Virtual and Remote Management Techniques

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Since the investment in owning and operating a kiosk is on a different scale than posting a cell-phone number on a sign or even creating a basic contract and payment website, it does require some math. Does the potential revenue at your property support the costs of using a kiosk? Can it complete enough transactions to become a cost-saver over using onsite staff or even a remote office or call center force?

It’s possible that the ease of use and the wide ranging services kiosks can offer customers will bring a good rate of return even at a small facility. If you removed the customer-contact labor factor and the hassle factor from managing customers, how thin could you shave your margins while still making the kinds of returns that satisfy your financial goals?

You might feel a little nervous leaving your self-storage property completely un-staffed, or you might worry about leaving an expensive piece of equipment like your kiosk with no one supervising it. But you don’t have to leave your assets unprotected. Using remote webcams is a simple and inexpensive way to keep an eye on your property.

Plus, digital recording is getting easier to use all the time. You can save hours of viewing for later investigations. You can log into your surveillance cameras from anywhere in the world and watch the activities at your facility.

Stack and Pick

There is a new twist being marketed for remote-site management: the automated stacker and picker for storage units. It uses the same kind of technology a vending machine might use to retrieve a storage unit from a stack and present it at a loading area. This can all be done in a remote automated location. What new challenges or opportunities will a system like this stimulate?

People are very amenable to self-service. We see them doing many things, such as banking at ATMs, making payments online, purchasing items online. Smart phones are selling like crazy and even our cars are blue-tooth enabled. What does all this mean for remote facility management? It means you will see new development and improvements on the old "help-yourself" system where you pick your own unit and drop your payment in the box … just like in the old days, but better. 

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an offsite sales force that helps storage owners rent to more people through its call center, secret-shopping service, sales-training and Internet lead-generation services. Mr. Jordheim is also a member of the National Speakers Association. You can read what he’s up to at www.selfstorageblog.com. For more information, e-mail tron@phone-smart.net.

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