Future Technological Outlook for the Self-Storage Industry
July 19th, 2021
Future Technological Outlook for the Self-Storage Industry
For many years, I advocated self-storage as an excellent way to invest your money. It is, in my opinion, a recession-resistant and frequently overlooked way to invest. Several factors, including growing urbanization, increased downsizing due to the coronavirus, lifestyle changes, and others, are propelling the self-storage industry forward.
On the surface, the storage industry does not appear to be technologically adaptable. After all, self-storage and warehousing are fairly straightforward. Isn't it true that all that is required for success is a lot of empty buildings, locks, and electricity?
Owners and operators in the storage industry may tell you otherwise. Marketing, management, accounting, maintenance, leasing, and a variety of other tasks are required for a successful self-storage business. More operators are embracing technology to run their businesses more effectively and efficiently, saving time and money.
Is there growth potential?
Despite today's economic challenges, the self-storage industry is expected to see an increase in demand. It has demonstrated tenacity in the face of a volatile market, and forecasts indicate that it will be worth more than it was last year by 2024. This is a positive sign for many consumers and investors who are looking for such services.
Would downsizing fuel demand?
Downsizing is the fuel that keeps the self-storage industry moving forward. Downsizing is a lifestyle trend that benefits storage facility rental companies. The appeal of living a minimalist lifestyle is appealing to many homeowners and tenants, which drives the demand for temporary storage space.
Downsizing is becoming more popular in the housing market as people prefer compact living spaces such as condos. This prompts homeowners to consider whether they should keep or discard their larger possessions. Houses are also embracing a more contemporary aesthetic, which has the same effect.
While downsizing a business is not always an option, it can be beneficial in terms of freeing up financial resources and generating additional income, allowing for greater flexibility. It also has a plethora of advantages. The demand for space will rise, which is great news for self-storage owners.
Business storage is a great way to assess what you need and don't need, and it allows businesses to stay organised and function optimally, especially if your company has grown rapidly or has been hard hit by the recession.
Most businesses require some sort of storage space; whether it's spare computers, desks and chairs, products, stock, or other equipment, it's likely that you'll need somewhere to keep these items when they're not in use. As a result, a self-storage unit provides businesses with the ideal solution for storing a wide range of products, from confidential documents to stock and equipment.
Is an online presence helping to meet that demand?
Although the majority of self-storage customers live within a few miles of the facility, online rentals allow you to reach customers who live outside of your immediate geographical area. Plus most people conduct online research before deciding on a self-storage facility—nearly 70% of your customers visited your website before visiting your facility.
Because of the nature of the business, the self-storage industry, in particular, is well suited for online rentals. Customers can rent units, sign leases, and pay for insurance with a few mouse clicks at rental stations.
By allowing customers to conduct rental transactions themselves, an online presence saves time, money, and resources. The lease and other pertinent information are made available digitally. Online rentals also free managers from time-consuming paperwork, allowing them to concentrate on more important tasks. Not to mention, online resources attract millennial clients as well!
What’s new in the industry?
Self-storage companies are now providing tech-savvy customers with online reservations, self-service kiosks, and biometric security solutions, all while saving money with management platforms. Some businesses are adding HVAC units where there were previously none, and their profits are rising as a result.
Here are a few examples of how technology is helping the self-storage industry.
Solar power for storage:
Solar energy is an excellent choice for powering your self-storage facility. Self-storage facilities are uniquely positioned to benefit the most from solar. The energy consumption at these facilities is typically very consistent, with no spikes in usage. This type of electricity consumption profile is ideal for solar energy.
Solar panels provide an environmentally friendly alternative to regular CO2 emissions from utilities while also providing a high return on investment. Solar panels can absorb energy from both indirect and direct sunlight even on cloudy days. Year-round energy saves you money on your electric bill. Excess energy generated by your solar panels is distributed via the national grid. Everyone wins!
Apps for mobile devices:
The millennial generation is obsessed with technology in almost every aspect of life, and some self-storage companies are gaining a competitive advantage by providing mobile apps to control access to their units. Self-storage tenants no longer need to keep track of a specific key or access card. They can use their phones to access and manage the storage unit thanks to specialized mobile apps.
Self-storage companies can use a mobile app to start and renew leases, update access codes, and communicate with the storage company.
More online transactions:
Because of the pandemic, transactions between self-storage unit owners and customers moved online. Self-storage unit owners have been dealing with customers online for the sake of safety. Technology and the internet are used for more than just communication; they are also used to inspect units.
More self-storage companies will invest in virtual tours, online bookings, and payment options this year. The trend toward a more digital approach to renting storage space will diminish the benefit of physical location. It will open up new avenues for emerging innovators to steer the industry in a new direction.
Security is an important aspect of the self-storage industry. People are paying to have their belongings securely stored. Biometric technology provides secure access that is nearly impossible to circumvent.
Biometric security measures a person's unique characteristics, such as voice patterns, retinal patterns, or fingerprints. A fingerprint scanner, for example, could be used to gain access to a building.
While biometric security systems can combine identification and authentication, they are not the same thing. A person's features are compared to an entire database when using biometric identification. In contrast, with biometric authentication, the system checks to see if the person is who they say they are – so their attributes are compared against one specific profile on the database.
Biometric security is being introduced to self-storage access by tech companies such as Innuvo. It has developed a high-level security system that employs biometric access control. For maximum security, the system employs facial recognition technology that measures a variety of unique measurements and characteristics. These attributes are scanned and compared to customer records.
Biometric security is becoming increasingly important in the self-storage industry. Physical characteristics are distinct and fixed, even among siblings and twins. A person's biometric identity can replace (or at least supplement) password systems for phones, computers, and restricted areas.
Some self-storage owners and operators have already realized that upgrading to high-efficiency HVAC units and raising rents can result in a profit. However, HVAC can be complicated, and many self-storage owners simply do not want to or have the time to deal with HVAC maintenance. After all, it's just another thing that could go wrong! That’s where remote monitoring comes in.
Solutions like Building 36, for example, provide instant/real-time data on unit performance and can frequently detect an issue and dispatch a technician automatically by integrating with a service provider like Motili. This type of integration can help to reduce the time it takes to manage potentially time-consuming tasks like finding, scheduling, and dispatching contractors.
This storage automation technology is changing the game by increasing the bottom line of storage facilities while reducing the workload of owners and operators.
Software for Self-Storage Management:
For years, facility managers have relied on management software, but the cloud is integrating technology with the customer experience. Cloud-based software now provides owners and managers with up-to-date data on all aspects of the business, as well as the ability to automate routine tasks, saving time and money.
Some software even dispatch maintenance requests, provides insight into customer and financial trends, and simplifies accounting by combining all required data from multiple sources. The management software serves as a command and control hub, integrating the other technologies for an automated business model.
In business, there are no guarantees of success – but there are guarantees of failure. One of them is missing out on trends and failing to keep up with market developments. The way people work and live has unavoidably changed, not least as a result of the pandemic.
Many technological trends have been advanced and are now widely accepted as market standards. There is a need for the self-storage industry to be open to adopting new technological trends for continuous growth.
The future is upon us, and the outlook is favorable for all. Find the right partners and employees, and let the promise of tomorrow's technology help you grow your business, delight your customers, and return dividends to your investors.
GreenFill Storage Blog