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17 Apr 2020

Self Storage Owners Going Keyless


Gail Kalinoski

Freelance Writer and Editor

Article written by Gail Kalinoski.

The need to use proprietary doors is just one of the challenges of converting storge units to phone-activated locks.

Many self storage owner-operators are considering how Bluetooth door locks and keyless entry systems might improve customer experience. As a result, mobile apps are being used for access, rentals, lease transactions and payments.

“We’re moving away from a padlock system to a phone-based system using the current tech of choice, Bluetooth,” said Travis Morrow, president of National Self Storage, and chairman & CEO of Storelocal, a self storage co-op. “To me, that is important because we use our phones for absolutely everything these days.”

The mobile app, which allows customers to digitally share key access with another person, is available at the company’s Marana, Ariz., facility, Morrow said. It also makes it easier to track payments and easily lock out a non-paying tenant and restore access once the account is paid.

While Morrow said he would not build another new facility without keyless entry, he also noted it is not easy to convert the locks in existing properties. His system only works on proprietary doors. This is one of the main problems other self storage owner-operators cite when asked about keyless entry.

“We have it at about a half-dozen stores. We are looking to expand that more but really what is slowing us down is there are multiple vendors developing the technology,” said Bron McCall, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Extra Space Storage, the second largest owner-operator of self storage stores and the largest self storage management company in the U.S.

Customer Impact

McCall said Extra Space is expanding slowly, while working with vendors to find the solution they want as their primary source for new properties.

Joe Robinson, COO of SmartStop Self Storage REIT Inc., said his company is testing a system at two facilities. SmartStop owns and/or manages properties comprising approximately 93,000 units in the U.S. and Toronto.

“Every time we look at new technology, we are always looking at what is going to be the impact to the customer engaging with us,” Robinson said. “One of the benefits we have is we can pick a handful of sites to test new technology and deploy it if it makes sense.”

Thunmbnail: Photo by Bagus Hernawan on Unsplash

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