Self-storage is a dated industry with a recent interest in keeping up with the trends in automation and technology. In the hills out west, you can find self-storage sites utilizing index cards instead of PMS Software, over in the southwest you can find owners who haven’t made the shift to implementing credit card processing services, and up and down the east coast there are owners paying managers above minimum wage to sit on sites that have a foot traffic count of less than 10 people a month.
Why? The solutions are available. Technology is ever-evolving. The vendors are ready and waiting at all the state and national shows. The answer is simple. Owners don’t think that anything needs to change.
For too long, owners and operators across the country have been stuck in the traditional way of operating self-storage, without recognizing the imminent need to pivot toward the new market trends. The next generation of storage users are going to expect to interact with technology. The shift in our industry needs to reflect mobile applications, responsive websites, and total automation put in the hands of the user. Making the shift now before it’s too late is what will give individual facilities the one-up in the years to come.
As our industry continues to grow and population numbers in big cities keep trekking upward, there has to be a level of convenience added to the operation. When multiple self-storage facilities are all situated on the same road with comparative pricing, how are you going to challenge the consumer that you are, in fact, the best option? By providing tools, resources, and tech available to make their lives easier. What owners need to recognize is that very soon the consumerism market is going to be predominately of the Millennial and Gen Z age groupings who do everything from their phone. There is also little to no argument that their counterparts in Gen X and boomers aren’t able to jump on board as they are equally equipped to use smartphones, mobile apps, and emerging tech.
Our way of doing business, buying and selling goods, and receiving services has totally transformed the market into accepting and believing in the tech to support their buying decisions. For those that were hesitant to recognize this shift, the Covid-19 Pandemic catapulted these individuals and markets straight into the utilization of tech that was readily available. We use self-checkout at the grocery store, kiosks at the airport, mobile apps to order everything from dog food to household goods, and the list goes on. Why would self-storage be any different?
Automation and technology integrated into the human experience of renting storage units are the future of self-storage. Across the country and through many of the large REITs we have seen the introduction of two-way video software, virtual managers, live personal assistants, or whatever each individual company chooses to name its software platform. This software introduction is not necessarily new technology in the world of tech, but it is a new way to utilize this technology in the self-storage asset class.
The upside of utilizing this type of technology is seemingly endless from an operator standpoint. It allows for managers to remotely manage multiple facilities from a central location thus cutting payroll down significantly, while also allowing for the current and future tenants of the storage site to feel seen and heard by having a unique experience with the storage manager even if the experience is virtual. It creates the opportunity for the employer to cast a larger net to potential employees and hire at a higher threshold with the job description encompassing more work than the traditional store manager. Finally, and maybe most important to owners looking to expand their portfolio, is this software allows for the company to grow at a speed that our asset class has not yet been able to keep up with. Without the added pressure of manning a location or worrying about who will control the daily operation, the option is now available for the business to utilize one employee efficiently across multiple sites. We’ve seen many large owners and operators move toward implementing this technology into their daily operation as a means to cut costs, service customers, streamline move-ins, and grow quickly.
However, the question then quickly becomes how do I implement this technology without giving a large cut of my proceeds away to a third party management company? That’s where KISS Solutions makes a significant impact in the industry. It is the only software solutions company readily available to install on-site without a third-party management component.
Utilizing this smart tech doesn’t mean that you have to give up the control of your self-stroage facility. Instead it does quite the opposite, in allowing you to have full control with a hands on approach from afar.
Mason Shaw is the Operations Manager for American Storage South, which owns facilities in the surrounding Charlotte area. In addition, she is the Product and Sales Manager for KISS Solutions. A software solutions company she helped co-found with Robert Kapp, Owner of American Storage South. KISS Solutions offers automation and technology platforms to help run the daily operations of self-storage facilities. For more information about KISS Solutions, email firstname.lastname@example.org . To reach out to Mason, email her at email@example.com
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