Inside Self-Storage

MAR 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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are beginning to order groceries online to pick up curbside or deliver to their home. When my Amazon Prime subscription automatically renews each year, I don't think twice. Food-delivery fees and tips don't phase me either; in fact, they feel like a small price to pay for the time and energy saved. If this is the way most consumers think and behave—and companies like Airbnb, Amazon and Uber prove time and again that it is—then why should self-storage operate any differently? Leveraging Tech Tools What Domino's did to outpace its competition seems so intuitive now, but it was risky at the time. The company spent a lot of time and resources to implement technology that allows customers to Tweet an emoji and order a pizza, or order pizza from a mobile app in five clicks. Domino's moved toward its customers rather than making customers come to them. Self-storage operators have a similar opportunity to eliminate inconvenience in the rental and payment processes by leveraging mobile technology. For years, even if a tenant rented or reserved a unit online, he still needed to see a manager for his gate code or to have the lock removed from his unit. With new access-control solutions, rental to move-in can be accomplished from a mobile phone. Now, storage operators can meet their customers where they are and provide a heightened level of unit security and facility monitoring with Bluetooth smart-locking technology. A customer simply rents online, receives a text confirmation and uses his mobile phone to do the rest, from gate and door entry, to unit entry, to billpay. When tenants can enter gates and open doors with their mobile device, you're not only eliminating the hassle of remembering key codes, you cut down on your call-center volume. According to one facility operator, as many as 60 percent of his calls were related to the gate—from forgotten access codes to past-due payments to general keypad malfunctions. When customers can view their account and pay their balance from their mobile device, you're providing a more convenient solution for them while minimizing the labor-intensive process of restoring facility access. Moreover, with modern smart-entry systems, tenants can share digital keys with movers, family, coworkers and friends, providing a hassle-free experience for tenants and improving data for self-storage owners. With digital keys, the technology ties the guest user's mobile device directly to the tenant, providing a better audit trail in the event of arson or vandalism. As in the pizza world, mobile technology is ultimately changing the self-storage landscape. If customers are using mobile apps to pay for everything from pizza to car rentals, isn't it time to meet them where they are and offer a similar experience? Just as Domino's realized the telephone might become a deterrent to ordering food, we could be discouraging customers with necessary office visits, gate codes and padlocks. Will DeBord is the product manager for the SecurGuard Smart Entry System division at Janus International Group Inc., a global provider of self-storage doors, hallways and smart security solutions. For more information, e-mail; visit

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