An increasing number of self-storage operators is making the leap toward tech-savvy facilities and reaping the unquantifiable benefits. Not only is it apparent that you must integrate technology into your facility to stay relevant in the eyes of the consumer, it’s the most practical way to conduct business today. Tech tools have streamlined operation, making employees’ jobs easier while providing an array of data to which we’ve never had access before.
There was a viral post on Facebook recently about how much people value their time, and because of it, they’re willing to pay extra for value-add services. From investing in smart home-security systems that allow mobile-app monitoring to paying an extra $10 to have groceries delivered to their doorstep, consumers will pay for convenience, and technology delivers it.
This investment obviously comes at a cost, but it also allows you to generate more revenue—not just because it makes your self-storage facility more attractive to customers but because you can actually charge tenants extra for the use of specific tools. If you’re adding more technology to your site, here are some ways to capitalize on it financially.
Return on Investment
It’s now possible for self-storage facilities to use smart-entry systems that allow customers to quickly and easily access the property and their unit. I’m talking about Bluetooth electronic locks that allow mobile-app entry, thermal motion sensors that’ll tell the customer when someone is inside their unit and other useful tools. Customers are attracted to features that heighten their rental experience and willing to pay for them. That means there’s an opportunity for you to significantly improve your revenue stream.
Not only can technology increase your facility income, it can lower your operational expenses. Once activities such as daily lock checks and overlocking are automated, managers have more time to focus on sales. Plus, they have remote visibility of onsite activity, which means there’s less need for full-time onsite staff.
Market research and customer feedback support the conclusion that smart self-storage facilities can command premium rates. The idea is to charge more for units with smart locks, for example, than those that use a traditional disc lock. In fact, some operators have reported up to double-digit growth, with their 10-by-10 smart units making approximately $25 more per month than their standard 10-by-10s. You can even charge a facility-wide technology or software fee as another way to monetize your investment.
Finally, tech-enabled visibility into tenant-access data allows you to tailor your self-storage rental rates to specific behavior. For example, you might charge a higher rate increase to a tenant who’s very active on site than one who rarely visits the property.
There’s a lot that goes into setting a pricing structure for your regular self-storage units, and smart units are no different. To determine fair market rental rates, you’ll want to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your own facility and review what comparable properties in the area charge. Also, examine the current area population, the potential for population growth and your market reach. Don’t hesitate to bring in an expert if you need help.
A tenant entering their unit using a mobile app
The great thing about technology is it’s an attractive solution for a variety of users, which means smart self-storage facilities can succeed in a wide range of markets. You’ll just need to do some research on the front end to determine what tech features might sell well in your area. For example, younger customers tend to favor technology, which means a tech-based revenue model can work well in college towns and urban centers.
Some self-storage operators claim smart units sell themselves because tenants are drawn to the fully automated process and units with higher security. However, marketing is still essential. When promoting your tech offerings, don’t just rattle off features such as one-touch entry and digital key-sharing, explain how the user benefits. For example, key-sharing means the tenant no longer has to exchange a physical key or share a code to allow someone to access their unit, plus the digital key is customizable, traceable and revocable at any time.
Last but not least, check with your technology vendor to ensure they offer staff training as well as educational resources. Before they can sell the value of your technology features to customers, employees need to understand how to use it themselves.
Technology is an investment in your self-storage operation, which costs money; but it’s a revenue-generator, too. Not only does it allow you to attract more business and charge higher rental rates overall, you can charge premiums and even additional fees for access to specific tools and features. Instead of being just a line item on your list of expenses, it can become a robust, viable profit center all on its own.
Bethany Salmon is a marketing-content manager for Janus International Group, a global provider of self-storage doors and hallway systems, relocatable storage units, facility-automation solutions, and restoration services. To reach her, call 866.562.2580 or email [email protected].