The Future For Self-Service in Self-Storage

By | July 24, 2014

Future for Self-Service in Self-Storage

Nice blog by Jay McDonald on self-service in self-storage which highlights new whitepaper in the industry.  OT2014WhitePaper

Key findings from the white paper include:

  • Self-service sales and move-ins have jumped more than 500 percent in the past three years.
  • Customers value the convenience of being able to rent storage units on their own schedule.
  • Kiosk use was evenly split between office hours and non-office hours.
  • Three in four tenants who rented off-hours chose to complete the rental process at the kiosk.
  • Kiosks provide efficiencies by taking over routine tasks such as payment processing and lease application checks, freeing managers to address more detailed or specialized duties.

There are some great metrics in here and hands down it’s the best writeup in a long time.

And surprisingly we have an appearance by Francie Mendelsohn in a bit of the naysayer role.

Francie Mendelsohn

Francie Mendelsohn

But Francie Mendelsohn said that’s only half the story.
Mendelsohn is president of Summit Research Associates, a Rockville, MD-based consulting firm that helps companies assess the need for kiosks. She points out that while about 1.2 million self-service kiosks are operating in North America, they’re far from inevitable for all industries.

For example, they’ve failed to find traction in the fast-food business, despite attempts by McDonald’s, Subway and other brands to introduce them. Kiosks also have met an equally chilly reception in the high-touch world of hospitality.

Mendelsohn said traffic—or the lack thereof—may prove the biggest obstacle for kiosks in the self-storage industry.“Number of users per day, number of users per hour—that’s a pretty solid indicator,” she said. “If you hardly have any, you can’t really justify a kiosk.”

Mendelsohn also  worries that tablet technology could render kiosks obsolete overnight, in much the same way that Kodak’s kiosks took a hit when photography went digital.

“Things do change, sometimes much faster or in ways you just can’t predict,” she said.

The question is whether it makes more sense to automate this process using technology (whether larger kiosk, or tablet, or touch LCD, whatever).

The whitepaper makes a very strong case given the number of transactions both “checking in” and rentals.  Just like in a corrections or outdoors, a tablet is not the best platform, here in this unattended industry something a bit more rugged seems validated.

Recommended…Craig K.

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