7 Ways for Self-Storage Operators to Capitalize on Mobile Technology

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Take payments from customers. Having technology that enables customers to pay using their mobile phones provides convenience and saves time for operators and tenants, Sawyer says. In some cases, it can even boost your chances of getting money from a delinquent tenant, according to Joe Krezdorn, owner and manager at DAK Self Storage in Leesport, Pa.

Sometimes, Krezdorn will get a call from a tenant who’s at the gate, locked out because of a delinquent bill. “I’ll tell them, ‘I’m not there and I won’t be in until tomorrow at 9 a.m.,” he says. “They’ll say, ‘That’s no problem, I’ll just pay from my phone.’” Once the customer makes the payment, he can enter the gate and access the unit, as long as the unit isn’t overlocked.

Nudge customers to pay past-due bills. Some self-storage software programs offer the ability to send text messages to customers, which can help with the collection process, says Markus Hecker, chief operating officer of SMD Software Inc., the provider of SiteLink self-storage software. Text messaging can reach tenants when e-mail and other methods might fail. Hecker cites research showing consumers take an average of only 90 seconds to respond to a text message, but 90 minutes to answer an e-mail.

Perform routine management tasks. Some mobile apps allow operators to open and close security gates, turn lights on and off, and run video surveillance on the property, Hecker says. “They can basically control the whole property from whenever and wherever they are via their smartphone or tablet.”

Monitor the security of the facility. As an out-of-state owner, Hedrick appreciates the ability to check a facility’s security cameras from his phone if an alarm goes off after hours. “You can see if somebody’s in your office at 2 a.m.”

Mobile technology also lets customers ensure their stuff is safe. For example, with PTI Security Systems’ StorLogix software and Falcon XT system controller, operators can control site security from their mobile devices and send a text or e-mail alert to tenants when a unit is opened.

Begin With the Basics

If you’re not yet using mobile technology, Sawyer recommends you start with the fundamentals. First, make sure your website is compatible with mobile devices. Then get a jump on the competition by creating the ability for tenants to complete the rental process on your website.

Only a small percentage of properties do this now, Sawyer says. “Have a functional website that will allow them to pick out a unit, pay for the unit, sign the lease electronically, and show up at your business and already be a customer.”

Allie Johnson is a freelance writer based in Columbus, Ga. She writes regularly for SpareFoot, an online marketplace for the self-storage industry, and its blog, The Storage Facilitator, as well as creditcards.com, insurancequotes.com, costhelper.com and other websites.

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