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The Cashless Conundrum: Banning Paper and Embracing Other Self-Storage Technology

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Is it time for your self-storage business to go “cashless”? Technology has opened a new world for operators including how and when they receive payments for storage rentals.

I recently paid for my groceries with cash. While that might not seem like an anomaly, it was for me. I rarely ever have actual money on me. For the most part, I rely on my trusty debit card when paying for items just about anywhere. Sadly, I have yet to make the jump to mobile pay, so I’m way behind in this trend even though I recognize its ease.

While I’m not a “cash” person, many people are. For some, it’s an easy way to track their money. You’ve likely heard of the “envelope” system made famous by author Dave Ramsey in which you put cash in a physical envelope each week to cover all your expenses. Others simply think a cash transaction is quicker, and it often can be. Then there are those who don’t have a bank account, so paying with bills is a necessity. However, this group is getting smaller every day.

Self-storage operators have grappled with the cash concept for a while now. Accepting any kind of payment—check, cash, credit card—has been the norm for decades. But these methods are evolving in this industry as they are in others, and technology is making it easier and sometimes quicker to take and make payments. This has led some storage businesses to no longer accept paper money from existing and new customers.

While there’s a possibility that you could miss out on rentals from people who prefer to pay this way, most storage operators recognize the major benefits. Facilities no longer need to keep money on hand for tenants who need change. Then there’s the germ factor, which is a huge concern for all of us these days. And more customers are demanding digital-payment options because they prefer the convenience, so operators who provide it are meeting this need. In a thread on Self-Storage Talk, members are discussing the pros and cons of going cashless and whether they’ve made the jump.

Of course, the move away from cash isn’t the only way storage operators are leaning on technology. The pandemic ushered in so many changes and opportunities to streamline operations and create a better customer experience that it can be mind-boggling. What’s the best systems and products for your business? What does it cost? How will staff and tenants be affected? Where do you begin?

The March issue of Inside Self-Storage has the answers. Think of it as your essential guide to industry technology. The articles cover a lot of ground—contactless self-storage, drones, management software, automation, access control and remote management. Take some time to read this awesome content and learn how industry tech is evolving and what it could mean for your business.

You can discover even more about new technology at the ISS World Expo, April 19-22 at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The show’s education tracks will feature several sessions including “Technology You Must Use in Self-Storage Today: What You Gain by Adopting and Lose by Skimping” and “Transitioning from Traditional to Automated Self-Storage … It’s Easier and Cheaper Than You Think!” in the Innovation Track. In addition, be sure to attend Self-Storage Q&A: Technology & Security to learn about new software, electronic locks, automation, mobile tools and more.

Even if you decide to continue accepting cash, don’t rule out digital-payment options including online billpay. Plus, it’s time to explore other mobile-payment services such as PayPal, Venmo and Zelle and, of course, Apple Pay and Google Pay. While it might seem strange for someone to pay their bill via their smartwatch, it’s happening. Rather than tell your customer, “Sorry, we only accept ____,” wouldn’t you like to say, “Yes, we can do that.”

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