Technology is rapidly transforming the self-storage industry, particularly advancements in unit-level access control. People thrive on convenience, and they can now do almost anything using their phone, from starting their car to controlling the temperature of their home. In self-storage, smart locks and mobile apps have become the new mode for unit entry. Not only are they greatly improving the customer experience, they’re helping facility operators better control their sites and reap other business benefits.
The most important point of entry for any self-storage tenant is their unit door, and Bluetooth technology is completely changing that touchpoint. By leveraging a smart lock and mobile app to control door opening and closing, you can transform your site from old-school to modern, offering unparalleled customer convenience while collecting data that’ll yield new operational insights.
Bluetooth smart locks encompass a variety of robust features that increase security and improve the self-storage experience for customers and operators alike. Here are four important ones:
Thermal motion sensors. These can be added to your electronic door locks to detect activity inside a unit when in the locked position, allowing you to know if someone is trying to live inside a unit or break into one. The moment thermal motion is detected, a notification is sent to report the activity.
One-touch entry. With the push of a button on the mobile app, a tenant can unlock all authorized access points at the facility once they reach a certain proximity. This creates a hands-free experience, which is very convenient for anyone transporting items to or from their unit.
“Locate unit” feature. This was created to help tenants find their unit more safely and efficiently. When they hit the “locate unit” button on the mobile app, it triggers the smart lock on their unit door to begin flashing and beeping for a set time, making the wayfinding experience easier than ever.
Digital key sharing. This allows tenants to grant unit access to other individuals. They no longer have to share physical keys or easily forgotten passcodes. They can simply send a digital key through the mobile app. This key can be revoked at any time or set up to automatically expire after 24 hours. In addition, all unit activity during the key-sharing period is automatically recorded and stored in the cloud.
Layers of Benefits
Bluetooth smart locks offer a range of benefits for self-storage owners, staff and tenants. For facility operators, they provide greater visibility and control over the site while providing the option to manage the property remotely when desired. They create an overall higher level of security, even on vacant units. But perhaps the best advantage is the additional time and money they create—time because they automate the overlock and lock-release processes, freeing up staff bandwidth, and money because premium security allows you to charge higher rental rates.
For tenants, the benefits are equally powerful, mostly boiling down to convenience. Not only can they access their unit via their phone, eliminating the need to buy a lock and carry a key, the customer experience can now be fully automated and contact-free. The heightened protection against break-ins is certainly a bonus!
Cost is always a factor when implementing new technology, and self-storage smart locks are no exception. There will be upfront costs, but the long-term benefits will make them worthwhile. If you’re worried about the expense of performing a complete property upgrade, consider conducting your project in phases.
It’s also important that facility staff be well-trained on your smart-lock technology, so they can provide the best customer service. Most providers that specialize in access control offer extensive training programs and welcome kits including instructional videos, tools and digital photo frames that go through the ins-and-outs of the system and help ensure managers are equipped to help tenants effectively.
It’s also important that you upgrade your security software to the latest version as soon as it’s available. Updates often provide new features and functionality, which are designed to enhance your access-control system without an extensive overhaul. Maintenance is typically quick and easy but is critical in sustaining unit protection.
Finally, as with any technology system, you want to make sure you can get 24/7 live support in case problems arise with your smart locks. You need quick, easy access to troubleshooting via phone or email no matter the time or day. After all, the sooner a problem gets resolved, the happier your self-storage tenants will be.
Will DeBord is product manager for the Nokē Smart Entry division at Janus International, a global supplier of doors, hallways and new technology for the self-storage industry. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.