Simple Steps to Upgrading an Aging Self-Storage Security System
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
Posted on: 06/28/2013


By Steve Weinstein

In today’s highly competitive market, it’s important to ensure your business is keeping up to date with the latest technology. Security is one of the most important features at any self-storage facility, and an aging system can speak volumes to a tenant.

Your investment in security makes tenants feel at ease. It gives them the sense that their belongings will be safe and protected. Digital video-surveillance cameras, electronic gate-access control, individual unit alarms, and a real-time site-graphics monitor in the office shows customers you’re paying attention and in control. It provides them with the warm and fuzzy feeling of comfort, which is key to the storage experience. If tenants don’t feel safe, they’ll move.

There are many factors to consider when upgrading an aging security system. From evaluating your facility’s needs to sticking to a budget, here’s some insight to the process of creating a safer, more secure facility.

A secure front gate controlled by an access keypad shows tenants your facility is safe.

Evaluate Your Needs, Review Your Market

The first step in any planned upgrade is to evaluate your existing system. Identify what it does well and where it falls short. Identifying shortcomings will allow you to determine if an upgrade is necessary and help point you toward the features and functionality the new system should include.

The next step is to review your market. Take a drive around to other facilities in the area and see what they offer. Are you already the only gated facility in a market of open lots, or is it the other way around? Would adding individual unit alarms give you a selling point that no one in your area offers?

Replacing outdated surveillance cameras with modern, more advanced ones can make a world of difference.Talk to your tenants. Ask them for feedback on what would provide a better experience. Are there specific security measures and features they would feel more comfortable seeing?

Create a Budget

Once you have an idea of the features your upgraded system needs to include, it’s time to create a budget. Everyone always wants the Ferrari, but is that a realistic solution for your business? How much of an investment are you willing to make at this time? What can the business support? Are you in a crunch where if you don’t update now you’ll lose tenants, or do you have the financial space to entertain a larger investment for the long-term potential of higher return? Knowing the answers to these questions is very important in setting your budget and, therefore, your expectations.

Determine how your desired features fit with your budget. Go shopping. Attend a few industry tradeshows and see the options available. Spend some time online looking at storage security websites, and go to storage forums like Self-Storage Talk and read the good (and bad) of what others are using.

Compare the various vendors, their pricing, features, reputation and history in the industry. Which ones are going to give you the best bang for your buck and the least headache in the future? Do you plan to piece-meal your security solution from multiple vendors, or would you rather work with a one-stop-shop that can handle everything?

Talk to the Experts

Call and have a conversation with a security expert. Look for a company that has been specifically in the self-storage industry for a while and understands your needs. Ask about the warranty that comes with the products you’re considering.

For example, if you’re buying a new access-control system, does it cover lightning? How long is the warranty? Remember this is likely a long-term relationship, so make sure you’re comfortable with your security consultant and he takes the time to answer all your questions.

Security equipment and features for the storage industry are constantly evolving, so choose a company that shows a history of innovation. The vendor should be able to grow with you in the future. Does it offer easy-to-add modular options? Just because you aren’t adding door alarms today doesn’t mean your market won’t demand them next year. Be sure the company you choose allows this level of modularity and upgradeability.

A site-graphics display such as this one tells customers management is aware of everything happening on the property.

Taking the time to find the right vendor with the right suite of security products for your facility can make all the difference in the world to your tenants and your facility’s revenue stream. A bargain-basement system isn’t going to perform well in the long run and can frequently wind up costing you more than a higher-grade system. But spending top dollar for the most expensive system is simply foolhardy if there are other comparable systems with the same features available.

In the end, do your research and explore your options before committing yourself to an upgrade plan of action. You’d hate to find yourself facing the same needs again in just a short amount of time.

Steve Weinstein has been a security consultant for the self-storage industry since 2004. He’s a senior account representative at QuikStor Security & Software, which provides security and software products to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.321.1987; visit .