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Innovation in Operations? Automated or Contactless?

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  • Innovation in Operations? Automated or Contactless?

    Kind of looking to start a discussion here about the future of facility amenities and operations. Last fall at SSA in Vegas there was a bit of chatter about the future of storage operations going to fully automated or at least contactless (ie contactless renting using bluetooth locks for access to the facility as well as individual units), and it was talked about as if it were still a few years off. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic does it seem that those operation processes will be accelerated and soon become part of the day to day of a facility? Have any of you taken these steps in your own facilities as a response to COVID and look to continue them after? Curious to know what operators/managers thoughts are on this topic.

  • #2
    I want to check into the Janus Noke smart locks. Anyone here use them?
    Joe Krezdorn
    DAK Self Storage
    Leesport, PA 19533
    www.dakselfstorage.com

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dakselfstorage View Post
      I want to check into the Janus Noke smart locks. Anyone here use them?
      One of our sites does, the idea is great, but the integration with our FMS is spotty, at the beginning, a laundry list of issues. Today we seem to be smooth sailing with a few issues here and there. Their biggest issue is that the software / hardware (we went through 4 keypads in less than a year) is that they are so new, give it a year or two and they will probably have everything working right. There is a yearly fee attached to the service VS buying a standalone gate access software like PTI.
      Thanks!

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      • #4
        I would be concerned about not having an onsite staff for maintenance and security, let alone organizing office and customer service issues. Unless you plan on monitoring it remotely? I'll admit I havent read up on the latest technology, as I am a little old fashioned and believe the human element is something you cant replace, so I havent been too interested in the topic. Pros and Cons for sure just in the few things I can think of off the top of my head. Software compatibility, legal issues when it comes to evictions or auctions, security, daily maintenance and janitorial. Wondering if hardcopies are kept or is it all digital? Glitches when updates occur that can cause all sorts of issues that would cause delays for customers. Im of the mindset if it aint broke dont fix it. Do I like technology that makes my job easier, sure! Do I want technology that will take away my job, NO.
        You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wc1974 View Post
          I would be concerned about not having an onsite staff for maintenance and security, let alone organizing office and customer service issues. Unless you plan on monitoring it remotely? I'll admit I havent read up on the latest technology, as I am a little old fashioned and believe the human element is something you cant replace, so I havent been too interested in the topic. Pros and Cons for sure just in the few things I can think of off the top of my head. Software compatibility, legal issues when it comes to evictions or auctions, security, daily maintenance and janitorial. Wondering if hardcopies are kept or is it all digital? Glitches when updates occur that can cause all sorts of issues that would cause delays for customers. Im of the mindset if it aint broke dont fix it. Do I like technology that makes my job easier, sure! Do I want technology that will take away my job, NO.
          Great reply WC, and I think that in most cases "unmanned" is a bit of a misnomer. You'll still want someone to go by the facility at least once a week for maintenance and cleaning and in most times it will be more than that for various other reasons. Not that (besides maintenance) unmanned facilities aren't great in very specific situations, but I agree with you though, that the human element is still integral in storage. I think more of what Isaac was talking about is in the direction of automation that is geared towards complimenting a manager and making the rental process easier for the business and the tenants. If you don't mind, I'll be happy to address each of these concerns:

          Software compatibility: You're right that there is no software that is going to be compatible with ALL of the storage partners around, but the bigger named management software companies really do try to stay as current as possible and offer at least one option in each field. Some software companies still can't even take the pin and chip cards after 5 years and still rely on swiping so I understand what you mean though.

          Legal issues when it comes to evictions or auctions: A really great point, but a lot of the providers are wise to this as well. Companies that specifically deal in lien services like StorageAuctions.com even have state guarantees. I remember an article back in June where they started with their Timeline Guarantee that I thought was amazing and specifically addresses these concerns. Other notable technology concerns could be registered email vs. certified mail, but registered email is legally recognized in most states (if not all by now), and is really a great resource to try.

          Security and hard copies: I think this kind of went hand-in-hand so I wanted to address both, but cloud data security vs. local data is better in almost every way (depending on who's hosting your data). In most cases, the cloud providers use multiple databases and back up on multiple servers using a method called redundancy in case of data corruption or disaster happens at one location. Compared to storing locally which is could be damaged or stolen, cloud data storage is MUCH safer.

          Bottom line, I really don't like to think of technology advancements as something that's trying to replace the managers. In most cases, it's the manager's expertise and customer relationships that make a business really shine in their area and in a lot of cases, losing that would be detrimental to a business. Technology and automation are just there to lend a hand to make your job easier and to elevate the customer experience for your tenants.

          Anyways, sorry for the long response but I hope some of this helped shine some light from my perspective at least.
          Kevin Kerr
          Storage Commander Cloud Software
          k[email protected]
          Direct - 951.867.4732

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kevin SC View Post



            ..............Anyways, sorry for the long response but I hope some of this helped shine some light from my perspective at least.
            I appreciate all the information. The company I work for is just now looking at online auctions and we just hired an answering service so as not to miss any calls during the COVID closures. I would say we are middle of the road when it comes to technology in the office, in our software systems.NOt the latest or greatest but not outdated either. It functions well, but has it quirks. I dont see us moving forward with any kiosks or automated features anytime soon but you never know! We just acquired our 23rd storage property so who knows? Maybe as they grow they will look at ways to reduce costs and improve sales.
            You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by wc1974 View Post

              I appreciate all the information. The company I work for is just now looking at online auctions and we just hired an answering service so as not to miss any calls during the COVID closures. I would say we are middle of the road when it comes to technology in the office, in our software systems.NOt the latest or greatest but not outdated either. It functions well, but has it quirks. I dont see us moving forward with any kiosks or automated features anytime soon but you never know! We just acquired our 23rd storage property so who knows? Maybe as they grow they will look at ways to reduce costs and improve sales.
              I wish they would go paperless. That would be fantastic.
              Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

              WA State

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KrisinWA View Post

                I wish they would go paperless. That would be fantastic.
                Right? Pope Resources stock would go down if we stopped using all their paper!
                You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KrisinWA View Post

                  I wish they would go paperless. That would be fantastic.
                  I agree that going paperless is a really great part of technology advancements. From the rental leases, to late notices, lien letters, etc., it's a great way to reduce costs, provide convenient communication to your tenants (I have all my bills paperless), and reduces your business's carbon footprint.
                  Kevin Kerr
                  Storage Commander Cloud Software
                  k[email protected]
                  Direct - 951.867.4732

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We are automated and contactless and our future facilities will be the same way. Let me start off by saying we run a 100 unit facility. When we first bought it I was there daily with open, come in signs, etc. Only 2 people stopped in over a few weeks. I couldn't justify sitting there all day with anything to do. The majority of our rentals come in between 6 pm and 9 pm. Our leases are sent through DocuSign and digitally stored.

                    DaVinci locks have been a real lifesaver for us as we can prep units to move in and keep them secured until the new tenants move in. We push our tenants to use the online platform to manage their accounts. We use an online auction company, and honestly, that's my wife's department. All I do is cut the lock and take pics. I still make it a point to swing by the property every two weeks at a minimum. We monitor the place remotely through an app.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kevin SC View Post

                      I agree that going paperless is a really great part of technology advancements. From the rental leases, to late notices, lien letters, etc., it's a great way to reduce costs, provide convenient communication to your tenants (I have all my bills paperless), and reduces your business's carbon footprint.
                      My first facility went paperless (well, the management company, which had something like 22 facilities). It was amazing. Everything digital including monthly reports. If the tenant asked, we'd of course print off a contract copy, but we'd only had that 2 times I can remember.
                      Even duct-tape can't fix stupid. But it can muffle the noises.

                      WA State

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We have Noke in various forms at all three locations. One location has had Noke on our climate control since the end of December 2019 and our traditional units just came online at the beginning of July. Second site has it for our climate units and our gate. Last site has it for our gate and our new climate units. A bit of a hiccup at first but have not had any issues. Customers really like the gate access with their smartphone and opening their units with them is a game changer.

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