Gabfocus Spotlight: Should you have a remote or a manned facility in 2024?

March 19, 2024

self storage help video quote
3 min

As the storage industry's adoption of tech started booming during 2020 and 2021, talks about fully remote facilities became much more common.

Some operators believe that full automation has led to a better return on investment and even a better customer experience. Others believe that it doesn't hold a candle to the experience offered by a very hands-on approach.

Where have you landed in this debate?

Tommy and Melissa sat down with our friend John Chang (Marcus & Millichap) to discuss the question.

Question: "Should you have a remote or a manned facility in 2024?"

Check out the video clip below to hear their answers:


In this Gabfocus Session: 2024 State of the Industry, Tommy and Melissa were joined once more by John Chang of Marcus & Millichap. He broke down what trends and insights he could offer for the self storage industry heading into 2024.

Check out the full Session to dive deeper! 

Don't want to watch the clip? Here's what John had to say:

So remote. If it's all digital, right? If I can control my unit, access, everything. I never have to talk to anyone, especially with younger generations, with Millennials and Gen Z. If they could do it on their phone, they're happier.

If they can have 24-hour access, and they can do it all electronically, they're generally happier.

But when there's a problem, they want to talk to someone, right? So you have to have some level of customer support there.

With real people.

Now, Baby Boomers lean the other direction, right? They like to talk to people. They want to go in and be able to. They don't want to try to figure out some app. They don't want to go in and figure that. They want to go in and say, "Hey, I need to rent a unit here. Let's go in and we'll walk out and you can show me which one's available." They're much more interactive that way. It's old school.

So you kind of have to understand who is your customer, right?

Every marketing strategy should be based on who is my customer, what are their wants and needs, and how do I solve those, right? What want or need can I support or service that I'm in a unique position to provide?

You have to understand the landscape of your competition. What are they doing? How are they operating? But you need to understand that customer base first and position accordingly.

So both have advantages. If cost is not an issue, maybe some sort of a hybrid, right? You want to have all the electronic services available, but you also want somebody there during regular business hours, to provide that customer service and that support.

If you have to pick one or the other, it's going to really depend on who your customer is."

—John Chang

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