Self Storage

Self-Storage Automation (Advantages, Misconceptions, & Implementation)

May 15, 2023
5 minutes

Self-storage automation can offer the following benefits:

  • 24/7 access for tenants
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced human error
  • Remote management

Despite the strength of the potential benefits, self-storage automation still comes with plenty of misconceptions. Here are a few:

  • Large initial costs associated with implementation.
  • Generic experiences with no personal touch.
  • Significant learning curves to overcome.

In reality, as self-storage automation solutions have evolved at lightning speed, none of the above points are concerns. This article will do some much-needed myth-busting on automation for self-storage operators.

Self-storage automation is a hot topic in the industry. Many facility operators are exploring the potential advantages of automating their operations. With no shortage of automated self-storage tools and solutions on the market, it’s easier than ever for operators to embrace automation.

Let’s explore what self-storage automation is and address some common misconceptions surrounding self-storage facility automation.

What is self-storage automation?

Self-storage automation is all about using tools and software solutions to manage and automate storage tasks.

Self-storage automation can take many forms, but some of the most common examples include automatic gates and doors, self-service kiosks, and online reservation and payment systems. Each of these automated components can elevate the customer experience and offer distinct advantages for both self-storage facility operators and renters.

For self-storage operators, automation can offer the following benefits:

  • Lower labor costs and staffing expenses.
  • Increased operational efficiency.
  • Remote management capabilities
  • Accurate inventory tracking.

For self-storage renters, automation can offer the following benefits:

  • Convenient 24/7 access for greater flexibility.
  • Enhanced security measures for peace of mind.
  • Streamlined reservation process for effortless booking.
  • Faster customer support with reduced wait times.

When it comes to tenant management, self-storage automation can play a pivotal role in simplifying and streamlining repetitive tasks, such as receiving automated alerts on units approaching the end of their current leases and automatically generating renewal notices. These small tasks have a seismic impact on overall efficiency and, in turn, the bottom line.

Additionally, self-storage automation can have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. By automating the rental process and offering features like online reservations and self-service kiosks, tenants can rent a storage unit on their own terms – without having to wait for assistance from a facility manager. For many customers, this convenience is invaluable.

Is automation a good fit for your self-storage facility?

Yes, if you have access to the right self-storage automation tools.

In general, automation can accelerate workflows and elevate customer experiences. When it comes to utilizing automation tools for your self-storage business, you should strategically pinpoint which areas of your operation will benefit most. Before investing in self-storage automation, it’s important to consider how it could strengthen your customer experiences.

It may not make sense to automate certain tasks or processes – especially if doing so would have minimal impact on customer experiences. To get started with self-storage automation, review the customer touch-points in your self-storage business – from the initial rental inquiry to the "move-out" – and identify where automation can have the greatest impact.

What are some implementation considerations?

Start by considering how much automation your self-storage business needs to successfully deliver exceptional customer experiences. Working backwards and starting with the customer in mind will help you define your automation goals. From there, you can begin to consider the various software solutions available on the market to help achieve these goals.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of automation possibilities for your self-storage business, the best thing you can do is start small. Consider automating just one or two tasks to begin with. Once you have a better understanding of how automation can play a direct role in improving customer experiences, you can increase adoption as needed.

What are the biggest misconceptions about automation?

Large initial costs

While it's true that some automation tools are a little pricey, there are many affordable options on the market. If you are strategically deploying these tools to address weaknesses in your operations, the benefits of automation should outweigh the costs.

Generic experiences with no personal touch

Customer-facing automation tools, such as self-service kiosks and online reservation systems, can actually help you deliver personalized experiences. Automation tools can use data points to generate targeted recommendations and customized rental experiences.

Significant learning curves

For the most part, self-storage automation tools are plug-and-play. Once you have the initial setup out of the way, your team can begin unlocking value from these tools relatively quickly. You should gravitate toward tools that will seamlessly integrate with your existing workflows.

Self-Storage Automation (Closing Thoughts)

Operators should remember these key points on self-storage automation:

  • Automation provides efficiency, scalability, and round-the-clock access.
  • Focus on enhancing customer touch-points during implementation.
  • Utilize user-friendly tools for customization and smooth integration.

When deployed strategically, self-storage automation can raise customer satisfaction levels, improve operational efficiency, and increase your bottom line. As you evaluate automation opportunities for your self-storage business, keep your customer touch-points top of mind. With the right mix of automation tools in place, your facility can begin to unlock its full potential.

Editor's Note: This blog article was originally published December 22, 2022 and was updated May 15, 2023.

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