Where Self Storage Automation and Customer Experience Meet

March 17, 2022

Self Storage Automation Graphic
6 min

Automation is inescapable. From traffic lights to learning algorithms, society is filled with automated processes and the machines that execute them - but utilizing automation in self storage can still be scary. Some types of self storage automation could bring concrete benefits worth far more than their cost, but others might be a complete waste of money for your facility. 

Deciding how to automate self storage facilities boils down to whether or not the addition improves your customer’s experience.

This can happen by freeing up your management to take care of other tasks, or it can improve the customer’s experience directly. From simple to complex, if the technology you’re considering isn’t going to improve your customer’s experience, save your money.

Check out our Gabfocus session on automating your facility here!

Self Storage Automation Creates a Better Customer Experience

Automation does tasks that humans would otherwise have to do, which saves time and labor that can then be spent elsewhere - this is the obvious benefit. However, good automation does more than take a specific task off your plate. 

Good self storage automation does it better than you could.

For starters, good automation - such as a great self storage website - doesn’t need to sleep. Automation is always ready to greet your customer, answer their questions, and shepherd them on the road to renting.

Unlike human managers, your technological offerings are always ready to take a reservation. In some instances, potential customers can go all the way to paying and signing the lease at 3am on a Sunday, then move into their unit first thing Monday morning. Automated lock codes enable your guests (and only your guests) to access the facility when you aren’t there. Confirmation emails reassure them that their payment has gone through, and automated reminders help them pay on time.

All of these automated features are vital, not just because they save you from having to perform these tasks, but because they improve your customer’s experience.

Why is the customer experience so important?

One might be tempted to think that providing a good storage unit at a good price would be enough to do a good business - and sometimes it can be! But if you want to get the most out of your self storage facility, you’ll need to do more.

Providing a good customer experience is worth more than the money you’ll get from a long term customer. In today’s world, positive reviews are better than gold. 90% of customers make purchases based on positive reviews, which means that satisfied customers may be the most valuable marketing asset your company has.

90 percent of customers read reviews

Word of mouth has always been important to small businesses, and with the advent of online reviews, word of mouth reaches even farther. Study after study proves that reviews drive business, especially for small businesses. 

For self storage, happy customers are even more important, because our industry relies on continued use. A customer who has a bad experience isn’t just one month’s worth of rent gone - that unhappy customer could represent years of lost rent.

So, what makes a good self storage customer experience?

Think of the companies that are most in tune with the modern consumer. Think of those that have grown explosively in the last ten years - Amazon, Netflix, Uber, GrubHub, etc. etc. While these customers do offer good products, their selling point isn’t that their product is the best. It’s that their products are the easiest to buy and use. 

The same principle applies to self storage, and should direct your attention to certain types of automation that can make the customer experience faster and easier. 

Customers who are accustomed to buying what they need on Amazon with one click will have little patience for cumbersome rental processes. Delays in service, delays in access, and lack of reminders and confirmations could all create a less pleasant customer experience. With that in mind, here are a handful of options on how to automate self storage.

Return to Top

5 Ways Automation Makes a Better Customer Experience

    1. Online rentals - Customers want to do business online, on their time. They want to take their time shopping and comparing options, without the pressure of an in-person interaction.
    2. Automatic access codes - Access apps enable your guests to enter your facility and their personal storage unit without carrying around keys or memorizing codes. Access only requires the smartphone they likely have on them anyways.
    3. Confirmation emails - Every big company sends confirmation emails with purchases, and so customers now expect them. If you’re renting online, confirmation emails function like receipts, and they reassure your guests that everything went through correctly.
    4. Reminders - Friendly reminder emails or texts can encourage your customers to stay current on their payments. This prevents unpleasant situations in which a customer is charged late fees because they simply forgot to pay.
    5. Automated Chatbots - Chatbots can answer a lot of your customers’ questions easily, and the questions they can’t answer, they can send up to the manager. Chatbots are always on, and always give the answer you’ve told them to give.

Automation Makes Running a Self Storage Business Easier

Automation can help your customers by providing them instant service. It can also help customers by freeing you up to take care of all the other tasks. Consider adding automation to take over tasks that computers are great at and humans aren’t.

Automation is fantastic for keeping records. Good property management software will keep track of all your yearly transactions, which is particularly handy come tax season. Throughout the year, your software will keep records of who has paid what, who still owes what, and who is in each of your self storage units. Bookkeeping software can send out bills, accept payments, and keep track of all your transactions with minimal input from a person.

Security features can be automated as well. Access control keeps unwanted guests out and security cameras can record everything that happens at your facility, whether you’re there or not. These features can help protect your facility and increase customer confidence when they store with you.

5 Ways Automation Helps the Manager

    1. Property Management Software - This is the entry level automation that almost every operator already takes advantage of. If you’re not using good property management software, check out our self storage management software blog.
    2. Security - Automated security features give you more than just peace of mind. Secure facilities can deter thieves and reduce both losses due to theft and the time spent dealing with those issues.
    3. Bookkeeping - automated record keeping software, which may be part of a larger property management software, is nearly a necessity for self storage operators.
    4. Communications - Automated emails, text reminders, and calls save you tons of time. Especially for large self storage businesses, it can be almost impossible to contact everyone you need to without automation.
    5. Chatbots - Chatbots are great for customers because they’re always available; they’re great for you because they cut down on the amount of time you or your managers spend answering questions.

How To Automate Self Storage for a Great Customer Experience

When thinking about automating your facility, the number of options can be overwhelming. There’s also a danger of automation for automation’s sake. Operators don’t want to miss out on helpful technology and can be quick to jump onto a bandwagon that may not be headed the right direction.

Automating your facility involves weighing costs against potential benefits, with the potential benefits often being very murky. Considering the change to your customer experience can give you a way to start assigning a value to the benefit automation could bring.

Satisfied customers are the most valuable marketing resource self storage operators can have, as they have a massive impact on future business. Satisfied customers are also the foundation of your business - without renters, there’s no self storage facility. In making any decision on how to automate self storage, improving your customer’s experience should be your focus

Return to Top

Check out these other great posts for advice and resources that will make running your self storage business easier!

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

Lease up with inbound marketing!

Utilize the customer journey to generate leads

Customer Journey Playbook - Cover Shadow