What do you think the typical self storage renter will look like in five years? What about 10 years? Technology evolves rapidly, and renters are quick to embrace time-saving tools like online rentals, e-sign, and bluetooth locks. Consider this: “The Jetsons” cartoon characters were set in 2062, and we have already seen many of the cartoon’s futuristic ideas come to life. The Jetsons’ robot housekeeper Rosie is like a combination of Amazon’s virtual assistant “Alexa” and the Roomba vacuum, flying drones are now available for purchase at any big box store, and the Apple watch is a real-life George Jetson-style smartwatch. In many self storage facilities across the country, automation has completely replaced the need for on-site facility managers.

One thing is for sure: consumers of the future will certainly still need self storage as square footage and cost of living continues to increase in popular U.S. cities. What we don’t know is what the average self storage facility and storage unit rental experience will look like. So what can you do to make sure your storage facility’s technology isn’t obsolete by 2024? Find out how you future proof your storage business for a world dominated by smart technology by reading on below, or check out the full article on Commercial Property Executive.

Invest in modern technology

Remember 10 years ago when hardly any of your competitors had a website? Now, online marketing is absolutely essential to running a successful storage business. Renters won’t even be able to find your facility if you’re not listed on Google Maps! Since technology evolves so quickly, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest in self storage technology to avoid falling behind.

So what’s coming down the pipeline? Simplified data, for one. If you’re like many self storage owners, you have no shortage of data from your self storage marketing, software, access control, and security tools - you just don’t have a simple way to analyze and use that information to propel your business forward. Modern self storage technology tools are working to bring all of these disparate data points together to simplify self storage management and make it easier for owners to invest in and manage remote facilities efficiently. To prepare for the technology of tomorrow, it’s important to modernize your facility’s current data, tenant records, and business information. Without prior investment into technology, it’ll be difficult for your storage business to quickly adapt to fit changing technology standards and keep up with the competition.

In the future, we can expect to see more integration among technology solutions such as the blending of security tools like surveillance cameras and unit alarms, marketing tools like paid advertising and targeted online rates, and property management tools like smart smoke alarms and Nest thermostats into facility management software.

If you’re building a new facility, it’s important to design your property with future technology in mind. Even if you’re not ready to install smart self storage doors now, don’t seal off that opportunity for your facility’s future. Building your facility with technology in mind is a great selling point for any future deals, and being prepared for technology updates will set you up for success when you inevitably upgrade your security cameras or gate systems, or if you decide to start automating certain aspects of your business. Work with a modern self storage builder to ensure that everything is well thought-out for future technology updates and automated remodels.

Embrace automated tools

In my recent interview with Commercial Property Executive, I outline four technology tools that self storage owners and managers can start using today to automate time-consuming daily tasks:

  1. Smart storage units for automated overlocking

  2. Cloud-based access control for easy remote monitoring of property access points

  3. Online rentals and reservations for automated move-ins and lead capture

  4. Two-way emailing and texting for easy payment and rent collection

So what’s the big deal with automation? Simply put, automated tools help save your managers time and attract renters. Renters want efficient, self-service tools like online rentals and bill pay, 24/7 access, and e-sign for a fully digital lease. Paperwork is a pain in the butt for renters, and most people just end up filing their self storage contract digitally anyway by scanning it or photographing it for cloud storage. Skip the unnecessary step of printing the lease and save your renters and managers time by taking your lease completely online.

Automating certain parts of your business frees up time for managers to complete more important tasks, like following up on leads and providing excellent customer service.

To check out today’s state of the art automated tools and find out what technology is on the horizon, consider attending an industry trade show. Self storage trade shows are a great place to learn more about the latest technology tools available and get live demos of automated tools used by newly-designed facilities and fully-automated storage businesses. There are automated tools for every facility size and budget. If you’re trying to make every dollar stretch, integration is key: by seeking out vendors who offer connected solutions that work together seamlessly, you’ll save on integration fees and setup costs.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this blog post, you may also like: No, automation isn’t killing customer service: An interview with Self Storage Domination Management, Will minimalism eventually rise up and kill self storage?, and Why you should take your access control to the cloud + a free webinar so you can try before you buy.