provide for top quality customer service and an efficient self storage operation, there are key technologies that self storage owners should consider incorporating into their business.
As of May 2022, 58.26% of all web traffic came through mobile phones.1 And most self storage customers want to interact with operators using technology, specifically smartphones, and apps or responsive mobile websites. They expect to be able to accomplish most, if not all, of the rental and ongoing interaction via their smartphones.
There are a variety of mobile applications available for the self storage industry. Both customers and owners can reap the numerous advantages of these apps. At the forefront are apps designed to secure rentals and give customers easy access to the facility. The driving force behind these advances is, of course, consumer demand.2
Many multi-site operators are keeping pace with this demand by offering a mobile app that operates similarly to other mainstream platforms, providing tenants with options to rent a unit, pay their bill, and even gain access to the main entrance gate or buildings from the convenience of a smartphone. Tenants can also view their access history, and even be notified of alarms and access activity.
Operators who employ mobile apps will also enjoy improved marketing. The average person checks their phones on average once every 12 minutes, so the odds of a consumer seeing your logo on a regular basis is pretty high.
Other advantages of mobile applications include3:
With customers wanting to monitor their units from their phones, it is key that self storage facility owners ensure that everything is in working order. Additionally, customer data should always be up to date, regardless of when they need access.
There are also several amenities and control software available for remote monitoring. In addition, self storage access control systems enable businesses to detect and correct technical errors in real-time. As a result, contacting contractors and dispatching them to the troubleshoot the site takes less time. When managers have less work to do, it is easier to ensure that all systems are functioning properly.
The most important feature of a self storage property is security.4 Biometrics technology, which is used by the Department of Homeland Security, provides secure access that is almost impossible to breach. It uses facial-recognition technology that measures voice patterns, retinas, and fingerprints. A self storage facility could easily incorporate this technology by implementing access by fingerprint scanner. The newest fingerprint readers provide a computer-controlled security mechanism for units and customers that can store thousands of profile pages. This operating system can be used in an existing facility.
Another security feature self storage owners can easily incorporate are Bluetooth electronic lock and access control systems. These allow customer access to a self-storage facility, as well as a storage unit, from a smartphone or any mobile device.
Bluetooth proximity or RFID readers can be properly installed on any existing self-storage unit and used even when cellular networks are unavailable. These locks detect the device and unit-specific Bluetooth signals and only lock and unlock when the device’s owner/user is nearby.
Self-serve kiosks are literally putting the “self” in self-storage. Tenants can use them at any time, reducing the staff workload and saving your business time and money. The software that kiosks use is integrated with property management systems to store and report all customer actions in databases. This enables self storage owners and managers to efficiently keep track of all tenant interactions. Customers love the convenience of being able to take care of routine issues quickly and easily. These are also great for older customers that may not want to use a mobile application but are used to ATMs and other kiosks.
A prospective customer’s research-to-lease process can take anywhere from a month to less than a day. Regardless of how long this process takes, most of their process is likely to be online. Providing the ability to rent a storage unit online is a convenient, time-saving alternative that most prospective customers not only appreciate but expect.
It is key to provide the entire customer experience online, including leasing, contracts, application, and bill pay. Real-time pricing and availability updates provided by your operating system’s inventory data feed are one tool that also helps with this.
The online rental process enables customers to select their unit, sign the lease, and rent a self storage unit online without calling or visiting your office. All the paperwork can be completed in advance from the convenience of a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Using an online rental platform to capitalize on your customer’s needs will pay off in an increase to your bottom line.
Self storage management software has been around for years; but now, cloud-based software is providing self storage owners and managers with updated data in every area of their business. Customer and financial databases can be accessed safely and reliably, merging data, and saving time and money. Storage units can be managed from anywhere by integrating cloud services.
Cloud-based software also makes it easier for consumers to access data whenever they want. This is one technology that provides a low-cost method because it eliminates the need for someone to troubleshoot and restore a database crash. Cloud services have a built-in cloud repair system that is so effective that database crashes are extremely rare.
Technology will continue to play a major role in business and in the self-storage industry. From mobile applications to self-serve kiosks to biometrics, prospective customers are going to demand the convenience that technology brings to their self storage experience. If you want to provide exceptional customer service, stay ahead of the competition, and keep your company ahead of the curve, adding key technology to your business is essential.
Businesses that use information systems to track what is being stored and the size of the units being rented also have the tools necessary to improve their marketing and adjust pricing if necessary.
Self storage businesses can make their customers’ lives easier by providing a variety of communication channels, valuable information that is easy to access, and payment options. It is a reflection of your company and shows you are meeting the needs of customers looking for self storage options.
1 Oberlo. (n.d.). Retrieved from oberlo.com: https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/mobile-internet-traffic
2 Campbell, A. (2018, May 15). Inside Self-Storage. Retrieved from insideselfstorage.com: https://www.insideselfstorage.com/technology/thriving-high-tech-world-how-technology-changing-self-storage-industry
3 Padore, D. (2022, January 10). Project Cubicle. Retrieved from projectcubicle.com: https://www.projectcubicle.com/7-most-popular-self-storage-technology-trends/
4 Otong, M. (2022, March 8). Pinnacle Storage Properties. Retrieved from pinnaclestorageproperties.com: https://www.pinnaclestorageproperties.com/technology-trends-in-the-self-storage-industry/