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How Technology Is Changing the Need for Self-Storage Wayfinding

Oct 30, 2021


The Importance of Easy Navigation

The early bird gets the worm, at least, that's what I've always grown up hearing. And to this day, especially when I'm going somewhere new for the first time, I'm always early. There's something stressful about navigating an unfamiliar place, or even a place you're familiar with but don't get to visit very often. The same could be said for self-storage. It can be overwhelming when going to a large self-storage facility and looking for an individual unit out of hundreds that look exactly alike. While your tenants probably won't worry about arriving early at your facility, it's important that they feel comfortable when navigating your property and that they have a good and easy experience each time. That's why wayfinding tools such as signage and maps are so important, and it explains why they've been around for so many years. However, times are changing and technology is advancing which has evolved the need for wayfinding tools in self-storage. That's why we're diving into those technological advancements and how wayfinding needs to shift in order to support that growth. 

Locate My Unit Background Blog

What is Wayfinding?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, wayfinding is "the process or activity of ascertaining one's position and planning and following a route". It refers to the information system in place that directs people through a physical environment, such as a self-storage facility. From signs and maps, these tools should help the individual understand the space and enhance their experience. As we're seeing an increase in remotely managed self-storage facilities, especially after the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for wayfinding tools has changed drastically. Below are some of the most important ways that wayfinding has changed to support technological advancements in the self-storage industry.

Directional Signage 

With any business, signage is very important as it gives the customer direction around your space. That's why every restaurant you've ever been in has signs pointing to the exits, kitchen and restrooms. If you have a large self-storage facility, your signage may include directions to different buildings, units and offices. All of the signs around your property should be easy to read with concise messaging as this helps the customer understand the sign and navigate your facility with ease. 

You'll likely be required to have signs complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These signs include raised text, graphics and braille, and can be used to identify directions, parking spaces, wide walkways, main entrances and exits, and so on. Having the appropriate signage at your self-storage facility is important for making tenants feel comfortable. This will also help capture and retain those tenants long-term. 

If your site is remotely managed or utilizes smart technology such as Bluetooth access control, additional signage and tools may be needed to help explain processes to your tenants. For example, if you have an area dedicated to Bluetooth key fob synchronization, there should be a sign clearly displaying that information for customers.

Key Fob Synchronization Sign

Self-Service Technology 

More and more facilities are utilizing self-service technology to complete daily operations in a contactless environment. Tenants can rent storage units online, use an app to access their facility and unlock unit doors, and move in all without having to come into the office. This even allows you to capture more rentals by fully automating the move-in process for tenants. When using self-service technology, it's important you have the right tools in place to properly direct tenants. Step-by-step instructions, push notifications and 24/7 live support can really help the tenant feel comfortable navigating the ins and outs of your facility via smartphone, no matter their age.

Instructions From Noke Smart Entry App


Smart Self-Storage Units

A growing number of facilities are transitioning to smart self-storage units because they offer a convenient, worry-free experience for the customer while additionally ramping up site security and unlocking a variety of benefits for the owner-operator. Some smart units are even helping with tenant wayfinding via features like "locate unit". 

The "locate unit" feature can be located in the facility's smart entry app. Once the button is clicked, it activates the smart lock on the unit door to begin flashing and beeping for a set amount of time. This wayfinding technology helps the tenant locate their unit much faster and easier than ever before and is exceptionally beneficial for first-time renters, shared key users or less frequent tenants.  By making an overwhelming process easy via wayfinding technology, smart units can help tenants feel comfortable while navigating even the largest self-storage facilities.

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