Why Self-Storage Is on The Rise and How Technology Is Changing Its Landscape
By Bethany Morhouse
Janus International Group
Self-Storage on the Rise
In the last two years, we've seen some major events take place that have significantly impacted the demand in self-storage. First, we saw many companies transition to working from home at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. While things have slowly gone back to a new normal, many people are still working remote. This is because they've found that they can do business just as well, if not better, from the comfort of their own homes. Good news to us, working from home has caused many people to turn towards self-storage because they're having to make room for new at-home offices and equipment.
Another component affecting the self-storage industry is the housing market. While homes continue to rise in value, many Americans made the strategic decision to sell while they could achieve significant profits. Some homes have even doubled in value. Many of the people jumping on this home-selling bandwagon decided to move in with friends, family, or to simply downsize, once again increasing the need for self-storage.
Technological Advancements Changing the Self-Storage Landscape
Technology has only advanced the growth in the self-storage industry and It's time we start considering Generation Z into our sales approach. According to an article published by ISS, Bank of America researchers predicted that Gen Z will be taking over the economy by 2031. What's significant to you about this generation is that they've never known a life without the internet. Everything they do can be done from the palm of their hand, and that will likely have a powerful impact on the way businesses continue to innovate and evolve over the coming years.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people turned towards technology greater than ever before. Scanning QR codes in restaurants so less people were physically touching the menu, using curb-side pick-up and shipt grocery deliveries to limit exposure, just to name a few examples. The self-storage industry has found a way to implement technology too, forming a more contactless and convenient approach than ever before.
Here are a few ways technology has advanced the self-storage industry in recent years:
While facilities lacking a gated perimeter are few and far between, there are many gated facilities that are still using outdated keypads with limited access control capabilities. By transitioning to smart keypads and smart locks, tenants can use Bluetooth technology to open the gate and their unit door from their mobile phone. Not only does this mobile app access create an easier, hands-free experience for tenants, but it gives the site owner-operator more visibility and control over who's accessing their site and when. If a tenant's having trouble opening the gate, the site manager can help them from any where at any time, without stopping what their doing. If you want to give a specific tenant 24/7 access, but limit another tenant to normal business hours, not a problem!
Consider installing keypads that allow you to take past-due payments at the gate. If a tenant has a past-due payment, you can restrict their access from entering the facility; however, you can prompt them to make a payment at the gate to gain immediate access back into the facility and into their automatically released unit. This is beneficial for both the tenant and the site manager because the process is now automated and the customer isn't having to rely on the site manager during normal business hours to re-gain access back into the facility.
Smart Gate at Self-Storage Facility
While we're all familiar with the traditional latch and padlock or cylinder lock and key, smart locks are the new hot topic for self-storage owner-operators. This is because smart locks and unit controllers can be designed with Tesla technology which unlocks a variety of advancements which traditional locks just can't match. Smart locks allow the tenant to unlock and lock their unit from their mobile device, eliminating the need to keep up with physical self-storage keys, making life significantly easier for the tenant and site manager. No more passing keys to family members or remembering to get it off the hook when you leave the house - all of this can be done digitally.
Using Bluetooth technology in each individual lock allows the site manger to check unit statuses remotely, automating lock checks and overlocking processes. This also means that each overlocked unit will automatically release once a tenant has made a payment which is highly beneficial for both the tenant and site manager.
Smart locks can even be designed with thermal motion sensors. This is an advancement worth noting because it brings security down to the individual unit. When thermal motion is detected inside of a closed, locked unit, you and the tenant will receive an instant notification of the event - helping detect break-ins or tenants sleeping in units as quickly as possible.
Much like the iPhone, it appears each year there's a new camera on the market that's better and more advanced than the one before it. Today, many cameras are cloud-enabled and integrate with high-tech security systems.
Cloud-based video surveillance is becoming increasingly common and is a huge perk to self-storage owners because it allows unlimited storage. It also allows the owner-operator to view footage in real-time, no matter where they're at. This footage can be found on a mobile app or online web portal.
Many new cameras have innovative features such as two-way audio and integrations with other devices. Having innovative security cameras and cloud-based video surveillance heightens the security around your facility and opens the door for many benefits and advancements for structuring and operating your self-storage business.