Why Does a Storage Facility Need Technology?

Published on 1/8/2022

How Can Technology Benefit Self-Storage?

There are many technologies that find their way into self-storage. From the keypad gate entry to the security cameras... from ACH payments to automatic escalation of non-paying customers. Technology can have a place almost everywhere in your facility. At Wildcat Storage Center in Louisburg, KS we've investigated technologies for detecting motion inside a unit and automatically texting the renter... to locks that you operate with your phone and are integrated into the management software. There are so many ways that technology can benefit a storage facility, it's sometimes difficult to know where to best spend your dollars. We know that we're on the forefront of technology for Louisburg Storage, but we also know that we're behind the curve for many facilities in the Bigger Cities. Guess what... that's on purpose.

Why Are We Not Using All of the Available Tech?

When we evaluate technology we're focused on 3 factors
  1. The need or value of such technology
  2. The likely acceptance of the technology by our renters
  3. The cost of the technology
We only deploy technology at Wildcat if the evaluation of these three factors suggests that it is a worthwhile investment. For those of you who don't know, someone can find a unit on our website they want to rent, rent it and pay for it, and schedule monthly payments going forward, and even request their move out at the end of their rental with us. Basically the entire relationship can be managed from the website. Believe it or not, less than 50% of our renters have ever actually been to our website. this is why #2 is so important to us. If we were to deploy NFC locks on our storage doors, some tenants would LOVE it... and it would make it a lot easier on management when someone is behind on rent... but in our community, way more people would be upset by having to try and fiddle with their phone to open their unit than love it... so no way we're going to adopt that technology... at least not yet. There will come a time, and it isn't so far away, where technology hold-outs will be strong-armed into adopting technology whether they like it or not. It's already started, to some extent, and COVID-19 only accelerated the process.

What Technologies We Use - Any Why

CCTV - This isn't exactly new, but we do digitally record the premises to help cut down on any inappropriate behavior on the property. We can even view these cameras from our cell phone when away from the facility.
Auto-Pay - One of the greatest features for both management and renters alike, is the ability to automatically pay your rent each month. We can do this on CC or via ACH, but for tenants who chose ACH, we offer a $25 credit toward their new rental... it's that valuable to us. Imagine all the time we saving making phone calls and sending texts/letters to someone who simply went on vacation and forgot to pay their storage bill... a think of the past with auto-pay.
Automated Text/Email - Our system automatically texts and emails renters when a bill is due, a payment is made (or fails), a renter requests a move out, or a new renter is setup in the system. The system even notifies people automatically when their behind on their rent.
Access Control - Each renter is given a custom PIN for access, that is automatically assigned by the software. Once that renter moves out, their PIN no longer works, ensuring only those who need access have access.
Website - The best part is probably the website. When a unit comes available, the website automatically advertises it as such. An individual can find it and walk themselves through the entire rental process right from the website - evening signing the storage agreement! The only human interaction needed from Management's side is a quick click to 'approve' the rental/move-in, and a new renter is all set.

What Is The Future of Technology in Self-Storage

One doesn't typically see storage facilities featured in Sci-Fi movies... which interestingly can be amazingly on point and providing some direction of the future of technology. There are a lot of great technologies now available (as we mentioned, fancy NFC locks that work with your cell phone, motion detectors that text tenants when someone's entered the unit...) but know what is still to come is a bit more difficult. It's certainly possible that we'll see more storage facility roofs contribute to the utility scale solar movement... as well as the potential for onsite storage of power (ironic I know). Some are talking about rental kiosks at facilities and biometrics for use in locks... but all that really is is a bridge for slow adopters of technology to be able to participate until everyone accepts that they live and die by their cell phone. As land gets more and more expensive in urban centers, a likely change may be the reduction in walkways and driveways. Think of your local laundromat. To maximize their clothes storage, they store clothes even where you can't easily reach them. There may come a time when robotics (or at least fancy conveyor systems) bring the unit to you when you call up your unit... otherwise the units are packed like containers on a container ship headed for Europe. That may be a few decades away in the Midwest but with outrageous property prices on the coasts... not too far into the future for them.