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January 9, 2019
The kiosk may be a trendy item in the self-storage industry, but it's not a game-changer that's going to help you break through to a higher plateau of revenue.
In reality, your tenants probably won't be looking for a kiosk. Even if they are, you can win them over with a well-designed website.
The smartphone is the primary reason your new tenants won't be disappointed if you don't have a kiosk.
A mobile-optimized website can do all the important things a kiosk does, like assign gate codes, provide help with choosing units, and accept payments - all without having to visit in person.
All you need to do is let your website visitors know how easy and convenient the process is.
Around 72% of Americans have smartphones, and most of them are happy to take care of your signup process online, by themselves. Customers should be pleased with the ease of it all and you, on the business side, should have the kind of control you want.
For example, a good storage application will let you choose between three options: to allow the customer to choose their gate code, to assign a random code and email it to them, or to assign a random code and withhold it from them until they arrive.
It's all initiated and facilitated by smartphones (or tablets/desktop computers).
Since kiosks usually replace human attendants at facilities, a common question is what to do about walk-ins when you have no kiosk and no humans around.
Keep in mind that walk-ins are becoming rarer all the time.
Mike Castleman, a storage entrepreneur at Castlerock Interests, measured walk-in activity and found that only one facility visitor arrived without first visiting the website or calling the office.
Most new customers research their options online, which is why local marketing and your website are so important.
Nonetheless, there is a simple solution for walk-ins. Just place a large sign with your phone number and website address at the facility's entrance. Let your visitors know that the signup process is quick and easy on the website.
Now you know why kiosks aren't the be-all, end-all element of your storage business. Suppose you want to invest in one anyway?
You would have to consider the costs. To install a kiosk, it will cost at least a few thousand dollars. More advanced models cost as much as $20,000.
You'll need to pay for ongoing services like software upgrades, tech support, and hardware maintenance. All of that could cost up to several thousand dollars per year.
Unlike stationary kiosks, your website can reach anywhere a mobile device can go. It ties your marketing efforts directly into your operations.
Ideally, your website becomes a part of everything from the search for a facility, to move-in, to payments - guiding customers through the entire process. Make it work like a well-oiled machine, and you'll have a leg up on the competition!
You don't have to (and probably shouldn't) take on your website upgrades alone. A good web designer knows exactly how to increase your site's effectiveness at a reasonable cost.
The best-case outcome, as we've explained, is a website that gets customers signed up and moved in before they can say "kiosk schmiosk."
Website visitors should be motivated to sign up and pay before they even visit or call your facility or office, bypassing kiosks. That's how you really make a difference.
Let's see how Mike Castleman, the storage entrepreneur, puts it.
“To me, the kiosk is just more hardware. In my opinion, the modern day version of the kiosk is the smartphone. It’s the ‘kiosk in a pocket’ idea. It’s just like when you go to take a flight. You book your flight from home and you get your ticket through your phone. You can do it all from your house and you don’t have to wait in line to talk to a person or use an airport kiosk.”
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