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Running Your Self-Storage Facility From Your iPhone: Tips From a Pittsburgh Facility Owner


By Nick Lackner

My partners and I were self-storage newbies when we opened our facility in Pittsburgh last year, but  we were "old hats" when it came to using the latest technology. We designed our site using technology to provide an excellent experience for our customers. Technology helped us automate management and turned our staff into front-line marketing super stars. While there are a number of pieces in our technology puzzle, most of what we accomplished was done with our iPhones.

The iPhone is an incredibly simple device to use and is truly the Swiss Army Knife of the modern world. Here's a rundown of the top five ways we use our iPhones to provide excellent customer service and make day-to-day management easy. We’re going to do this David Letterman style, counting up to our No. 1.

No. 5: Pictures

Many times during construction, we ran into issues that were hard to describe, especially to contractors who had already moved onto the next job. Being able to quickly take a picture and e-mail it to them saved time and made issues abundantly clear. That got us quick response and avoided unnecessary construction delays.

Nick Lackner, general manager of City Center Self Storage in Pittsburgh, uses his iPhone to improve customer service and streamline facility operation.Pictures are incredibly important for marketing, too. Because our onsite manager always has his iPhone in his pocket, he was ready to capture that perfect picture of our storefront when the clouds broke and customers were busy. Nearly all of the pictures on our website and in our photo tour were taken with an iPhone and e-mailed to our Web developer.

No. 4: Video Conferences

FaceTime is a great video application, but it only works on Apple devices and over Wi-Fi networks. We started using Zoom instead. It works on all major mobile devices and on any computer. Now we can have a video conference in which an onsite manager gives us a tour of a newly built-out section of the building using his iPhone (where there is no wireless network). Our team is geographically dispersed, so this allows us to all see the same thing at the same time, from our iPhones or computers, speeding decision making.

Zoom is also great for sharing computer screens. We use this a lot when our managers have questions about our operating software. We just set up a Zoom session, and they walk us through their issue.

No. 3: Security-Camera Remote Feeds

When it came to selecting our security-camera system, an integrated iPhone app was a must. Now we can log in and see what’s happening in our facility at any time of day or night, whether we're around the corner getting a cup of coffee or on vacation on the other side of the world. The app allows us to take screen captures, so if we notice something, we snap a picture and send it to the onsite team.

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