As the economy continues to take
“In this tough economic climate, automation has enabled me to undercut the market and still be open when my competitors are not,” says Robert Walker, owner of Self Storage of America, an 1,100-unit facility in downtown
Five years ago, running a self-storage facility without an onsite manager was something attempted by owners of only very small facilities. The idea of running a 25,000- to 40,000-square-foot facility without a manager was unheard of; but today, unmanned sites have become more commonplace. As it turns out, all facilities end up being unmanned to some degree.
Hours of Operation
It’s no secret that consumers have become use to and even expect to do business on their schedule. Gone are the days when a business can keep banker’s hours. In this respect, automated storage facilities are better equipped to serve today’s consumers. Traditional facilities with onsite or resident managers usually hold office hours for 8 to 10 hours and are closed for business the rest of the day, where unmanned facilities are open up to 24 hours.
When it comes to renting more units, there’s not much argument that when a potential renter is looking for a storage space after hours, he will bypass facilities with the light out in the office and go to the one down the street where business is still happening. But there’s a catch: To be open for business when the office is closed takes an investment in infrastructure including electronically controlled access, security cameras, ample lighting, a self-service kiosk to rent units and process payments and, yes, people.
While technology has improved to a point where customers can serve themselves, there are still times when only a live person will do. Someone still needs to answer calls, clean out units, perform lock checks, hold auctions and be available to deal with customer issues. This part of the puzzle is being solved with the help of a call center and a part-time employee to stop by the facility on a regular basis.
Designing and Building Unmanned Facilities
Jim Adams, president of Secure Holdings Inc. in Indiana, has made developing and operating fully automated facilities a part of his company’s long-term strategy. “Having built unmanned facilities from the ground up as well as more traditional storage facilities, I know firsthand each model can be done successfully,”