The self-storage industry is becoming progressively more competitive. Record years of new development have resulted in an oversaturation of supply and flat or falling rates in many markets. Now more than ever, operators must find opportunities to differentiate their facilities and achieve an advantage. Security technology is means to that end, but success isn’t automatic. Your chances hinge on your awareness of the tools available and your ability to combine them in a comprehensive, integrated system.
Self-storage operations have always used security to achieve a competitive edge and impress prospects. Facilities with updated fences, gates and other highly visible components offer the peace of mind customers require. But consumer expectations have evolved. In today’s market, robust physical security isn’t enough. Tenants also expect sophisticated technology that complements the mobile and online tools on which they rely in other areas of their lives.
It’s also essential to recognize that the benefits of security technology extend beyond customer acquisition and retention. In many cases, it enables you to operate more efficiently and at a lower cost—critical factors in achieving success in flat markets. The latest tools leverage several trends that are reshaping many industries: mobile, the cloud and smart devices. The combination of these innovations enables you to deliver a significantly enhanced level of security without additional staff.
So, perhaps now’s the time to evaluate and modify your current security strategy. If you’re interested in enhancing your system, following are four key areas on which to focus.
It’s common for self-storage operations to shore up their perimeter fencing with tools like cameras, LED lighting and motion sensors, which not only deter criminal activity, they provide visible proof of your commitment to security. The most competitive operations enhance these measures with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. IoT-enabled cameras and video-analytics solutions automatically detect intruders and other risks, instantly notifying facility operators and local authorities. By enabling a real-time response to potential threats, you can significantly increase your security capabilities without hiring additional personnel or third-party contractors.
Sophisticated video surveillance is achievable by integrating cameras with artificial-intelligence platforms. Since most operators agree that video is extremely important to their overall security strategy, advanced technology should rank high on your list of priorities.
Access-control systems represent a baseline in self-storage security because they manage tenant movement through the property. In addition to hardware such as gates and keypads, they include software. They might also comprise mobile apps and electronic door locks. The cloud provides opportunities for still more features and functionality, such as remote accessibility from mobile devices, automated data backups and advanced analytics. These improve security and efficiency by enabling facility operators to monitor trends and align on best practices.
By leveraging new technology in your access-control system, you gain control and visibility. In addition to granting or restricting access in real-time, you can quickly respond to issues or incidents and track key metrics related to site activity and tenant behavior.
Electronic smart locks, which are designed to operate wirelessly and integrate with your access-control system, are the gold standard in self-storage door security. They offer premium benefits for operators and tenants. On the customer side, they:
- Reinforce the protection provided by traditional locks
- Allow unit access via keypad or mobile app
- Offer customized monitoring capabilities
For operators, they mitigate the risk posed by unauthorized individuals who gain access to the site. You can also take that total security assurance tenants gain and an easily market it to prospective renters.
Robust security requires more than an assortment of advanced technologies. To function effectively and efficiently, each of the tools you implement must be connected to and integrated with others in your operation as well as a centralized platform. Without integration, it’s impossible to achieve many of the benefits associated with technology use. Items that may require it include:
- Access-control systems
- Security hardware (gates, doors, locks, etc.)
- Video-surveillance systems (cameras, lighting, emergency-notification systems)
- Cybersecurity components
- Network security
It’s crucial to tailor your strategy to the needs of your specific facility. Before updating your technology, understand there are several actions that’ll determine the level of integration you can achieve:
- Creating a comprehensive security plan
- Targeting and acquiring the right technology elements
- Properly installing hardware and software
- Arranging ongoing support and training for your team
- Maintaining and troubleshooting security components as needed
- Accessing third-party advice about upgrades or add-ons
Security integration typically falls outside the skillset of most self-storage operators. Fortunately, trained professionals can provide expertise in planning and connecting your operation’s subsystems. You can rely on them to coordinate, install and optimize the complex range of hardware, software, network and hybrid Internet solutions on which you rely.
Some Final Words of Advice
The prospect of planning and implementing a comprehensive, technology-rich security strategy can be daunting, even for seasoned self-storage operators. But your efforts won’t go unrewarded. Investing in the right tools can generate significant returns. Here are a few final tips to help keep your upgrade initiative on track:
- Assess your competitors. Determine the security technologies being used by other storage operators within a 10-mile radius, and implement those that can position your facility as the market leader.
- Create a realistic budget. Get estimates from established vendors and prioritize improvements using real numbers.
- Upgrade in stages. You don’t have to implement all your new technology at once. By creating a comprehensive strategy, you can add components in phases based on your priorities.
- Consider working with a security integrator. You don’t have to manage an upgrade on your own. A trusted consultant can guide the process and help you achieve the most value.
Security capabilities shape tenant perceptions, which determine your ability to compete. As market saturation and other factors continue to exert pressure across the self-storage industry, technology is quickly becoming a key differentiator. But by prioritizing it, you can improve your ability to succeed, now and into the future.
Sarah Davis is a marketing and public-relations specialist for PTI Security Systems, a global provider of access-control technology solutions for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.523.9504; e-mail [email protected].