Leveraging Technology to Be a Better Self-Storage Manager

By Tron Jordheim Comments
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I’m harping on learning and using software tools because there are a lot of great hardware devices that could help you. I’m also harping on using your current vendors for adding technology, because as you adopt more cool and new hardware, you want to make sure you’re fully integrating with your current tools. The one big “caution” about using technology is this: The more you use, the more your technologies will clash with one another. So try to use all of what you have to its fullest capacity, then integrate new tools as best you can.

Look for New Tools

Now let’s take a look at a five cool tools. Some have been around a few years, while others are new. All can take your technology aptitude to a new level.

  • Your smartphone: Some of your current vendors have apps you can use to make yourself more mobile and efficient. Find out what they have to offer, then browse your app store for other things that might help you. Just a flashlight app could help when cleaning units.
     
  • Tablets: If your current PC-based system allows it, you can use a remote log-in service like LogMeIn to do your business as you travel the property. You can do a move-in on the golf cart while showing a unit, and you can bring your apps with you. You can take photos of the unit that’s about to go to auction and send or file it on the go. You can load a customer survey and hand it to customers to complete.
     
  • Payment terminals: There are stripped-down PCs that can be set up at your counter to take payments. What a great way to add a customer convenience that saves you time on the busy days of the month.
     
  • Kiosks: In many markets, self-service move-ins and account management are becoming readily accepted by consumers. Maybe it’s time to consider one for your store. A kiosk effectively makes your office open 24/7.
     
  • Automated door locks: If you ever wished there was a way to eliminate the hassle of removing the overlock on doors to accommodate a late-paying customer, think how easy it would be if your management software would know when to slide the automated lock open on a unit as a part of the payment transaction. No more telling people to wait until tomorrow when you have a chance to remove the overlock personally.

Then there are a host of great technologies that are available as a service through websites and package vendors for things like call tracking and monitoring, lead management, reputation management, website analytics, business intelligence, competition analysis, and consumer-market research. It’s a whole new wonderful world in which we live. It takes a little adjusting and a lot of learning, but the technology allows us to make storage a passive business for its owners and an enjoyable customer-service mission for its workforce.

Go and ask your superiors now for four or five hours a week to learn about new technologies. Tell them you’ll report back with information about all the cool features you can add to your capabilities. You’ll run a better business, and your superiors will be happier, too.

Tron Jordheim is the director of PhoneSmart, an off-site sales force serving self-storage owners for more than 10 years. For more information, call 866.639.1715; e-mail tron.jordheim@phone-smart.net; visit www.phone-smart.net .

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