5 Technology Initiatives Self-Storage Operators Should Implement Today

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4. Revenue Management

If your facility is 100 percent occupied and you’re not raising rates, you're losing money. Technology is not only great for marketing or using social media, it’s phenomenally adept at helping operators make more revenue and track expenses. Consider using self-storage management software that allows you to program automatic rent increases.

Using this automated feature allows rent increases to be sent out automatically, without having to decide how much the increase should be for each customer or which customers get the increase. Do it across the board on at least an annual basis, and then work with individual customers if there’s an issue. Expenses such as utilities, property taxes and property insurance increase on an annual basis, so must your revenue.

5. Technological Hardware

If you walk into your local Best Buy or office-supply store, you can be overwhelmed with the technological options available. As much fun as it may be to purchase the newest tablet or leading smartphone, you have to decide what you really need. Every self-storage facility should have a computer (laptop or desktop), a high-speed Internet connection, and a printer/scanner. These are just day-to-day tools you need in a modern office. I would also consider a digital camera or small video-recording device to document situations that can arise at a self-storage facility. Once you have these items, what else do you need?

If you’re an owner, investor or operator of multiple stores, you’ll most likely need at least a laptop, Internet-connection device, a recently released smartphone, and some cloud-based software/applications. These items will help you conduct business remotely.

Does the onsite manager need a smartphone or tablet? Probably not, unless he has other duties that require such a device. Does it look neat for a manager to show a tenant to a unit using a tablet? Well, yes, I would be impressed. Is it cost-effective? Probably not. A decent tablet will be north of $350 or more if you include an annual data plan from a mobile-phone company. A clipboard costs $1. As much as technology can help us, it has to make sense and be cost-effective, too.

We live in interesting times. There are so many technological ideas being developed, it’s hard to keep up. I follow 31 technology blogs just to stay informed on a daily basis. The best way to learn technology is to test it, play with it and, most of all, don’t be afraid of it. Some day computers will be a thing of the past and something else will take over. For now, you need to review your self-storage technology at least annually. As former IBM executive Andrew Heller once said, “Technology is like fish. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less desirable it becomes.”

Matthew Van Horn is vice president of Cutting Edge Self-Storage Management, a full-service management company specializing in management, feasibility studies, consulting and joint ventures within the self-storage industry. Van Horn is well-known for finding hidden profit centers in self-storage operations. For a complimentary copy of “Hidden Profit Discovery Session,” send an e-mail to mvanhorn@cuttingedgestorage.com . For more information, call 866.970.EDGE or visit www.cuttingedgeselfstorage.com . Follow the company on Twitter at Cuttingedgemgt, and on Facebook at Cutting Edge Self-Storage Management.

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