Like most other industries, self-storage is being impacted by the conflagration of technology. For many facility operators, business processes have changed as a result. No doubt your day-to-day work practices have been at least partly altered by things like mobile devices, software, kiosks, RFID and the Internet. How are you keeping informed of new developments, and how readily are you and your customer base embracing the revolution?
I'm married to a "techie," so like it or not, I'm regularly exposed to technology news. Even with this infiltration of information, however, it's not always easy or me to make sense of it. Some tools are intuitive and user-friendly (think iPad) while others seem to make life more complicated.
As a self-storage operator, you may be feeling similarly daunted when it comes to keeping up the technology pace. So I'd like to share with you a few development highlights from recent weeks, as well as some resources that will help keep you in the know.
Centreforce Technology of Australia, which provides self-storage management software, has developed an iOS mobile application that runs on Apple platforms. The app will allow users to access common functions of AccessEzy, a self-storage access-control and security product, including opening and closing gates, viewing the event log, running reports and checking alarms.
StorageClicks.com, which provides online-marketing and website-design services, launched its new Mobile Site Platform, which helps self-storage operators create mobile websites. The platform is compatible with Apple iOS, Google Android and Blackberry Mobile OS, plus many other mobile devices.
Storage Network Advantage LLC and SMD Software Inc. have partnered to develop the SNA Collections Manager, a tool to help self-storage operators reduce bad debt and increase cash flow. The tool combines hardware and software technology to send phone and SMS text messages to past-due tenants. It can integrate with various Web-based management programs.
- SmartStop Self Storage, the retail brand for Strategic Storage Trust Inc., has launched a new smartphone application called the SmartTracker Inventory List App. The app will help customers organize and track the contents of their storage units and use the company's Web-based account-management tools.
These are just a few examples of the tools that have been rolled out to the self-storage industry in recent months. If you'd like to read more, check out the news releases and articles on the "Technology" topics page of InsideSelfStorage.com. In particular, I encourage you to read the recent article by Matthew Van Horn, "How Technology Is Changing Customer Service in Self-Storage: Product Quality, Communication and Information." A regular writer for ISS, Matt talks about the evolution of our industry resulting from tech use.
We also interviewed Matt as part of our new "Sounds of Storage" podcast series, which draws insight from industry experts on high-demand topics. In recent weeks, we've spoken to several presenters of the upcoming Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas, including Matt and his colleague Jim Ross, both vice presidents of operations for Cutting Edge Self Storage Management. They spoke to Self-Storage Talk Community Manager John Carlisle about cloud computing, data security, facility websites and more. You can listen to the podcast here.
Van Horn and Ross will also be speaking about technology at the ISS Expo, during a seminar titled "10 Things You Should Be Doing Now in Regard to Self-Storage Technology and Software." They'll talk about how technology can help you streamline your self-storage operation and increase efficiency and profit. Topics to be covered include hardware, software, websites, mobile devices and more.
So ... If you have questions about industry technology, the latest advances, how to use them, and what they can do for you, investigate one of the resources outlined above. If you represent a company that provides a tech tool not mentioned here, feel free to share about your offering in the blog comments (no ad copy, please). If you're a facility operator, I'd love to know which technology you're using as part of your business. What's your view on tech tools? What's really working for you, helping you save time and money?