The world is more connected today than ever before. Cloud-based services have been around so long that universal accessibility at the tips of your fingers is no longer considered a perk, but a basic expectation. This perpetual connectivity not only serves the needs of consumers, but is a tool companies have long leveraged to their benefit.

We constantly provide feedback on how we use the items we buy – whether we intend to or not. When you ask Alexa for tomorrow’s weather forecast, open an app on your phone or stream a Netflix movie – you’re sending valuable data to merchants that will help inform their business strategies.

Data is an asset in any successful business. The self storage industry is no exception. Operators already utilize this type of behavioral data to determine sites for new-builds, and more and more facilities have begun to invest in revenue management systems that rely on data to optimize operations.

The self storage industry has traditionally used older, PC-based systems to control tenant access to properties. This results in a data dead end – or, at best, a cumbersome process to move data manually every 30 days.

Cloud-based access control re-invented self storage access control in early 2018 with the introduction of CIA (Centralized Intelligent Access). CIA was the first component of OpenTech IoE, an intelligent platform of smart connected self storage solutions built with an open API to support the integration of any software or application. Facilities with CIA gain access to the OpenTech IoE Control Center, where operators can gain insights into their renters’ behaviors and streamline business operations with real-time data visualization and reporting.

The primary benefits and features include:

  • Centralized Data
  • Business Intelligence
  • Alert and Monitor
  • Control Devices

It builds operators’ capacity to collect and analyze tenant data. Cloud-based access control systems integrate with Property Management Systems, call centers and data warehouses to provide historical and real-time information. This data, when leveraged correctly, offers insights into tenant behavior that are essential to maximize revenue, reduce risk and enhance the customer experience.

Leverage Tenant Behavior to Maximize Revenue

The power to predict consumer behavior is the linchpin for successful revenue management.

The ability to see how many times a tenant visits the property and how long they are onsite can be an important element to use in your revenue management system. During “move-in” season in May, the average length of time a tenant stays onsite is much higher than the summer months, and then spikes again in October and November.

Based on our data collected from a sample of approximately 500 self storage facilities, between 38 and 42 percent of all tenants on average visit the facility on a monthly basis. This is much higher than the common estimation of 15-20 percent - the industry-wide rule of thumb.

These insights can influence rental rates, marketing and promotional efforts, staffing and security, occupancy costs and more.

With a unique access code tied to each tenant, you can easily restrict customers who have become delinquent. A cloud-based system will track the number of delinquent tenants who attempt to access a property. Tracking these trends is important from an operational perspective.

In January, based on this same data, the number of delinquent tenants who attempt to access a property increases significantly. This trend can likely be attributed to over-extended finances during the holidays. Regardless of the reason, identifying this trend should trigger property managers to prioritize the unit overlock process to prevent delinquent tenants from cleaning out units.

Data Mining to Enhance the Customer Experience

Tools such as “Popular Times” can help you staff your property in accordance with high-traffic times. This tool shows you exactly when tenants are visiting your facility. This same data is valuable to inform adoption of new solutions that better meet the needs of your customers (i.e. If it’s revealed that the majority of tenants visit the facility outside of office hours, solutions that facilitate 24-hour access or onsite payment options could prove advantageous).

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the data that could be captured with a cloud-based system, or the ways operators can leverage that information to enhance their business. New insights crop up often as adoption of cloud-based access control spreads. Where operators once considered themselves ahead of the trend with the implementation of this new software, the conversation has rapidly shifted to deem them behind the curve without it. Even as the technology evolves, what remains consistent (and undeniable) is the power of tenant data to improve the way self storage operators do business.

Jon Loftin

With over 25 years of experience in senior management roles in the self storage industry, Jon is one of the industry’s leading access control experts. He has contributed to the success of Digi Tech International, Chamberlain Access Products Group and PTI. Jon joined OpenTech Alliance, Inc. in 2016 to spearhead the development of OpenTech IoE, an intelligent platform of smart connected self storage solutions.