Across the country, Owners and Operators in self-storage are talking themselves in circles around the ongoing industry issues. Labor shortages, payroll increases, call volume, foot traffic, mobile banking transitions, access control, and more are all at the forefront of every weekly and monthly operational meeting as individual companies, small and large, are working toward viable solutions.
However, there is an argument that our asset class is being faced with an entirely new problem alongside the ongoing issues we’ve had with labor, payroll, occupancy, and the rest of the never-ending list. This new problem is choice paralysis;
The more options people have to choose from, the harder the decision becomes and the more likely it is that we can’t make up our minds. This also translates to being more likely to be unhappy with the choice that is ultimately made.
It’s a lose-lose situation that leads to decision-makers feeling overwhelmed with the number of available choices and with the increase in interest for this specific asset class due to its real-estate nature, we can only expect more vendors to continue to filter into the space.
So, as Owners and Operators, how do we differentiate between what is useful in the vendor marketplace and ultimately set our staff, tenants, and business up for success?
We start by taking a step back and looking at what is available and there are a lot of available solutions that specifically speak to industry pains. Some of the most prominent in the industry, as well as some of the newer and emerging automation available, include:
Two-Way Video Software: This tool allows managers and call center specialists to greet tenants in real time from remote locations, thus cutting down on payroll and labor.
Interactive Kiosks: The functionality of an interactive kiosk is built to allow tenants to move-in, make a payment, and more. Some of the new kiosk options on the market also include auto-attendants and two-way video functionality.
Virtual Auto-Attendants: A newer automation style focused on allowing customers to have interactive and engaging experiences with AI.
Smart Cameras: This security feature is sweeping the industry with real-time alerts, color tracking, movement tracking, license and facial recognition, unusual activity, and more.
AI Chat Boxes: Built for websites to provide quick and efficient support.
Responsive Websites: Serving as a foundation for all stores in today’s online presence, these websites allow for move-ins, communication, and payments. Additionally, many of these websites are available in Mobile and Desktop view.
Smart Locks: Built with the tenant and the management in mind, smart locks allow for tenants to control their access to their space from their phone while simultaneously allowing management to block access without a trip to the facility.
Mobile Apps: Speaking directly to property management software, customer-facing mobile applications are built for the best user experience allowing the tenant to access account information, review billing, make payments, open doors, and more.
How do we determine what works?
First, look internally at your operation and ask yourself, your team, and your managers working in the daily operation: Where is your pain? Is it access control? Security? Payments? Loitering? Labor shortages?
Identify the top three pain points and then follow that path. There is a solution available at the end of that road that will address this specific issue and clean up the operation.
Next, envision how you want the operation to run. What does a perfect day in self-storage look like for you? Realize how this fantasy can turn into reality with the right tools and move to the next step.
Finally, we have to review what automation is already implemented. If it’s not working, if it’s outdated, if it’s causing more problems than solutions, it’s ok to get rid of it. There is a reason we all upgrade our phones every 3-5 years. Old hardware starts to wear down and slow down as 5G internet takes over and fiber optics are put into place. We are expected to keep up with the trends in technology by putting hardware solutions in place that can keep pace.