5 Ways Cloud Technology Helps Self-Storage Owners
Cloud computing technology, which allows users to access and transfer data securely over the internet, is everywhere we go. It is the backbone of remote work. It allows us to back-up thousands of photos from our cellphones, so we don’t have to worry about losing precious memories. It is truly a technology that we all use every day. Prior to cloud technology, data remained locked on-site behind companies’ servers and firewalls. Even communication between computers at the same location was slow. Remember the days of dial-up internet? It was much faster to walk across the hall and hand your colleague the files they needed than it was to send an email! Moreover, all software updates were performed manually. It was easy to fall behind on updates and lose valuable data in the process.
According to researchers at MIT, the term cloud computing can be traced back as early as 1996. However, the term didn’t start to gain popularity until 2006, when Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google at the time, used the term at a conference. From there, tech companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Dell, and many more began competing to see who would advance the online-data sharing technology fast enough.
Cloud Computing in Self-Storage
But what does cloud computing have to do with self-storage? In the self-storage industry, cloud computing is the critical infrastructure supporting secure property management and access control systems. Below are some scenarios where a cloud-based access control system elevates your business operations.
1) The Cloud Lowers Hardware Costs
A cloud-based access control system significantly lowers hardware costs by minimizing on-site hardware requirements and IT costs associated with traditional system management and upgrades. Small and medium-sized businesses report that it’s 40% more cost-efficient to use third-party cloud platforms than it is to use a non-cloud-based solution. You don’t have to spend time monitoring system updates because cloud-based solutions update themselves with no interruption in business operations. Cloud-based solutions will also auto-backup files, so there isn’t any data loss during the update process. These data backups are also valuable if the system goes offline – the fail-safe is in place so that you don’t have to deny tenants access to the site or pause business operations if you lose internet.
2) The Cloud Enables Remote Management
A cloud-based access control system allows store owners and operators to monitor sites and lock storage units with one click from an off-site location. If vandals or unauthorized tenants attempt to access the site, the system will notify the managers in real time and enable them to lock down the property if needed.
Moreover, the technology enables site managers to oversee multiple facilities. Owners can employ fewer people to manage their portfolios. A cloud-based solution gives owners and operators excellent visibility into the facility’s operations without requiring a daily site visit.
Bonus Benefit: Adapt to Staffing Constraints
Given the state of the job market, many storage operators are looking at cloud technology to solve their staffing constraints. On the GabFocus Self-Storage Podcast, owners and operators expressed that they were considering a remote or hybrid-based management model because they struggled to find and retain the human resources necessary for a manned facility in 2022 (see “2022 Year in Review” episode). A cloud-based access control system allows you to use limited resources efficiently and even offers flexibility to prospective employees who may not be at a storage site all the time.
3) The Cloud Equips You to Scale
Having a cloud-based access control system allows your operation to scale quickly. Adding components and users to the cloud ecosystem is an easy process. Moreover, every security device, from your keypads to your door security devices, can integrate with a cloud-based access control platform so that every component communicates in real-time. The system will also integrate with your property management software. These features, combined with the ability to monitor multiple sites on one platform, allow your operation to scale without worrying about capacity issues.
4) The Cloud Elevates Customer Experience
A cloud-based access control system will also elevate your customer experience. Cloud technology is the backbone of mobile app access that tenants have come to expect many facets of our daily routines demand mobile access; from banking to shopping to entertainment, we want an app for everything! Tenants can pay their rent easily through a mobile app because cloud technology integrates the app with your site’s property management software. Providing a convenient, frictionless payment method through a mobile app also lowers delinquency rates.
Additionally, cloud technology drives real-time notification capabilities within your access control platform. Let’s say a vandal attempts to access a storage unit. The operator, as well as the tenant, can receive push notifications to the mobile app because the access control platform communicates with the app. The operator can choose to lock down the site with one click and notify the authorities. Then, the operator can apprise the impacted tenants of the situation. The ability to notify impacted parties of security concerns in-real time provides tenants the peace of mind that all security concerns will be dealt with swiftly.
5) The Cloud Supports Data-Driven Decisions
Lastly, a cloud-based access control system will provide your storage operation with data you can use to drive actionable insights. You’ll be able to see metrics such as when your tenants are on-site, which will help your team make informed decisions regarding staffing and site access hours. You can determine if there are certain months where you see an uptick in payment delinquencies. You can easily identify if a particular piece of equipment malfunctions, indicating a time for maintenance work or potential hardware replacement. The most advanced access control platforms allow owners and operators to track any action or KPI they need so they can make informed business decisions and become more efficient.