The self-storage industry is an inherently competitive climate with large, midsize, and single-facility operations scrambling for market share. As facilities continue to evolve and focus more on winning more new business through improved customer experience, owners and operators need to adapt quickly to keep up or risk losing business to local competitors. 

Security improvements represent one of the best opportunities for self-storage owners and operators to prepare for a more competitive market environment. Why? Because tenants view security as a top priority when selecting a self-storage facility. They want to know that their choice will ensure the security of their possessions as well as their personal safety. 

But most importantly, security renovations reduce incidents of theft, vandalism, and other crimes — protecting your investment and giving your customers the peace of mind they need and deserve.

Beating the Competition With Better Security

The first step in preparing for a security-focused renovation is to understand the needs, behaviors, and expectations of your existing customers as well as prospective self-storage customers in the local community. 

For example, a majority of self-storage customers (52%) rent units for a year or more. In fact, less than 13% rent units for fewer than three months. So, leveraging security renovations to acquire and keep new customers can have significant revenue benefits — but only if you can continue to meet your customers’ security expectations relative to other self-storage providers in the local market.

Although specific renovations vary based on the current state of your facility and local market, customers expect market leaders to offer several key security features. 

Evaluate or Install an Updated Access Control System

Unsecured facilities are quickly becoming a thing of the past — they simply don’t offer the level of security today’s tenants require from storage facilities. Instead, tenants expect to see a secured facility with updated gates, doors, and security features (like keypads).

The good news is that quality keypads are extremely durable and remain serviceable for an extended time. But if your facility currently lacks keypads as part of a fully integrated access control system (or has outdated or no keypads at all), it’s time to evaluate your layout and install keypads at key access points across your facility.

To boost the appeal of your facility to modern tenants, consider installing an access control system with an integrated mobile app. Tenant facing access control apps enable tenants to open gates and doors from their mobile devices, creating a convenient experience that differentiates leading facilities from local competitors.

Install Door Level Security

Gates, keypads, and fencing are all great ways to secure your entire facility, but upgraded door security shows that you take individualized security seriously as well. This individual unit security typically takes the form of door alarms and wireless smart locks.

Door Alarms (Sarah can you plug in a paragraph here please?)

When it comes to locks, electronic smart locks represent the gold standard in security. Completely wireless, these locking mechanisms integrate with your operation’s access control platform and mobile app, to provide a second layer of security to a traditional tenant lock. The smart lock will automatically disengage when a valid entry code or mobile key is used to access the facility and re-engage upon the tenant’s exit providing them a seamless experience.

Given the important role individual unit security plays in the protection of individual tenants’ belongings, you can’t afford to cut corners. A single incident of theft or vandalism can destroy your local reputation, so it pays to invest in quality for every unit in your facility.

Embrace Security Technology

Today’s consumers rely on technology to perform a variety of everyday activities, from professional networking to stocking their refrigerators with groceries. In fact, many consumers now use mobile and IoT technology solutions to monitor and secure their cars and homes. Not surprisingly, they expect businesses they interact with to make similar use of technology.

More and more self-storage operators are embracing security-based technologies, raising the bar for self-storage facilities in local and regional markets. A first-rate access control system establishes the baseline for enhanced security technology. If you have the right platform, you can make better use of existing devices and develop a technology environment that improves efficiency as well as security monitoring and response times.

With an access control platform in place, you can expand your technology ecosystem to create a smart connected facility — a facility that uses IoT, analytics and other technologies to continuously monitor, report, and record security events. Nearly every security feature is a potential candidate for inclusion in your facility’s connected network.

Upgrade Cameras and Lighting

Cameras and lighting in exterior and interior areas of your facility show tenants how seriously you take their personal safety and the security of their possessions. Just as importantly, these improvements can help protect your investment by actively deterring would-be thieves and vandals.

The most successful self-storage security operations leverage cameras outfitted with IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Using advanced video analytics, these cameras integrate with your operation’s access control system to create a smart connected facility that automatically detects events, identifies threats, and notifies the owner and/or authorities if action is required.

Good lighting is similarly important for deterring crime and preventing injuries. No one wants to enter a poorly lit facility — it’s creepy and potentially dangerous. LED lights offer a cost-effective solution for improving visibility. Even better, LED lighting fixtures often include motion sensors that further reduce utility costs and allow cameras to capture high-quality images of security threats.

Reinforce Gates and Perimeter Security

Convenient gate access and robust perimeter fencing are some of the most visible renovations you can make. They create a strong first impression and amplify the appeal of your facility to area renters, making it easier for them to trust you with their possessions. 

But site access and perimeter security improvements involve more than just selecting the right hardware. Most leading operations will consult with an experienced Installer/Integrator to ensure that they’re making the right choices during an upgrade or renovation.

Getting Started

A major renovation is always a daunting task. In some ways, security renovations can feel even more daunting because they involve multiple projects and improvements to several exterior and interior areas of your facility.

Here are a few final tips to help get your project off the ground:

  • Evaluate the competition. Identify competitors within a five- to 10-mile radius and run comparisons against existing security features in your facility.
  • Develop a budget. Get estimates for key security improvements and create a budget to determine the actual cost of your renovation.
  • Prioritize improvements. Rank specific security improvements and prioritize those that hold the most promise for improving security and creating a competitive advantage.

Ultimately, everyone benefits from a carefully planned security overhaul. Your customers receive peace of mind and your operation gains a competitive edge. But you shouldn’t view security improvements as a one-time project. You’ll need to periodically re-evaluate your facility’s security and make adjustments to consistently stay one step ahead of the competition. If you need assistance reviewing the effectiveness of your current access control system or would like to initiate security improvements, contact a PTI Representative today.