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Designing Your RV and Boat Storage: Being Smart With Technology Pays Off

Apr 26, 2024

The following is an extremely informative article written by John Bilton, Director, Western Nokē Sales about how Nokē can be beneficial when designing or updating your boat and RV storage facility. It was originally posted on Toy Storage Nation, but it is so good we wanted to share it here as well for you to see. Enjoy!

Written by John Bilton – Director, Western Nokē Sales at Janus International

Back in 2020, COVID had an unexpected and immediate impact on the RV industry. There were far more RVs sold during the pandemic than anyone had anticipated, simply due to the fact that people wanted the opportunity to get out of their houses, but in a controlled environment. Along with that boom in sales came the need for storage for those new, very expensive toys. People were, and are, willing to pay a premium to keep their new vehicles safe.

When I was approached to give my thoughts on the topic of construction design for Class A RV and boat storage, I knew this was a great opportunity to dive into a topic that can always benefit from more exposure. There is a great deal of money to be made for owner/operators when tenants are looking to secure and protect something that can cost upwards of $500,000 or more. And with the latest self-storage smart technology making the entire process, from signing a lease to opening their unit door, much more efficient than ever before, a premium can be charged for these smart solutions, making ROI even greater.


I’d like to dive into some of the most important areas to consider when designing or updating your ideal RV and boat self-storage facility, with a special focus on security, and how the latest technology comes into play.

A person with a Class A RV is looking for a Class A place to store it. And the first thing that level of facility needs is maximum security, beginning with the fence or wall, as well as the entrance gate. There’s a facility in Northern California that has a 10-foot rock wall encompassing the entire property, as well as a 12-foot steel entrance gate. Needless to say, it looks like a fortress, so the curb appeal is tremendous. Of course, most facilities do not have that type of option, but a secure wall or fence along with a secure gate not only gives the appearance of maximum safety, but it also delivers on that look, keeping some very expensive items safe and secure.

Here is where we first touch on smart solutions. Your first line of defense is your gate. Incorporating a smart solution such as the Nokē Smart Entry system, a Bluetooth electronic lock and total access control system that allows customers to easily access your facility and their unit from their smart device, gives tenants and owner-operators alike peace-of-mind.


Tenants can safely open the facility gate through their smart phone, eliminating the step of leaning or getting out of their vehicle to deal with a freestanding keypad. They can also say goodbye to keys with a simple tap of a button on your facility’s app. This technology makes for a safer and more convenient experience for tenants.

We conducted thorough market research in 38 states and three Canadian provinces about tenants’ preferences on technology. 87% of the respondents said they would rather use their mobile phone to unlock their entry point or their unit, so that speaks volumes to us about what tenants want in today’s safety-minded environment.

Speaking of research, the Self-Storage Association conducted a study for 2023, and one of the top items important to tenants was anytime access, with almost 80% of respondents saying they would pay extra for 24-hour access. Smart entry systems like Nokē provide that convenience, so this is yet another way owner-operators can monetize the public’s desire for doing things on their time.

From the owner-operator’s perspective, a smart access control system means the end of random and anonymous code-sharing. Another user can be added to the tenant’s account, meaning total transparency as to who is entering the facility, when they entered, and for how long. You’ll always know who’s coming and going, as well as their contact information. This means there is nobody on the property who is unknown to the owner-operator, and that’s a huge step toward a more secure facility. It also makes it incredibly easy for the owner to see when someone is overstaying their welcome, either by sleeping in their RV, using their unit to work on an old car, or any number of other unauthorized uses.

Incorporating surveillance measures such as access control and well-positioned security cameras, as well as bright lighting and good signage, all act as great ways to vet potential tenants. When bad actors scout out a facility for weaknesses, they will instead find a strong, secure facility that is far from ideal for their purposes and will look elsewhere to rent. Access Control Technologies is the perfect example of a name you can trust for elite access control and surveillance solutions.


Sure, it may be a bit more expensive to install a smart access control system, but your clientele is looking to protect some very expensive toys, so you can charge a premium for these services knowing your tenants will pay for the convenience, and more importantly the sense of safety and security your facility provides.

Another advantage to utilizing smart technology is the convenience of the shopping and onboarding experience for both tenants and owner-operators. Going back to COVID for one more minute, if there is one thing that period of time taught us, it’s that people want the advantages of being able to rent in a contactless, remote manner. They don't want to sit down at a desk and spend 25 minutes filling out paperwork. That can all be done online now. Having a good website with good online onboarding tools and the right property management software integrated with a technology like Nokē Smart Entry, means a much more convenient experience for everyone.

And once again, that acts as another valuable tool to vet the type of customers that you receive. It gives you better control and knowledge about who they are. You can even use software to conduct what is called a non-intrusive background check on a potential tenant. This can be done in moments online, adding yet another level of security when vetting potential customers.

When it comes to boat and RV storage, another way to attract customers is by introducing a variety of services into their facilities. After all, people who are paying for such high-end toys want to keep them looking and running in top form all year round. For instance, adding a dump station, a wash station, running water, even access to propane, are all ways to increase revenue by charging more for these options. In addition, this is another instance where Nokē smart solutions can benefit the owner-operator, as they won’t need to have a full-time attendant there to control the administration of those services – smart technology at work.

One last topic I’d like to touch on is the importance of data in designing your ideal boat and RV self-storage facility. Data has become much more important in the self-storage industry than it was five, or even just two years ago. If you don’t have the right access-control technology and security at your facility, then you lack the proper data to know what’s going on at your property and how that effects the rate decisions that you make. I think this is an extremely important factor that frequently gets overlooked.


For example, one tenant might visit his unit every single day, while another might only visit a few times a year. You might rate those tenants differently, but without the proper data it’s a missed opportunity, as you cannot make data-driven decisions regarding active users or units, or compile activity trails to give insight on when to staff more or less.

I fully realize there are additional costs in adding smart solutions to your self-storage plans. And this is how I respond when that topic is brought up by a customer: If you’re going to do a site, you want to do it right, and what you really want is to attract a higher-end clientele that will pay a premium for the latest in safety and security. These upgrades are assets that will be there for decades and can be enhanced and modified easily as technology continues to advance. If you’ve done your market research, you’ll know the kind of favorable rates you can get for these offerings, and you won’t feel left behind by the newest tech, since you’ll be a part of it.


Technology and security and now blended together to create the ideal atmosphere to maximize both revenue and rental potential for any boat and RV site. And when you think about it, that’s really what it’s all about.

You can learn more about Nokē Smart Solutions and how they can benefit your facility here. And see how Access Control Technologies can increase the safety and security of your business here.

About the Author:

John-BiltonJohn Bilton is the Director of Western Sales, Nokē Smart Entry for Janus International Group, Inc. Mr. Bilton joined the Janus/Nokē team in December 2018, immediately following the Janus acquisition of Nokē. Prior to that time, he served as Senior Vice President of the Storage of America team, working to bring increased efficiencies in entitlements, sourcing, relationship management, and strategy. 

Prior to joining Storage of America Mr. Bilton was Vice President of Business Development and Client Services with Centershift, Inc., a Software as a Service provider for the self-storage industry and a spinoff of Extra Space Storage. Mr. Bilton was also past Chairman of the Board of Career Path High and a two-term City Councilman for the city of Farmington, Utah. 

Before entering the self-storage industry, Mr. Bilton spent 20 years in technology and manufacturing business development in various leadership positions with both private and publicly traded companies, including 3Com (Acquired by Hewlett-Packard), US Robotics, and Megahertz.  

Mr. Bilton holds a Master of Business Administration degree as well as an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University. He has also participated in postgraduate training courses at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. He resides in Farmington, Utah with his wife Jana, their four children and their dog Daisy.

 About Janus International Group

Janus International Group, Inc. is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of turn-key self-storage, commercial and industrial building solutions, including roll-up and swing doors, hallway systems, re-locatable storage units and facility and door automation technologies. The Janus team operates out of several U.S. locations and six locations internationally.


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