Keeping the personal property of your tenants safe and secure is priority one for every self storage facility owner or operator. Ensuring that only those authorized to access your site and individual storage units means that your facility will be more secure than your competitors. In turn, this means you will generate repeat business as your tenants will know their belongings are safe from prying eyes and sticky fingers.
Much has been said about different access control systems for self storage facilities. The benefits of gate access security and front door locks, adequate lighting, high-profile surveillance cameras, secure perimeter fencing and 24-hour managed facility are all clear. However, there is one crucial component of any facility’s access control system that is usually overlooked, quite often to the detriment of your tenants: individual unit security. More specifically, there is a lack of awareness concerning the role that individual door alarms play in securing your facility to protect your tenants’ property and your own reputation.
Individual door alarms have long been seen as an expensive option that only the most advanced self storage facilities possess. Often thought to be the exclusive purview of self storage sites that serve affluent neighborhoods, individual door alarms are, surprisingly, not necessarily as expensive as one might think. In fact, thanks to new technological advances in connectivity, installing and integrating individual door alarms into your existing access control system is easier than ever. Additionally, the added value that these alarm systems bring to your self storage site provides a number of opportunities to grow your business. In other words, you may think that you cannot afford to provide your tenants with individual door alarms, but the truth is that you cannot afford not to do so either.
How Individual Door Alarms Play Into a Fully-Figured Access Control System
Access control is top of mind for every self storage facility. Take steps to supercharge your access control strategy in ways that will both keep your site more secure while also not inconveniencing your tenants.
Most modern site security systems will have several access control points, beginning at any and all entrance gates and extending deeper into the facility. Many facilities that feature indoor storage units across multiple levels have keyed or electronic locks on their front doors or even on stairwells or elevator doors, all to ensure that only tenants can be where they are authorized to have access. Even more accessible facilities such as drive-up self storage sites will routinely feature deterrents such as visible surveillance cameras or well-lit facilities, seemingly obviating the need for yet another security step at the very door of an individual storage unit.
Yet all of these security systems can be circumvented. A determined criminal can easily rent a small, inexpensive unit in your facility, thus gaining access codes or keys for the gate and/or the front door of your facility. They can then roam your site with impunity as they are, to all appearances, authorized to be on the property, all the while identifying likely storage units to break into at an opportune moment. These criminals can then either change the lock on the unit to deny the rightful owner access, move valuable property from the unit to their own or simply abscond with it immediately. It is in this case that not having individual door alarms will lead to unmitigated disaster.
Types of Individual Door Alarms
The above illustration should clearly demonstrate the need to ensure you have at least some of your storage units fitted with individual door alarms. Now, it is time to discuss the types of options you as a site owner or operator have when it comes to seeking a door alarm solution. There are two main types of door alarms: hard-wired and wireless. Which type of system that is ideal for your facility and its needs will depend on a number of factors. These two systems are:
Wired Door Alarms
The reliable simplicity of a wired door alarm system makes it a preferred choice for large-scale self storage sites. If you already operate a facility that has battery or generator backups, possibly to provide uninterrupted service for climate-controlled storage units, it is important to tie your alarm system into this same backup power source.
Wireless Door Alarms
Wireless alarms make use of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology to communicate, which means there is no need to rip up existing infrastructure to install. Each unit does need an independent power source and while most systems are quite power efficient, you will need to change each alarm’s batteries once a year or so. These alarm systems are also perfect for installation in storage units that are already occupied or as an optional upgrade to renters who wish to pay for the extra security.
Monitoring and Connectivity
There is more to alarm systems than just loud sirens and flashing lights. In fact, that is perhaps the least of what an individual door alarm can provide for your facility and its tenants. When it comes to the most modern of alarm systems being used in the self storage industry, they are not just isolated systems. These modern alarms are connected to sophisticated monitoring software that can provide much-needed information to you, your tenant or even the authorities in the case of a theft.
Does a loud, flashing alarm have the potential to drive off a thief? Certainly. The light show can often act as a deterrent. However, this alerts no one to the break-in except the thief and anyone else who is close enough to notice the disturbance and by the time you are informed that one of your storage unit alarms is going off, whoever broke in could be long gone, along with your tenant’s property. Worse yet, you as a business owner may be held legally responsible for compensating your tenant for the theft. Additionally, reports of break-ins at your self storage facility are not exactly the best publicity.
Meanwhile, a silent alarm or even a traditional alarm that is connected to a monitoring service will provide crucial information quickly to those that need to know about the break-in. Response times are swifter, leading to more instances of stopping a thief in his or her tracks. Connected alarm systems are often also integrated into your surveillance camera system, offering time-stamped data points to help identify when and where in your facility the perpetrator might appear on camera.
More than Heightened Security: the Customer Convenience Factor
It is quite clear that individual door alarm systems offer some of the best security options for keeping your tenants’ belongings safe. The deterrence factor is high, as is the ability to respond quickly to a break-in before stolen goods get very far off the premises. Yet while the heightened security is certainly a strong selling point, there is another factor that comes into play: customer convenience.
Having a door alarm system increases your ability to make the experience of your tenant as he or she visits their self storage unit as positive as possible. This is because regardless of whether you choose a wired solution for your facility or a wireless one, most modern systems are now featuring smart connected technology that allows your renter to interact with your facility in new, interesting and more convenient ways.
The same connected tech that allows your tenant to use their mobile phone to receive gate or front door access with the tap of a touchscreen also comes into play here. Instead of having to remember yet another access number, a renter can simply use the EasyCode app that is integrated into your access control system to deactivate their door alarm as well. Your tenant can even provide access to a friend or family member from afar if they need something from their unit but cannot go themselves. Such high amounts of convenience keep renters satisfied with their experiences, which leads to them coming back every month.
The Indirect Benefits for Site Owners and Operators
The clearest advantages that these alarm systems have is that there will be fewer instances of theft at your facility which leads to happier tenants. As if these benefits were not enough, there are even more that individual door alarms have for self storage site owners and operators. These advantages may be indirect, but they all add up to continued and consistent success for your facility.
Connected door alarm systems that are fully integrated into PTI’s smart access control system will provide you with detailed records of the comings and goings of your tenants. Tracking your tenants from when they step foot on your property to when they disarm and re-arm their door alarms to when they finally leave your property provides crucial, perhaps even invaluable, information.
Being able to track an individual tenant has its own advantages, especially if they seem to be exhibiting strange or suspicious behavior. But the true benefit comes when you export the totality of your visitor data and use predictive analytics to look for interesting and helpful trends. Once you know how long the average tenant remains on site, the amount of time their storage unit remains unlocked and any other pieces of actionable data can, for example, help show you when you may need additional staff on hand to better meet demand.
Turn to the Trusted Experts
Installation, integration and maintenance of a fully-fledged individual door alarm system for your self service facility is no mean feat. It requires specific knowledge and experience in order to ensure that your system is installed properly, regardless of whether you have a hard-wired system or if you opted for a wireless one. It is highly unlikely that you or someone on your staff will have the requisite expertise to manage such a task yourself.
You will need the help of a skilled and qualified professional self storage security company, one that has the know-how when it comes to integrating door alarms with existing access control systems. As the most trusted name in self storage security, PTI Security is the one to turn to for your facality’s individual door alarm needs. Contact PTI today for more information.
About the Author
Franklin Young spent more than 15 years in the self storage industry and began his career at Digitech where he served as the national sales manager. Franklin subsequently joined the PTI team, where he served as the executive vice president and COO. Subsequent to PTI, Franklin was recruited to be the director of sales and marketing for DBCi, a manufacturer of steel curtain roll-up doors and components for self storage facilities. Most recently Franklin served as the senior sales operations manager at BlueLinx Corporation. He is thrilled to return to PTI as the CEO and looks forward to leading the company in many exciting and groundbreaking endeavors over the coming months and years.