Anyone out there who has kiosk, I have a few last minute pertinent questions before my DM makes his decision. (John, I posted a visitor's msg this morning to you if you have time to respond).
The dilemma, is a run-down facility that was purchased 3 weeks ago, wasn't run properly....manager lived in a storage unit. Gate code was the same for everyone....office was in a storage shed (believe it or not). Located in a not so great area of town, but has potential with nearby new aparment complex.
Property is being re-vamped with new office & bathroom facilities! Storage shed/office will be dismantled when new office finished. The DM wants to get a kiosk at this location until occupancy rate rises to 60% (which will take a while to get there). The kiosk will replace a manager, with only a part-time person being there on Saturdays. The feature that I see as a plus is the Spanish option on the kiosk. But I'm not sure that many tenants in that area will be technologically savy enough to operate the kiosk.....I can see payments being made---possibly----but many pay by cash. I'm not sure even I would put cash in an unattended machine! I am going to be the call person for questions with the kiosk (if they decide to purchase it), but I will be on the other side of town from the facility-at my facility
Would love some feedback from someone with kiosk knowledge/storage experience....is this a good idea to have a kiosk instead of a manager at a location as described above?
We have a competitor down the road who opened up about 2 years ago as a kiosk only facility. Since their opening they have had 2 break ins. Also after all of this time, they are only at 40% occupancy. I have always thought it would make sense to have a kiosk, thus reducing your need to hire extra employees, saving tax dollars, workers comp, unemployement etc. Also they would be nice for after hours and days that you are closed and vacations. But I have always thought you should have a manager that SHOWS each tenant at move in how the kiosk works. A kiosk does not explain site rules, give customer service or sell the value of a facility. I think a combination of management and kiosk together makes a lot of sense. Maybe your new site should have someone there during the beginning to oversee and educate folks as to how the kiosk works, and then gradually be there less and less. The money that a facility would lose by not having someone on site, far outweighs the money saved by only having a kiosk. Just my thoughts!! Keep us posted!!
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you'd better put up a big sign that says "Late Overlocks are only removed once per week" because the kiosk doesn't remove late locks when delinquent customers pay.
Also, I don't know if you'd only want to reconcile payments made at the kiosk with your storage software once per week. The kiosk accepts partial payments in cash, even if you don't want it too. It does not post the partial payments to the tenant's account, but it will take the cash.
I would not want to be the on-call person for a kiosk on the other side of town. We have the same problem with tenants not being technologically competent enough to operate the kiosk. We have been eating dinner upstairs at night and had customers hollering up at our living room window saying "Hey I can't get this machine to take my money", when all they had to do was turn the credit card the other way in the swiper.
I assume you are going to leave all vacant units unlocked? or how is a new rental going to access their unit if someone only comes to the facility once per week? Good Luck with that one....we tried it and found several disasters in unlocked vacant units!
I run two small facilities 1200 miles apart and what I like to do is forward the phones over to the other facility, when it's slow like next week. And you can do everything but take cash and remove locks over the phone. We've been leaving our units tagged and it's worked good so far. You can also use combination locks. However, since Pat is close by, High Point isn't that big they could probably be removed daily or as needed.
OK. Kiosk security first. Depends on which Insomniac you are looking at. Mine is the 900, mounted through the wall of a concrete block building. The 900 is basically a big metal box that slides through the hole in the wall and then has brackets installed on the inside. I would say it is at least as challenging to remove as someone trying to grab an ATM from a convenience store. Put it in a well-lit area, point a camera at it. Hook it up to your building's alarm system and put an alarm sticker on the front panel of the box. If you're getting a free-standing unit, you're going to have to look at some barriers to keep people from thinking about messing with it.
Spanish is a plus. I'm in a heavily Spanish-speaking area. That said, most of the kiosk interactions are still in English.
The kiosk has a callbox that can be forwarded to call a remote manager's (or call center's) phone. The monitoring software allows you to observe what someone is doing at the kiosk screen, although you can't manipulate it or "take control" for the tenant.
Cash-wise, you should be able to tell either from your tenant management system, or from the kiosk's cash report, when there is some (or a lot) of cash in the kiosk to be attended to. You can either then make the trip to deal with it, or if you have a daily "drop by" person that you trust with the keys, have them pick it up and make a bank run...the kiosk will account for how much cash it accepted, which you can compare to the deposit report.
I have had many tenants who were proud that they didn't have an e-mail address. Fewer and fewer of my kiosk transactions are cash or check. Vast majority are credit/debit card.
Oh, and this is a feature I haven't taken advantage of yet. You can place 1-3 instructional videos on the kiosk, so if you want to shoot a video of how to use the kiosk, or how to operate your gate, or how to unlatch your doors, you can do that and get it to play from the kiosk.
P.S. Wasn't clear from your post about whether the visitor's message was here on the site or if you sent me one from my website. Apologies for not seeing it.
Thanks everyone who responded....there's so much to take into consideration with this and I appreciate everyone's response. John, I left msg on this site...but I'm so new to this site...I hope I did it right! I spoke to my DM tonight and he's considering putting the kiosk on hold right now. Decisions are difficult to make due to not having much of a history to go on for this location. I sincerely appreciate everyone's feedback!
I am the president of OpenTech Alliance, makers of the INSOMNIAC kiosk. We have many very successful customers using our kiosks some with resident managers, off-site managers, part-time managers, remote managers (simlar to your situation). Each model is a bit different and has differences in how the property is operated. We can put you in touch with several operators that have been successfully operating with a kiosk in a modl such as yours for several years. If you are interested please contact Mike Connolly at 631 451 7211 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I am sure you will find real value in speaking with a manager that has already done it successfully.
In addition there a few new remote management features you should be aware of that have not been mentioned here.
1. Remote Control - When you get a call from a customer at the kiosk you can login to the kiosk remotely using a free software product called VNC. With this tool (which our tech support team will help you get installed) you can see the actual kiosk screen and control it from your facility across town. This means your customers at the remote facility will get a live person to assist them when and if they need it. Yes not all people are comfortable with computers, but every day there are less and less of them.
2. Cash payments - I am not sure why you would be concerned about putting cash in a machine, people have been doing if for years to buy things. Companies like Verizon have kiosks in al their stores and they require customers to use them instead of taking payments at the counter (which turns out to be much faster than waiting in line).
3. Overlocks - part of the daily kiosk process is to review the transaction report of what happened at the kiosk the day or night before. It will be easy to see when a deliquent customer makes a payment and then you can slip over and unlock their unit so they can get in the next day. The inconvience of having to wait a day to get in to their unit may make pay promptly next time. You will find with a kiosk customers have no excuses for not paying and it always collects a late fee if you have one. No more having to hear someones sad story so they can try to get you to waive the late fee.
4. I-Tube feature - In the next version of the sofware due out next month each transaction will be recorded including a recording of the screens the customer went through, a recording of the person at the kiosk and the data they entered.
5. Cash payments and reconcilation - per Lisa and John's posts, you can reconcile payments once a day and do not have to go to the site to do this. Each transaction is recorded even if someone fails to make a full payment in cash, so you always know who much cash is in the kiosk.
6. Ease of use - the credit card swiper will accept credit cards swiped in either direction and plays a video showing an example of how to swipe a card. I am hard pressed to think your customers will not know how to swipe a card.
7. Leaving a few units unlocked - Pretty much every customer we have has set up their kiosk to limit the number of available units shown on the kiosk so they only have to leave a few units unlocked or with plastic lock tabs on them. Yes, we have heard stories of people leaving junk in empty unlocked units (however those stories were around before kiosks), but by limiting the number of locked units or using a cheap combination lock you can limit this risk significantly and if you alarms on your units it all but goes away. Again this kind of operational topic would be good to talk to some of our current customers that have automated their facilities.
No more having to hear someones sad story so they can try to get you to waive the late fee.
Yes I love this part! Let them tell their story to Megan at the Kiosk!!!!
The kiosk works great, I'm just not sure that once a week visit to the property would be sufficient....though I guess that would depend on how busy a property it is, how many delinquent tenants you have each month, and how many rentals you get per day. But that is something you can adjust as time goes by.