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Using Automation to Meet Your Self-Storage Business Needs


By Michael Sawyer

Most every self-storage entrepreneur has already built a rewarding business. Be that as it may, that entrepreneurial spirit still drives many operators to consider ever smarter ways to scale and improve.

Unfortunately, instead of working on their business, most self-storage owners end up working in their business with a hands-on approach. And when it comes to focusing on your goals, this has the knack of stealing time away from your priorities.

Automation is a technology solution that supports nearly every business owner’s top concerns. But before considering automated processes, every owner will need to answer to one vital question: Why?

Why Automate?

When you started your self-storage business, you probably thought you’d be free to pursue your leisure and create the entrepreneurial dream that has been forever promised. Instead you found that being a businessperson is more about sacrifice than liberty. For this reason alone, many storage operators use automation—to restore freedom.

They’ve also found that systemizing their manual processes is the best approach to improving business performance. Higher profit, improved efficiency and faster growth motivate them to implement automated procedures.

Becoming a more flexible business is another reason to automate. By offering customers self-serve office hours (online, onsite or over the phone), automation ensures customer satisfaction, more timely cash flow and the ability to maximize sales 24/7.

Automation can also be used to increase employee productivity. Day-to-day efficiency is improved, and labor costs are reduced when a few processes happen automatically and without the involvement of the facility manager or owner.

Regardless of the need and no matter the size of your property, automation is available in the self-storage space to improve property performance and value.

Simple, Not Easy

Like using an ATM outside a bank, paying for gas at the pump or reserving a hotel room online, self-service automation is already proven and preferred by many. When implementing automated processes for the first time, some storage owners choose to dive in at the deep end, while others dip their feet by focusing on one process at a time. There’s no right or wrong way to start. Automating is straightforward, however, building a new routine, one that chooses to make use of the new workflow process, isn’t. Is short, automating is simple but not easy.

To make automation work effectively, it’s necessary to change your old business practices and philosophy. Automation will displace people from the comfort they’ve gained in their current routine. Up-skilling your strong points is really the reason for automation, as your repetitive duties are sent to machines. Once you’re freed from duplication, you can start to focus on using technology to fine-tune your business.

People are usually a little hesitant to try out new things because they want to quickly finish the task at hand. However, a little extra time spent on automating the stuff you do over and over can save a lot of time, effort and money in the long run. That’s one reason why technology was invented: to help with the busy work!

On top of it all, machines are better, faster and more accurate at repetitive processes than people. If you’re doing the same task over and over again, stop and think, “Do I really need to replicate these steps?” That chore could be a good one to automate.

What Can You Automate?

Some automation tools focus on time and tasks, others on transaction management and efficiency, and some on customer service or up-surging revenue. They all attempt to systematize the work that would otherwise require a person. Let’s take a look at each type of technology and how your self-storage operation can benefit.

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