There are several access-control products available to self-storage operators today, and knowing which to choose can be difficult. This checklist will help you cultivate the perfect security solution for your new site, or assist in the expansion or retrofit of an existing one:
Keypads. Simply put, you need durable, weather-tested, UL-listed keypads with thick metal enclosures that are properly grounded and sealed during installation. Keypads at all gate entry and exit points are ideal. They’re the only means for tracking how long tenants are on site. This helps you ensure people aren’t sleeping in units. A two-keypad system is the bare minimum for any storage access-control system.
Flexibility is also important. The best keypads have inputs for proximity-card readers, credit card readers, fingerprint scanners and more. Those that allow tenants to pay at the gate after hours, addressing past-due bills at any time are a bonus.
Video cameras. These are another must-have. Cameras make people feel safe, and that alone is a compelling reason to install them at your site. Internet-protocol (IP) cameras are ideal for self-storage facilities because they have the best resolution and zooming capabilities for the price. Most IP cameras are cloud-enabled, which allows you to view your feed from any Web browser or mobile app. Thermal cameras and temperature-monitoring cameras are great add-ons for premium facilities with wine storage or boat/RV lots.
Consider adding pinhole cameras in your entry and exit keypads so you’ll have an up-close view of everyone entering and exiting the facility. It also gives you a close view of tenants alongside their access history so you’re better equipped to deal with internal theft should it arise.
Gates and fencing. The best type of gate for your business will depend on space constraints and the physical layout of your property. Slide gates, barrier arms, swing gates and vertical-pivot gates are a few of the more common types found at storage sites today.
Door alarms and electronic locks. Think of these as two sides of the same coin because they achieve the same goal: securing and monitoring every storage-unit door. Your customers want to know your facility is safe, but more important, they want to know their unit is safe. Individual door-security products help prevent theft and increase the value of each unit at your site. Alarms and electronic locks can increase revenue as well because you can charge higher rental rates for alarmed units.
Control hardware and software. Your system needs to integrate with your property-management software to give you real-time reports and create access codes for new tenants. Ideally, your controller and software allow for mobile gate entry, custom reporting and pay-at-the-gate features. Ask questions about these items when researching systems.
Mobile apps. Apps for gate entry are an unbeatable tool for your access-control system as well as your marketing efforts. Millennials and younger tenants love apps, but customers of all ages love convenience. These tools are like a garage-door opener for your gate and other doors, and are also a great way to make your site more handicap-friendly. The one you choose is important. Select one that works with your access-control system so you’ll have a log of all access activity.
Site graphics. These are a great way to show off your facility and security features to anyone who walks in your office. Let your security be a marketing tool for your property by putting your features on display.
Elevator keypads and controls. These are a bit lesser known, but elevator keypads are rising in prominence as more multi-level facilities are built. Elevator controls ensure tenants only have access to their unit floor, reducing the risk of customer theft.
Christine DeBord manages the marketing and the reseller channel departments at PTI Security Systems, a provider of access-control and security systems for the self-storage industry. To contact her, call 404.649.5594; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.ptisecurity.com.