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Exploring Mobile-Technology Solutions for Self-Storage

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By Jon Fesmire

While some self-storage operators may fear new technology, it should actually make their lives easier. Let’s explore how mobile-based tools like the Internet, smartphones, cloud services and the right software are making the day-to-day job of running a self-storage business simpler than ever before.

Meet George

Facility manager George works for a self-storage company that’s using outdated technology. When he starts work each morning, he goes to the office to check his tasks for the day. He has a notebook full of reminders, a few Post-It notes from a co-worker and a handful of voicemail messages. The messages are from potential tenants, so he calls and asks them to come into the office to sign up; but only one is willing, and another has already rented a unit online from a different company.

With his clipboard, George walks the facility and checks locks. He finds a dented roll-up door and writes notes about it. When he gets back to the office, he calls maintenance and waits on hold to report the problem. He then checks voicemail again to see if there are any new leads.

Next, he enters his property-inspection information into a spreadsheet and e-mails it to his district manager. Between writing notes, waiting on hold and typing data, he’s already spent half his day.

George uses paper forms and notes, and has to relay information to his district manager via phone, fax or e-mail. If there’s property damage, he has no photographic evidence to help him explain it. He tries to stay organized, but almost every day, something slips through the cracks, potentially leading to an angry customer or unfinished task. The good news for George and all self-storage operators is new technology makes all these tasks faster and easier to manage. It even makes processes and information more reliable and accessible.

Technology has evolved at lightning speed in the past decade. Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007, and since then, mobile technology, apps and WiFi speeds have greatly improved. The general public has gained access to cloud computing and storage. Essentially, the stage has been set for mobile facility management.

Managing Your Facility With Mobile Technology

Now let’s take a look at what George’s work life could be like if he had the right tools. Let’s say he works for a company that keeps up with the latest technology trends to ensure the business runs as smoothly as possible.

George gets up in the morning and logs onto a cloud-based facility-management system on his smartphone that lets him know what new tasks he has for the day. He has one voicemail from a prospective renter. He had received two messages from the system regarding potential renters last night, so he called and instructed them in how to rent a unit online. He noticed before bed that one had already rented. Thanks to mobile technology and a website that’s able to rent units at any time of day, George hasn’t lost any potential sales.

George sees he’s expecting a big delivery of storage supplies that must be signed for by a facility employee. He calls a part-time manager, Jenny, and asks if she can cover him in the office so he can work elsewhere on the property.

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