This morning I was buttering a slice of banana bread when suddenly I realized I forgot to pick up a Christmas gift for my father-in-law with only three days until Christmas. Cue instant panic over my otherwise relaxing breakfast.

I immediately opened up the Target app on my iPhone and started looking for something. Since I was so late to the game, shipping wasn’t an option, so I only looked at items available for purchase online and pickup in-store. I found something perfect for him - a book for Bourbon lovers - that was available for pickup in the Target nearby the storEDGE office. I completed the purchase online while waiting for my Keurig to brew my coffee to go. I swung by Target on my commute to the office and picked up the book, which was ready and waiting for me. Crisis averted. ‘Twas truly a Christmas miracle.

What does my over-dramatic Christmas shopping story have to do with self storage tenants? It’s all about self-service technology, the umbrella term for online tools like autopay, e-sign, online Rental Center™, and login portals for account management. Consumers expect online convenience, regardless of industry. Because of self-service convenience, I was able to easily fix my Christmas shopping mistake. I did some quick research and found exactly what I needed, all without ever leaving my kitchen.

7 out of 10 consumers expect company websites to offer self service tools.

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Self storage customers want the same convenience whether they’re renting a unit or paying their monthly bill. In a recent consumer survey, 67% of respondents said they prefer using online self service tools over human contact when interacting with companies. Even more, 91% said they would prefer using an online knowledge base (like a FAQ page) over speaking with a representative on the phone. But consumers don’t just prefer online self service: 7 out of 10 consumers expect company websites to offer self service tools.

Infographic with statistic on consumer preference.

Why does it matter?

Your tenant’s rental account page is key to providing the full convenience of self service technology. With our self service tool, Rental Center™, new visitors to your website can check out information on storage unit sizes and amenities at your facility, rent a unit, and sign their rental agreement digitally, without ever leaving their kitchen. But after you’ve converted leads into paying customers, your website needs to work for them as a tenant.

67% of consumers said they prefer using online self service tools over human contact when interacting with companies.

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  • Tenants expect online bill pay to work seamlessly. Autopay is a must-have for digitally connected customers. After all, do you really want to call your tenants and remind them of their bill every month? Automate their rent payments so it’s one less thing that you and your tenants have to think about every month.

  • Digitally savvy customers want to serve themselves. They really don’t want to pick up the phone and call you. Or even worse, drive to your facility to hand over a rent check. Digitally connected consumers rarely write checks and despise doing so when they could’ve just done it online instead.

  • It creates a digital record of leads, tenants and pay statements. It’s easy to make sure a certain tenant paid rent last month or look back on their entire payment history when you’re using a service that tracks and manages online payments. Customers can even opt in for rent reminders via text or email, and get a customized history of their payment statements delivered to their inbox.

Infographic with statistic on online knowledge versus speaking with a representative.

How to make your website tenant-friendly.

Besides just having a user-friendly website, make your website ultra tenant-friendly by offering digital rental and account management tools on your website. You can do it in three easy steps!

Step 1: Make sure your website is integrated with your software.

Online rentals require up-to-date availability, pricing and reservation tools. Integration makes this process seamless. Every time a manager updates a unit price or marks a unit as reserved in your software, the change is reflected on your website. This prevents big mistakes like renting a unit that’s already been reserved or listing units at old prices online.

Step 2: Accept online rentals using an online, self-service interface.

Online rentals are the fastest and easiest way for customers to rent a storage unit. It basically extends your office hours to 24/7 to allow new tenants to rent at their own convenience. Set up online rentals on your website with digital signature capture, online move-in, gate-code assignment, and payment processing.

Step 3: Set up online account management tools like autopay.

A tenant has successfully rented a unit on your website. Hooray! Now make sure they pay their bill on time every month. Set up automatic billing with bank-to-bank payments to automate monthly rent collection and avoid annoying rent collection calls.

Step 4 (optional): Skip steps 1-3.

Use an all-in-one online interface like Rental Center™ that integrates with your software, runs on any device with an internet connection, and completes online move-ins effortlessly for both customers and self storage managers.

Do you utilize online move-ins at your facility? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page and let us know! If you liked this article, you may also like: 5 Easy Ways to Rank Better in Google Search, Facility Maps: What You Need to Know, and 5 Key Lessons for Smooth Tenant Move-ins.