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Still Keeping Self-Storage Technology at Arm’s Length? Here Are Some Compelling Reasons to Embrace It

Are there fears and concerns holding you back from adding technology to your self-storage business? While it can be intimidating, you shouldn’t let it stress you out. There are many benefits to implementation and many tools and resources out there to support your business goals. Let’s examine some reasons to embrace technology today.

Mark Poole

August 9, 2023

3 Min Read
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Ever wish you could clone your best self-storage employee? Yeah, me too. Though we aren’t quite there, we may be closer than you think. In today's world, the self-storage industry is moving faster than ever. Fueled by pandemic-related consumer needs, our sector is now light years ahead of where it once was. Why? Because operators are embracing new and exciting technology to enhance the many facets of the business.

Over the last decade, I've watched our industry slowly progress. Thanks to the help of innovation and an ever-growing group of forward-thinking individuals and companies, self-storage is on the rise, and technology is feeding its momentum. Let’s look at why facility operators should embrace rather than fear new tools, and how they can help improve your performance.

Virtual Management

Despite the claims of there being fully unmanned or automated self-storage facilities, our industry is still powered by people; but there are ways to create flexibility for our onsite teams. For example, technology can be used to create a face-to-face customer experience without your manager having to physically be in the office. Using virtual-management technology with two-way cameras, they can greet potential renters online and easily guide them through the rental process.

Gone are the days of the dreaded “will return soon sign” on the door when the manager needs to be elsewhere on the property. With today’s tools, your team can always be in the right place at the right time, which leads to greater efficiency and higher customer satisfaction.

Communication

In the past, self-storage managers have been on their own little “islands” when working at their facilities. Usually alone or accompanied by only one other person, they can often feel isolated or disconnected from the rest of the team. This arrangement can lead to inefficiencies and a lack of operational clarity. Plus, owners have very little visibility into what’s happening on site.

So, once again, technology is your friend! From smart cameras to intelligent communication, the ability to interact and engage with your remote team is at an all-time high. With a bounty of tools available, self-storage staff can communicate often. Today’s webcams can even make you feel like you’re all in the same room. Using technology to improve communication will create a sense of belonging and teamwork, even if your staff is people are spread across multiple locations.

Profit

Finally, let’s talk about revenue management. It’s hard to believe anyone ever managed their prices manually. With the need to factor in supply, demand, sales, competition and spoilage rate, it's near impossible to maximize profits without the proper tools. In today's self-storage market, rental rates are more competitive than ever and change so rapidly—sometimes multiple times per day! Archaic, manual methods aren’t only time-consuming, it’s foolish to think you can outsmart the systems available today.

Think of it like a NASCAR race in which the car is the tool. It does 90% of the work, but the driver makes the real difference. In the case of self-storage revenue management, you're the driver. You must use your know-how to use the “car” to your advantage—but you must invest in the car. It’s the only way to move forward!

Whether you're a seasoned self-storage veteran or new to the industry, don't let fear or concerns about hold you back from using technology. The tools you need are more readily available than ever. You can go as slow as you need to, but don’t sit still. Progress is here, and it's up to you to capitalize on it. It's time to adapt and thrive.

Mark Poole is the director of operations for Orlando, Florida-based Liberty Investment Properties, where he heads the self-storage division. He and his team are experienced in development, acquisitions and third-party management services. Mark is an active member and contributor to the industry and has served in many roles including as past chair and current senator of the Young Leaders Group for the Self-Storage Association, and past president of the Florida Self Storage Association. To reach him, email [email protected].

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