Both technology and self storage are thriving industries, so it is no surprise that technology is changing how we store and access our valuables. Technology not only makes accessing storage easier, but also increases security and peace of mind. From digital marketing to smart locks, the technological advances made in the past decade have enabled self storage owners and operators to get in front of larger audiences and make their facilities more accessible. Below are some examples of how technology has evolved in the industry.
Today, having a location and posting signs isn't nearly enough to be noticed. The company winning business won't necessarily be the building with the flashiest signs and biggest newspaper spreads; it will be the facility with the highly optimized website. Tight search engine optimization allows tech-savvy companies to lead online advertising. Also, the ability to secure space online makes the decision to seal the deal an easy one, reducing a formerly stressful task to a few minutes with a search engine.
Additionally, some facilities have advanced software that allows customers to manage their self storage facilities directly from mobile apps. Apps offer real-time control over a storage unit's security and access. Security features are often the deciding factor for a customer. Some mobile apps offer tenants access to video surveillance feeds and the ability to lock and unlock doors. Granting easier access and peace of mind is key to retaining customers.
Kiosks are becoming increasingly popular as well. Customers can visit a kiosk at any hour of the day. Using a touchscreen, they can choose a unit, sign the lease, purchase insurance and a lock and go about their business. Monthly payments can also be accepted with a kiosk eliminating the need to accept and process checks. With a kiosk, a self storage facility can essentially operate continuously, never being closed to potential customers. The best kiosks come equipped with a video surveillance to monitor activity at all times.
There are always customers with questions that a machine or website can't answer. For these cases, kiosks include real-time voice and video connections with support call centers. Even with the added cost of surveillance and a call center, the expense of a kiosk is less than that of an actual employee, and constant availability makes them the perfect addition to any self storage facility.
Good locks are essential to secure self storage units. Many facilities operate with empty unlocked units. This can lead to empty units being accessed without authorization or customer locks being damaged or broken. Smart locks address many of these concerns. Replacing key-based locks with electronic keypads has many advantages. Empty units are secured without managing dozens of spare keys and locks, and access can be monitored. Electronic locks are less susceptible to damage or tampering and deter the average bolt-cutting criminal. The integration of kiosks and management software make daily physical patrols a thing of the past.
Technology trends make facility leasing, management and security much more efficient, and many owners or managers not capitalizing on these advances will soon find themselves left behind. As technology continues to evolve, self storage owners and operators should make the necessary changes to be successful.