It really is amazing to see the transformation of the self-storage industry in just over a decade. When I started my industry career in 2000, I used a DOS-based self-storage management software. To take a payment, I had to input seven consecutive key strokes, and then a receipt was printed from a dot-matrix printer. The security gate was automatic as long as I manually updated the gate-control system.
My cellular phone was an old Nokia brick, not a slim smartphone. My facility had no website, and my management company barely had one. Most Internet access was dial-up, which worked wonderfully when the stars aligned correctly, not to mention it moved at the speed of a snail. This was also about the time when Napster was the newest file-sharing software and AOL was still an Internet giant. Facebook was still four years away, and a profile was something the FBI kept on you. There wasnt an app for that, the acronym SEO meant nothing to the general public, and a tablet was something our ancestors carved.
How times have changed. High-speed Internet, reinforced with fiber optics and wireless access, has forever changed our lives. We no longer reference a dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia, we just Google the information. Want to read a book? Just download it to your Kindle, Nook, laptop or smartphone. Need information on a new restaurant in town? Read the online reviews at Yelp, Merchant Circle or Google Places. Forget that file at the office? No big deal, just access your computer or smartphone and search the cloud.
When it comes to storage, often all a customer has to do is navigate to a facility website to make a payment, change his address, or adjust his gate access code in just minutes. Yes, technology is great and has made us more accessible and efficient. Can you even imagine having to manage the customer accounts at your self-storage facility by hand? The thought is terrifying. Technology has become such an influential part of our industry.
To learn about the recent technological advances in our business and how to integrate them into your operation, join me at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, March 14-16, at the Paris Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. On March 14 at 2 p.m., I will be part of a panel discussing the topic, New Technological Tools: Automation, Sales, and Operational Support. There will be question and answer session, so bring your questions!
I would really enjoy meeting everyone who reads the ISS blogs, so come up and say hello. I look forward to seeing you at the expo.
Matthew Van Horn is vice president of Cutting Edge Self-Storage Management, a full-service management company specializing in management, feasibility studies, consulting and joint ventures within the self-storage industry. To reach him, e-mail [email protected] .