One of the biggest trends in the Self-Storage industry for 2018 is the emergence of unmanned, automated storage facilities. There are a number of benefits for this facility management option, but it’s important to weigh up automation vs classic facility management, based on your circumstances and the location of your facility.
One of the main reasons facility owners may be concerned about the move towards full automation is the increased possibility of security breaches. Although it may seem like a major concern, facility security breaches are rare often at night, when the property manager has gone home for the day.
Lower light levels can contribute to risk. Consider investing in added security measures for your facility; the cost of investing in such items may be better than hiring someone to be onsite 8 hours a day. In the past, unmanned, completely automated self-storage businesses seemed to suit smaller one-site facilities, however, as technology and security improves, the concept of running a completely automated, multi-facility self-storage businesses is becoming financially attractive.
It’s likely that you already have certain parts of your facility automated, using management software like SiteLink or RapidStor for online purchases and having a space calculator on your website, which has replaced a phone call to the facility manager.
Automating these tasks allows more time to focus on growing your self storage business, through marketing and attentive customer service, while reducing labour costs. One Self Storage owner in the United States, Robert Walker, invested in automation for his facility, “In this tough economic climate, automation has enabled me to undercut the market and still be open when my competitors are not. A minimal investment in automation has allowed me to eliminate staffing expenses on Sundays, Mondays and all holidays, saving me $10,000 annually.”
It’s clear that there are many benefits to investing in automation for your self storage facility, besides reducing staffing costs and freeing up your own time to spend on growing your business, there are also many benefits for your customers. As Australians increasingly move towards less rigid working schedules, there is a need to access self-storage unit’s outside of usual business hours.
Many Self Storage facilities that do not have automated access often are only be open while the facility manager is on site, which may not be convenient for many potential customers. In these instances, taking some simple steps towards some automation of your facility will allow you to capture those customers, for example; updating your security access so customers can enter the facility with an individual gate code to access their unit 24/7.
Complete facility automation can be advantageous, as self-storage businesses fitted with kiosks allow their customers to select their unit’s and pay for them all on site, without a manager needing to be present and this is common in the USA but yet to gain traction in Australia. The concept can be a fantastic solution for self-storage operators, as the around-the-clock service allows customers to book and pay for their unit’s when it suits them.
There are a number of other avenue’s that self storage owners may take on their journey towards automation, including over the phone payments and video conferencing with an offsite manager, however, it’s clear that this integration of technology is a trend that is going to continue within the self storage industry. SiteLink customers have already made one of the steps towards automation, as billing and the general facility management is taken care of by the software. SiteLink has also been developed with self-serve kiosks in mind, with integrations to leading kiosk suppliers, allowing customers a faster and more convenient rental solution.