The self-storage industry is inherently competitive, 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 amenities and 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 and 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. 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.
1. Evaluate or Install an Updated Access Control System
Unsecured facilities are quickly becoming a thing of the past — they don’t stand up to the requirements of a modern tenant or potential bad. Instead, tenants expect to see a secured facility with well-maintained gates, doors, and security features.
The good news is that quality security hardware is highly durable and remains serviceable for an extended time with essential maintenance. 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 visitors to open gates and doors from their mobile devices, creating a convenient experience differentiating leading facilities from local competitors.
2. Install Upgraded Unit-Level Security
Gates, keypads, anfd fencing are all great ways to secure your entire facility, but upgraded unit security shows that you also take individualized security seriously. This individual unit security typically takes the form of door alarms and wireless smart locks.
Individual door alarms can strengthen your unit security and serve as an effective marketing tool. These alarms can be integrated with your access control software so that you can receive alerts in real-time. These alarms can also be connected to an endless number of devices like lights and sirens as a warning to scare off intruders. These wired and wireless door alarms have been the most widely adopted form of enhanced unit-level security, becoming table stakes for facilities in competitive marketplaces.
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 critical role individual unit security plays in protecting 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.
3. Embrace Security Technology
Today’s consumers rely on technology to perform various everyday activities, from professional networking to stocking their refrigerators with groceries. Many consumers now use technology 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 local and regional markets for self-storage facilities. The challenge comes in retrieving actionable insights from the countless different systems an operator may be engaging with regularly – marketing platforms, property management systems, and access control software.
The future of access control and security will include an integrated platform that makes it easier for anyone from a facility manager to ahead of operations to retrieve intel quickly, take action, and dive deeper into the data as needed. With the right platform, operators can better use existing devices and develop a technology environment that improves efficiency, security monitoring, and response times.
4. Upgrade Cameras and Lighting
Cameras and lighting in exterior and interior areas of your facility are physical representations to visitors of how seriously you take their safety and the security of their possessions. While some self-storage operations manage with standard video surveillance, the most sophisticated operators leverage cameras outfitted with smart-camera software or video monitoring services to help them better identify potential issues before they happen. The software and monitoring service can be configured to automatically alert staff of specified events such as activity in an area off-limits to tenants or after-hours movement, giving operators the ability to focus on revenue-driving activities.
Good lighting is similarly essential for deterring crime and preventing injuries. No one wants to enter a poorly lit facility — it’s frightening 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.
5. 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 proper 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.
A significant update 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.
• Work with a trusted industry expert. Do your research and only work with a trained security expert. Although plenty of providers may have the technical ability to install your security, some lack the skills and experience to deliver the added value you should expect.
Ultimately, everyone benefits from a carefully planned security overhaul. Your customers receive peace of mind, and your operation gains a competitive edge. But it would be best if you didn’t view security improvements as a one-time project; you’ll need to periodically re-evaluate your facility’s security and make adjustments to stay one step ahead of the competition consistently.
Are you ready to take the next steps and implement a security renovation of your own? Reach out to a PTI Security Expert and let us help you get start the process.