How to Use Technology to Retain More Self-Storage Customers

Winning customers is one thing, but keeping those customers around for the long haul is another challenge. This post covers how self-storage facility owners can improve their customer relationship management by offering various conveniences. 


For starters, modern-day society appreciates easy and safe payment methods. Checks and large cash transactions are no longer as popular as they once were. Most consumers are tech-driven and desire quick clicks to accomplish the most sophisticated tasks. 

For example, if a tenant finds it too inconvenient to make their monthly payment to your company, they might go elsewhere. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 study, the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, 42% of consumers opted to use a debit card as their payment method. 

However, thanks to digitization and the 2020 global pandemic, digital wallets, and other methods are catching on quickly. No matter what payment option you offer to your customers, they need to be online and tech-enabled

In-App Notifications

Besides online payment methods, consumers frequently wish their customer experience to be hassle-free, interactive — and enjoyable. While websites are still necessary as an online base for your business, mobile apps are swiftly becoming deal-makers and breakers. 

According to Statista, there were 218 billion mobile downloads worldwide in 2020. Tools, communication, and travel are among the most popular apps, to name a few. Naturally, the self-storage industry falls in the category of markets benefitting from in-app purchases and notifications. 

Remember that you don’t have to hire a developer or develop an app yourself to maintain more self-storage customers. Plenty of software exists that you can use to run your business. Not only is this type of software generally easy to use, but it’s an excellent investment in your self-storage company

Online Applications and Reservations

Websites and apps provide user-friendly services, such as tenant screening, applications, and reservations. These options prevent prospects from having to make numerous phone calls, fill out paperwork, and visit your facility in person. Plus, as an owner, you no longer have to upkeep a spacey brick-and-mortar office or mounds of paper files. 

Although not every home in the United States has a reliable internet connection, most individuals in the US have access to an electronic device and internet. Consider that 97% of Americans own a cell phone, while 85% own a smart device. Cafes, colleges, libraries, and more organizations, offer free or budget-friendly internet access. What this means for self-storage facility owners is that online is the place to be.

The Digital Age offers a more cost-effective way to serve your customers. With the right software, your tenants can enjoy the conveniences of in-app services, and you can maintain more self-storage customers. 

How to Manage Pests in a Self-Storage Facility

Every self-storage facility owner understands the damage pests can do to personal belongings. On that same note, prospective clients tend to shop around when searching for the best self-storage facility. Not only do they compare prices, security, and location, but they also look for cleanliness — meaning pest-free. Here are a few tips to help keep pests at bay.

Understand the Risk

No one knows better the harm pests cause than the former tenants of an Armuchee, Georgia self-storage facility. Not only was its sudden closure partially due to damage caused by a barrage of rats, but tenants only had weeks to remove their belongings. 

Unfortunately, pests cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to homes and self-storage facilities alike. Battling these nuisances requires an understanding of why they want to invade buildings in the first place — and then spread the words to tenants.

Educate Tenants 

Pests tend to rely on the vulnerability of paper to fulfill their appetite for destruction. Rats, bugs, and a slew of other annoyances can chew straight through cardboard boxes or paper bags. Using plastic totes helps to ward off pests, especially when storage bins are stacked or up off the floor. 

Additionally, clean cooking items thoroughly and avoid storing any food altogether. Even candles and potpourri can attract pests. But it’s not enough knowing the ins and outs of successful pest-free storage. 

Educating tenants takes effort. Include these tips in the contract. Leave helpful pamphlets in your main office area. Make beneficial information available for your tenants to help their self-storage experience a positive one. 

Hire a Pest Control Professional

If rats, mice, or other varmints make it past your frontlines, it’s time to hire a pest control professional. Keep in mind that not all professionals are created equal, so do your due diligence in hiring one. 

Choose a licensed pest control professional, and be sure they’re bonded and insured. Ask for referrals and use word of mouth to find the best professional for your needs. Aside from confirming their certifications, make sure they know their stuff. Do they answer all your questions in detail? Are they willing to contract for ongoing service? What chemicals or traps do they use?

Remember, all of this information is useful and practical. But keep in mind, the cheapest isn’t always the best. Be willing to get a “guaranteed satisfaction” agreement and expect documentation for the services provided. 

Protecting your self-storage facility from pests is a hefty task. If you don’t call the shots, though, the pests will undoubtedly win this battle. 

How to Recover from a Damaged Professional Reputation

Most businesses experience a dip in their rapport with customers — even top self-storage facilities. It takes strategy to recover from such an extreme hit. Whether your self-storage facility received terrible reviews, dealt with a pest problem, or experienced a costly cyberattack, here’s how to rebound.

Identify the Negative Press 

It’s imperative to identify what damaged your company’s reputation in the first place. Are there a slew of negative reviews on a search engine, such as Google or Bing, drowning out anything positive? Is an unhappy customer spreading negative news about your services on social media? Is a former employee or competitor taking their issues to YouTube? Was there a break-in or other incident?

Once you pinpoint where the negative press is circulating, it’s time to use those same platforms to spread a new message. Instead of going on the defense, consider a more forward-thinking approach to rebuilding your reputation. 

Boost Positive Reviews 

Before you dive into reputation recovery mode, remember that several platforms can boost your self-storage facility rankings online. Consider Pinterest, YouTube, FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name a few popular platforms. Revamping your social media profiles works in tandem with prominent search engines, meaning information crosses over from one another.  

Resolve Issues

First, if a tenant genuinely has an issue with your facility, own up to your company’s failures. Apologize publicly and swiftly. Not only does this display a sense of responsibility, but it shows that you honestly want to fix problems or cracks in your business. Keep in mind that an unhappy customer tells ten people, but a customer with resolved issues tells twice as many. Identify clear and concrete steps that you will take to resolve the problem and prevent it from reoccuring.

Use Content Marketing

Another valuable bonus to the Digital Age is that content marketing is highly influential. You can reach a large audience while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. Perhaps you publish helpful how-to blog posts or offer downloadable checklists for tenants. Regardless of the specific topics you choose to write about, try to view your business from the customer’s point of view. Give them what they need on the platforms they visit. 

Feature Testimonials

Remember to use testimonials to improve your reputation. Not every tenant is out to sink your reputation. Ask current tenants to write positive reviews on search engines and social media platforms. Additionally, feature these testimonials on your website so that prospective tenants can read them. 

Take Customer Cues

Lastly, take your cues from your customers. They already know what they want from your business, so listen intently to their expectations. Be straightforward — ask customers what they want out of your business, and take those suggestions to heart. Don’t forget to reward existing and loyal customers. The bread-and-butter tenants can do wonders for your reputation, so give them a pat on the back now and then. 

Recovering from a damaged reputation is a tall order — but it’s not impossible, and you don’t need to buy your reputation back with false promises. Put in the work, and you’ll boost your reputation in due time.

Alternatives to Traditional Padlocks for Self-Storage Facilities

As a self-storage facility owner, you owe it to your tenants to give them top-notch security. Aside from video surveillance and other reasonable precautions, a clever move is to consider alternatives to traditional padlocks.

Although padlocks are often the go-to security for self-storage, plenty more options are available. New technology and materials mean more protection for site owners. Here’s a look at three high-security locks to replace your padlocks.

Padlock Problems

Only a few external locks offer maximum protection; however, thieves and burglars easily defeat the old linchpin of the padlock regularly. Its pitfall is the schematic pin and tumbler system, making it a cinch to pick the lock. With hundreds of DIY lock-picking tutorials online, it’s only a matter of time before thieves take YouTube videos to heart.  Padlocks are only a deterrent, not a full-proof method of preventing a break-in.

1. Combination Locks 

Combination locks add a layer of protection by coupling the power of the traditional pin-and-tumbler lock and adding a sequence of symbols or numbers. Inputting this sequence is the only way to unlock it. Also, these lock types don’t use keys like padlocks, so no more losing keys.

Remember, combination locks are susceptible to traditional cracking methods — but not many thieves can master that skill. Unfortunately, unless they’re closed-shackle locks, this type can be snipped with bolt-cutters, too. Even though they work in many situations, sometimes you need more protection, so it pays to consider disc locks and electronic locks. 

2. Disc Locks

Disc locks are similar to padlocks but have a more reliable history. They have a short, embedded hasp, making them suitable for self-storage facilities. Plus, bypassing the keyhole is challenging, so potential thieves tend to give up on the endeavor. The locks’ shape makes it nearly impossible for criminals to snip it with a pair of bolt-cutters. They’re often designed with a pin and tumbler keyhole, making them susceptible to bump keys. Using an alternative to the pin and tumbler is essential to ensure security. Thankfully, plenty of disc locks use alternative designs. 

3. Electronic Locks

If you’re looking for ultimate security, consider the electronic lock. It’s unusual to find these locks on self-security units, but they’re trendy on gates or external doors. They’re highly resistant to tampering thieves. Plus, they don’t have keyholes to breach. 

One reason these locks are so effective is that the design removes the traditional lock and key function. Instead, they’re opened with keypads or magnetic swipe cards. This layer of protection makes it incredibly challenging for thieves to breach your tenant’s personal information and beat the lock.

No matter which lock design you choose to use for your external gates and doors, remember that your facility’s security is of utmost importance. 

Self Storage Developers: Equity Partnerships to Launch Projects

Entering the self-storage industry can be an exciting prospect. The chance to develop and build your own facility can lead to a financial windfall but getting started can also bring with it many newfound risks. Getting the most out of your self-storage facility requires the right amount of capital, good locations and industry expertise. All of these things can be difficult for one person to obtain which is why building an equity team can help you mitigate risk by allowing you to team up with expert business partners who can assure the projects optimal success.

Here are a few things to consider when building your equity team.

Why build an equity team?

You usually want to build an equity team when you have a self-storage project but you are lacking the key ingredients to get that project off the ground. For example, you might have a good plot of land, but may lack the capital needed to develop the property or vice versa. Perhaps, you have both the land and the capital to develop the project but you lack the expertise in dealing with municipal building codes.

An equity team adds an infusion of management, financing and expertise to a project you are unable to complete on your own in exchange for split ownership on the project. However, the formation of an equity team should not be taken lightly because working with bad business partners can only hurt your project. Here are a few things you need to think about.

Draft a summary of the property location

If you are looking to build an equity team for your self-storage project, then it is important for everyone on your team to have all the necessary information regarding the location. Bring a summary of the location that tells potential members of your equity team the size of the land, the zoning and the history of the site. The land history should tell team members what the land was originally used for in the past and if there is proper access to utilities. Be honest about the condition of the land and tell reveal and issues that could be prohibitive.

What is the entitlement status?

What do your local municipalities think of your project? Has your project been zoned for self-storage and do you have all the necessary permits to build a self-storage facility? The biggest thing you need to avoid when it comes to entitlements is resistance to your project. If a city or its citizens are against your project it can be almost impossible to get your facility properly zoned.   

Figure out if it is feasible

Make sure you have a feasible project before you and your team begin investing in a self-storage project. Know how much competition is in your area. What is the demand for a self-storage facility and how many self-storage facilities are in your area? Do a feasibility study and learn how much your competition pays in rent, how occupied they are and what it costs to build their facility. Knowing these things will give you a greater sense of the market and allow you to correctly assess your own project.

Create accurate projections and a budget

Make sure you have projections of how you think the project will do month by month by creating a proper profit and loss statement. Create accurate traffic reports so you know how many people come through your area at a given time. Report on each phase of construction so we can accurately asses the cost of the project and when it is projected to be completed.

Most importantly make sure you have good character references for every member of your equity team. You always want to work with people of high integrity. Character references should be with people and organizations your team members have worked with in the past. They should have a good credit history and consistently pay their loans on time. A past lawsuit does not need to be a deal-breaker but a history of lawsuits is a bad sign. Doing your due diligence with the people you are working with is so important in preventing unwanted risk.

Starting a self-storage facility can be a difficult but rewarding process. Building the right equity team around you can ease some of the burdens and mitigate your risk in a hot market. Follow the steps and cover all your bases and you should be on your way to a strong partnership.

Dave Kotter is the Principal of Integrity Capital LLC, a commercial mortgage brokerage in Scottsdale Arizona. Integrity Capital has obtained self-storage financing for clients across the nation. They are an expert in the industry.