Have you thought about converting your self storage facility to fully-automated, aka "unmanned"? If so, there are a lot of factors to take into account—many more than what is covered here. However, these three new(ish) innovations can help tremendously as you modernize your self storage facility.
KIOSK Information Systems standard lineup
I know, self storage kiosks have been around for a while. However, kiosk user interfaces have made huge strides in recent years in the self storage space. If you've been to a McDonald's or a rental car agency (or pretty much anywhere else) recently, you've seen modern kiosks at work—user-friendly with big, beautiful screens.
When choosing a kiosk, make sure you're accounting for all capabilities needed before making a purchase. If you're truly going 100% unmanned, you may need a kiosk with a cash receptacle, ID scanner, and lock dispenser. If you're using a kiosk as a support to on-site staff, then you probably don't need as many features and can go with a simpler model.
These kiosks sync up with your management software and have the capability to handle full move-ins, move-outs, payments and more. They can be customized to offer any add-on products like insurance or packing supplies as well.
Janus Noke overlock system
2. Automated overlocks
One of the most critical, and time-consuming management tasks is overlocking delinquent units. We don't need to get into why that's important, but the fact remains that it's a management-intensive task.
Automated overlocks are bluetooth enabled locks that get installed on each individual unit. Tenants get access to their unit via smartphone app that communicates to the overlock. As soon as a tenant is late on payment, the management software communicates to the overlock system and overlocks the unit. Once payment is made, the overlock is disabled and tenants are able to access their unit again.
The tech is still expensive at $200-$300 per door, however, if it allows you to reduce payroll at the site, that investment can be well worth it.
If you don't have the budget for an expensive upgrade, but still want help simplifying the overlock process, take a look at the Davinci Lock.
Insomniac's SmartEye camera system
3. Monitored cameras
Let's say you have a break-in at your facility. Someone breaks in, causes a bunch of damage, breaks into a couple units, and gets out. But wait... their face and car license plate were clearly caught on your security cameras! And you've got the footage saved on DVR! Police make an arrest, tenant insurance makes the tenants' whole, and your building insurance makes you whole. All is good, right?
Well, those tenants who got their unit broken into are not going to be happy. Other tenants in the facility who hear about the break in are going to be scared about keeping their things at the facility. Your facilities' reputation will be damaged, resulting in negative Google reviews, and halting any would-be word of mouth recommendations. Your competition becomes more attractive in the eyes of potential tenants, and your rates and occupancy suffer as a result. Even though you did everything right!
Wouldn't it be much better if you could prevent the crime from happening in the first place?
Enter monitored security cameras.
With a monitored security camera system, your cameras will be monitored by a live human at hours of your choosing. Speakers are attached to your cameras, allowing the security team to speak directly to those in the facility at any time.
Now, enter our original criminal. Rather than have free reign on the facility, a voice comes over the speaker immediately upon them entering, warning them to leave before the police are called. They wise up and take off, realizing that your facility will not be as easy a score as they originally thought.
You've just been saved the headaches of unhappy tenants, insurance, restoration, and losing rentals due to a damaged reputation.
Automated self storage facilities come with their own sets of challenges, but with the 3 new(ish) technologies listed above, hopefully those challenges become easier to overcome.
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Derek Walker has developed more than 25 self storage projects throughout the United States and has consulted on many more since 2010. He has also worked as an economic development consultant where he conducted several feasibility studies across multiple property types, including RV/boat storage, hotel, resort, office, industrial, multifamily, and specialty mixed-use. He has a BA degree in Economics from the University of Utah and an MS in Real Estate Development from New York University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 839-5844.