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How Many Self-Storage Facilities are Using Smart Technology Today?

May 02, 2022

More and More Customers are Demanding Self-Storage Technology

Many self-storage owner-operators get trapped in the mindset that technology doesn't fit their site's demographic. Whether they have older tenants, a rural market, or they've run self-storage facilities for years and don't see the need to "re-invent the wheel". However, times are changing and it's important to remember the famous Catherine Devrye quote, Remember that the 6 most expensive words in business are: 'We've always done it that way'.

According to a recent study polling 25k active self-storage tenants across the United States and Canada, tenants want technology! In fact, over 85% of them would prefer to ditch the old-school keys to open their gate and unit door with only their smartphone. If you want to operate and manage a successful, long-term business, you must think about how the self-storage industry (and all other industries) are changing, and where we'll be in the coming years. So, who's using technology at their self-storage facilities today? The short answer is everyone will be soon, but to be more specific... 

Who's using self-storage technology at their facility today?

  • Several of the REITs are using technology today
  • Many operators in the top 100 across the United States, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, UK, and as far as Latvia
  • To be more exact... about half a million tenants use Nokē smart entry
  • That's nearly 1,000 sites and nearly 4,000 entry points
  • Well over 100,000 Nokē devices are in the marketplace today
  • Tenants and potential tenants want a digital, contactless experience. They are using smart tech in other aspects of their lives already
  • Many operators get 80% of their rentals via contactless experience
  • Potential renters are using this technology for smart homes, smart apartments, and daily lives

Many factors are driving the increased demand for technology. From Millennials and Gen Z who have never known a life without the internet, women being the key decision-makers in the self-storage industry, and the global pandemic creating a need and showing the efficiencies of going contactless. People want automated access and more and more industries and services are going mobile because of it.

What does a tech-savvy facility look like?

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While some would say the industry's oversaturated with self-storage facilities, tenants are demanding class A and B properties that use technology to heighten the experience and security. Yes, there are many old facilities on just about every corner, but they aren't meeting today's need. From electronic gates to 24/7 access to the property and unit door, there remains high demand for smart facilities. And, it's not just from one demographic. Everyone can benefit from the use of self-storage technology. To learn more about the impact of the internet on the self-storage industry, including benefits, forward-thinking, potential challenges, associated costs, and revenue gains, click here to read a high-level review published on Inside Self Storage

Breaking 3 Common Objections to Implementing Self-Storage Technology: 

Objection 1: "I have a lot of older tenants, or my market is very rural."

Cell phone usage is saturated within the U.S. market. Current estimates place the number of Americans with smartphones at upwards of 85% and that number is only going to increase. Whether you live in a trailer or a mansion, you more than likely have a cell phone. Furthermore, in-depth market research shows that 87% of tenants prefer a smart lock on their unit to a standard padlock. 

Objection 2: "I don't think I can command premiums with the system or get a return on my investment."

Customer feedback and market research support the conclusion that Nokē integrated facilities can command premium rates and support additional revenue stream options through software/technology management fees. Customers are willing to pay for convenience and security! A study by the StoreLocal co-op tracked increases of nearly 71% across their 10'x10' smart unit offerings versus a market average increase of 22% over the same year.

Objection 3: "I've run self-storage facilities for this long and have been successful, there's no need to re-invent the wheel"

All you have to do is look at other industries to see the trend in self-service automation and technology integration taking over the market. Hospitality, airlines, and even gas stations before them have largely become self-service-based industries dominated by cell phone usage. The covid-19 pandemic and the current labor shortages only accelerate the need for automation and self-service within the self-storage industry.

Self-Storage Technology Trends Looking Forward

By implementing an access control solution at your facility that utilizes Bluetooth electronic smart locks on the gate, entry points, and unit doors, you're able to streamline operations while creating a more convenient and secure environment for your tenants. Technology is the present and future of self-storage.

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