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How to Compete with Staff Shortages as a Self-Storage Owner-Operator

Dec 21, 2021

Combatting Labor Challenges with Smart Locks

It's nearly impossible to turn a blind eye to the "Now Hiring" signs steaked around the community, from restaurants to industrial facilities and everywhere in between. While the demand for self-storage continues to rise, staff shortages have presented to be a huge problem. Luckily, with the right technology, self-storage owners can compete in the new business environment better than ever before.

In this blog, we'll discuss:

  • Reasons for staffing shortages and how it affects self-storage
  • How to find qualified employees amidst the labor challenges
  • Innovative solutions for running your business remotely

There are several contributing factors to the staff shortages and labor challenges in today's post-pandemic world. Many businesses had to downsize or completely shut down to combat increased supply chain costs and pressures. According to the Congressional Research Service, leisure, hospitality, education and service sectors were hit the hardest. We even saw the unemployment rate skyrocket in April of 2020 to a record of 14.8%. While people were losing their jobs just one short year ago, now, businesses are struggling to find enough workers to keep up with their growing demand.

In just October, there were 11.0 million job openings in the U.S. alone, but the labor participation rate was only 61.7%. Whether people decided to work from home, retire early or live off long-term unemployment, there are more jobs available today then there are people willing to fill them. This has made it significantly challenging for self-storage owners to appropriately staff their facilities. While the demand for self-storage continues to increase, there are less people to fill positions across the self-storage industry.

Finding Qualified Site-Managers

Finding labor in today's world is undeniably difficult, but it's even more challenging for industries needing above average candidates, such as self-storage. Self-storage owners are looking for qualified site-managers in a very shallow labor pool. The site manager they choose is critically important to their self-storage facility because they represent the brand and are the main point of contact between all customers. The individual needs to be self-motivated, friendly and reliable. On top of the already present challenges of finding labor, the individuals seeking jobs are looking for higher pay, better benefits, and even remote positions. 

According to an article published by ISS on the current staffing situation, self-storage owners are having to alter hiring strategies by soliciting referrals from existing staff, leveraging technology and even seeking retirees. They're also having to invest more to keep the good ones. Many site managers are now operating multiple sites where they can increase their hours to make more money while helping owners in a time of need.

Innovative Solutions for the Self-Storage Industry

What if we told you, you could operate your self-storage facility better than ever before and provide a more convenient customer experience, all while taking advantage of remote management? While you may think it sounds too good to be true, electronic smart locks are the industry's new game changer. Smart locks can automate once mundane processes and provide visibility into who's accessing your self-storage facility at all times. You'll be able to achieve a more simple, contactless rental and automate process such as overlocking and releasing too.

Noke ONE Smart Lock on Self-Storage Unit being unlocked with Smart Phone App


Contactless rentals are the new buzz phrase of the post-pandemic storage industry. But how does a traditional facility setup contactless rentals? Well, they identify units of different sizes and mark them as available for online rental in their management system first. Then, the manager goes to the units to set them up for a contact free rental. The vacant unit lock is removed from the unit and a new disk lock for tenant access is placed inside the unit. The manager closes the unit and puts a lien tag there to secure the unit. After a tenant rents one of these units setup for an online or contactless rental, they enter the facility, find their unit, remove the lien tag, and find their disk lock inside their unit. This process is simplified when you introduce smart locks. Since keys can be changed remotely, all of your vacant units can be available for online contactless rental. When a tenant rents a unit, they are texted a link to a smartphone app and a temporary password. They download the app, log in and can immediately access your facility and their smart lock. The app can even help them locate their unit. All of this without your manager having to touch the unit. 


Have you ever had an overlocked tenant pay their bill on Sunday night? They want immediate access to their unit, but no one will be at the facility to remove the overlock until Monday morning. So your options are to upset your customer or to send your manager to the site to remove the overlock on their day off (or drive to the facility and remove it yourself). With smart locks on your units, not only is overlocking automatic, but when the customer pays, the tenant is automatically taken out of overlock. So your tenant can gain access to their unit immediately without disturbing your manager after hours or on their day off.

Icing on top? A recent study conducted on tenant technology preferences shows that real tenants love not having to keep up with a physical key or gate code to get into their self-storage facility. Mobile app entry makes the customer experience even more convenient, secure and worry free!



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