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15 Feb 2022

Is Manless Self Storage the Future?

Jack Raistrick

Union Realtime

Self storage facilities have been around for many years, and the popularity of them continues to grow. However, is there a new trend in self storage that is starting to gain traction – the manless self storage facility? Face-to-face interaction has been strained as a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic, resulting in an increase in people working from home, meetings over the internet becoming the norm and a rise in contactless technology. Manless self storage facilities are becoming a more appealing alternative for both consumers and businesses as a result of this new way of living. However, like most new trends, manless self storage facilities do have their disadvantages along with their fair few sceptics.

Firstly though, what constitutes a manless self storage facility? Well, it is essentially a self storage facility without any staff on site. The facility runs completely autonomously, with customers accessing their units via an app or keypad. This eliminates the need for customers to contact with another person.

There are some obvious benefits to using a manless self storage facility. The first being that customers can avoid the risk of coming into contact with others, which is especially important if they work in a field where there is a higher chance of contracting the virus or other illnesses. This is of-course beneficial if the customer is in a vulnerable category and needs to access their unit as they will feel safer in the knowledge that there is an unlikely chance they will run into someone when visiting their unit.

Secondly, manless self storage facilities are open 24/7, allowing customers access day or night. This can be extremely beneficial for business owners who need to access their unit during times when manned facilities are closed, such as early in the morning or late in the evening.

Moreover, staff expenditure is cut, ultimately meaning the business does not have to pay for employees to be onsite. Allowing the business owner to invest the extra funds available on other elements of their business such as marketing or expansion to their site.

Manless self storage facilities are also environmentally efficient because all actions are online and automated. Whether the client has a question, wants to make a payment, make a reservation, or make a booking, everything is done online.

The manless self storage facility seems to have many advantages; however there are some disadvantages too.

Firstly, and the most obvious one - for some anyway, is that manless self storage facilities do not offer the customer service that a manned facility can. This could be important for people who are not as technologically savvy and need some help when using the facility. With the increased use in technology for manless facilities, are they completely disregarding the older generations who may not be as confident in using technology? This is a large demographic within the self storage industry. Also some customers value personal interaction and engagement, they will appreciate seeing a friendly face at reception. Customer relationships are lost when facilities are manless.

Secondly, manless self storage facilities are still in their infancy and as such, the technology that runs them is not always perfect. There have been cases where customers have not been able to access their unit or there have been delays with reservations and payments. This can be frustrating for the customer and they may decide to take their business elsewhere as a result. Also the technology can be expensive to implement and maintain as well as being susceptible to technological malfunctions.

Finally, manless self storage facilities do not offer the security that a manned facility can. Even though manless facilities are very secure, with CCTV and other features in place to prevent theft and damage, they still cannot compete with the security offered by a manned facility. Manned receptionists provide an extra layer of protection when manning the front desk as well as manning the gate. They are able to monitor who is coming and going, which manless self storage facilities cannot do.

In conclusion, the manless self storage facility is the next evolution of self storage in many ways, like with many industries, making use of modern technology in order to simplify their business. They have many advantages and disadvantages in comparison to manned self storage facilities, it is up to the customer whether they feel that the pros outweigh the cons for their individual needs. However manless self storage facilities are becoming more widespread throughout the world as technology becomes further embedded into our lives.