Time for a Tech Check? Hiring an Expert to Evaluate Your Self-Storage Business Tools and Processes

Whether you’re just introducing new technology to your self-storage business or have been using it extensively for some time, it’s good to know where certain tools are helping the operation and where improvements can be made. Hiring an outside expert to fully evaluate your tech stack can generate critical insights that allow your facility to flourish.

Reza Raji, Senior Vice President

June 4, 2024

4 Min Read

The self-storage industry is at a crossroads. A surge of new investors has led to some regions being oversaturated, which is driving down rental rates. At the same time, high interest rates and inflation have increased expenses per square foot. Operators who are looking to protect and increase revenue in this competitive environment must ask themselves: What can I do to ensure my business thrives?

The smart money is on technological advancement. In its 2024 “National Self-Storage Outlook,” market-intelligence provider Yardi Matrix asserted that the real estate investment trusts are increasingly relying on technology to optimize operation and maximize income. It’s a logical strategy. In this economic environment, operators need to focus on controlling expenses, identifying new revenue streams and appealing to potential tenants. Smart technologies are effective in achieving all three goals.

Technology implementation can secure your self-storage facility’s healthy future, but under present circumstances, any significant financial outlay can seem like more risk in an already challenging market. While a tech-forward approach may seem like a luxury only institutional operators can afford, it’s more accessible than you might think. The trick is to make smart investments that are aligned with your budget and will futureproof your business. Engaging an outside expert to evaluate your current tech stack and make recommendations is a great place to start.

Expert Insight

Self-storage may have been slower to adopt technology than other commercial real estate markets, but that’s actually great news! It means there are already providers with deep experience in the creation of Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems for industrial buildings. Storage operators don’t have to reinvent any wheels. You can draw upon decades of connectivity expertise to plan upgrades that’ll serve your goals and give you the flexibility to evolve your business over time.

Smart technology, though mature, is also fairly complex. For any given objective, such as improved site security, better remote monitoring or a more modern customer experience, there are dozens of solutions on the market. Not all connect in the same way. Some use familiar wireless protocols like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, while others employ an alphabet soup of alternative technologies that help improve signal range or communication through materials like steel and concrete.

Choosing the right solutions and getting them to work together in, for instance, a monitoring dashboard for an unstaffed self-storage facility takes expertise. A third-party evaluation outsources the complexity, allowing you to focus on your business goals and how technology can help advance them.

The Evaluation Process

A self-storage technology evaluation should be tailored to the facility operator’s needs, desires and business reality. It starts with an in-depth discussion of site characteristics, priorities, pain points and goals. You should also be prepared to discuss any legacy technology systems on site and what you’d like to do with them. Maybe you want to leverage them in an updated, more unified ecosystem or replace them altogether. Perhaps you’ll choose to leave them in place but will phase them out at new sites or during future maintenance.

Your technology consultant will use this information to develop recommendations. They’ll likely suggest new devices and subsystems that can help modernize your self-storage operation. They should also propose solutions for uniting system monitoring and control. You’ll always get more value out of systems that work together than from devices that have to be painstakingly managed separately.

This phase should include some “boots on the ground” network testing as well. The tech expert will need to understand the current state of wireless network coverage, including Wi-Fi signal strength, bandwidth, interference and dead zones. They’ll also need to assess what other networking technologies are needed to support current and future smart applications. This testing and research will inform network design, including multi-protocol components and repeaters to future-proof the self-storage site for any application.

Choosing a Partner

When it comes to a self-storage technology evaluation, look for a partner who can offer you two things: expertise and ongoing service. Many providers can offer design, consultation and integration services that’ll result in a system that functions perfectly on day one; but it’s critical that you have a trusted partner who’ll support you for the long run. Inevitably, you’ll have new needs as your business matures. An ongoing service relationship makes it easy to adjust to changing requirements.

The right partner can help you build and maintain a unified smart-technology ecosystem without overextending your business. Have early, honest discussions with the vendor about your budget. They should be able to adhere to your requirements while providing a future-proof solution that can grow with and protect your investment.

Ultimately, to beat your self-storage competition, you need to invest in technology. It’s the key to attracting the next generation of renters and growing new revenue streams that’ll carry the industry through the current period of capacity glut. An expert evaluation now will position you to make the right strategic decisions for years to come.

Reza Raji is senior vice president of the Smart Spaces IoT (Internet of Things) division at Vantiva, a technology firm and global provider of broadband and internet products. The company offers Smart Storage, an end-to-end software for self-storage operations. Reza has spent more than 30 years developing IoT solutions and the technologies behind them. To reach him, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Reza Raji

Senior Vice President, Smart Spaces

Reza Raji is senior vice president of the Smart Spaces IoT division at Vantiva, a technology firm and global provider of broadband and internet products. It offers Smart Storage, an end-to-end, IoT software for self-storage operations. Reza has spent more than 30 years developing IoT solutions and the technologies behind them.

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