In a previous article, we explored how optimized self storage websites can do virtually everything kiosks can do while offering customers greater flexibility and convenience. (For the record, the two advantages kiosks have over websites is dispensing locks and accepting cash—capabilities that don’t justify a kiosk’s hefty price tag!)
Self storage facilities install kiosks to give customers access to their units after office hours.
Many self storage facility owners erroneously believe that kiosks are the only way to operate an unmanned facility. However, this isn’t true.
Self storage facilities can operate while unmanned by combining optimized websites with call centers, cloud-based access control, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Consider the case of Mike Castleman, owner of four self storage facilities in Texas. Castleman removed the kiosk at his Flower Mound facility and now uses his website instead.
To Castleman, running unmanned facilities with online rental center services are the future of self storage.
According to Castleman, “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.”
In Castleman’s view, “Kiosks are a fixed solution. They’re bolted to the ground. My business model is about interacting with the consumer where they are, not where you are. I think the future is the smartphone. It goes wherever the customer goes, and it’s wherever the customer needs it.”
Not convinced? Here are seven reasons why you don’t need a kiosk to operate an unmanned facility to get the most out of your investment.
1. Cloud Access Control Can Provide Access To Units
Cloud-based access control is the most significant advance in self storage access control. The system’s central component is a cloud-based gate controller, which gives tenants access to the facility with their assigned code.
Most cloud-based gate controllers have built-in hard drives that store tenant codes in case of Internet connectivity problems.
Facility managers can use any Internet-connected device (such as a smartphone or tablet) to provide gate access to contractors, police, and service providers during non-business hours.
Managers can also change codes on the fly or block access, which is ideal for clients who forgot their codes or haven’t paid their rent.
2. A Website Can Offer Online Rentals and Lease Signing
StoragePug websites allow customers to rent units, sign up for insurance, and sign leases with just a few clicks.
By letting new tenants rent units from your site, you’ll gain more customers.
Our E-Sign technology allows new customers to sign their lease agreement online and provides you with a digital copy. When customers arrive on site, they are ready to go—saving time and paper.
Because StoragePug websites integrate with your facility management software, units rented online are immediately marked as unavailable.
StoragePug can also integrate portable storage rentals onto your site.
3. A Call Center Can Handle Phone Calls
Sometimes customers want to talk to a real person. When you aren’t in the office, a DIY Call Center from CallPotential might be the solution.
The DIY Call Center allows you to customize location-specific scripts and route calls based on needs or skills.
The DIY Call Center integrates with existing property management and phone systems, which means no additional labor or hardware. It also eliminates the need to hire and manage call center agents.
4. A Website Can Accept Payments
StoragePug websites enable your customers to pay online. Our payment portal provides customers with fast, secure, and easy payments without leaving your facility's website.
The payment portal integrates with all major management software systems and allows your tenants to manage their accounts, pay their bills, and use AutoPay or PrePay.
By offering AutoPay or PrePay, your facility will have fewer customers with delinquent accounts.
If you’re tired of tracking down late payments, StoragePug’s email and SMS payment notification system sends customized reminders to ensure more payments come in on time.
Our payment portal also allows customers to download their lease and view their payment history.
5. IoT Can Monitor Facility Operations Remotely
The Internet of things (IoT) is one of the hottest areas in technology. IoT extends Internet connectivity beyond standard devices (such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets) to a wide range of traditionally “dumb” or non-Internet-enabled physical devices.
IoT devices are embedded with technology that communicates and interacts over the Internet—allowing the devices to be remotely monitored and controlled.
IoT devices enable you to use your smartphone to do things such as open your garage door, turn on a light, adjust your thermostat, or unlock your door.
Already popular in the home, IoT is increasingly being integrated into self storage facilities—allowing facility owners to adjust thermostats, turn lights on or off, adjust security cameras, and so forth.
6. A Website Helps Customers Locate Your Facility and Check Rates
When looking for a self storage facility, most people go online to research rates and gather information.
To ensure that people find your facility, you want an optimized website that maximizes SEO and puts your facility at the top of search results. Kiosks cannot help with any of this, but an optimized website acts as a 24/7 marketing manager for your facility.
StoragePug websites provide your facility with modern marketing tools that attract tenants. Our marketing tools track your search rankings versus your competition so you can see how you compare on key search terms.
You can also check your SEO rankings from any location to see what your customers see. StoragePug can also help with online ads and review management.
7. A Website Allows Customers To Schedule Move Outs
The StoragePug customer portal allows customers to schedule their move out dates—yet another example of what an optimized website can do so you don’t have to.
By enabling customers to manage their accounts on your website, you’ve provided them with convenience and flexibility and relieved your staff of tedious paperwork and tasks.
Technology is supposed to make things easier for people. For self storage facilities, it is possible to run an unmanned facility by optimizing your website and integrating a call center, IoT, and cloud access control. You’ll be offering customers all the services they need and expect without the expense and hassle of installing a kiosk.
To read more about my favorite StoragePug features, take a look at: