Coronavirus forced storage businesses to pivot to contactless, will it still be viable in a post-pandemic world?
Contactless self storage features come in many shapes and forms, ranging from kiosks and valet services to integrated site systems. While it was already a growing trend before the global pandemic, the coronavirus outbreak only accelerated the implementation of contactless services within self storage industry. Even without a global health issue, consumers are getting more and more accustomed to extreme convenience and ease. This means doing as little as they need while getting the same service. That said, there are still questions as to whether contactless only boomed during the pandemic, or if it’s here to stay. So let’s look into contactless options; whether they’re viable in a post-pandemic environment, and how to implement them in different sectors of your business.
The pandemic obviously had an effect on consumer habits, but it’s safe to say that contactless storage services are here to stay. We can turn to some data, (drawn from Sparefoot) to back that claim:
Sparefoot is a Austin-based company that provides listings for self storage units. They introduced a ‘contactless’ badge that businesses could place on their listings, needing to offer contactless solutions in rentals, move-ins, and payments to earn the distinction. After introducing this feature, over half of the businesses earned the designation, showing that businesses recognized the potential of offering contactless services long-term. Their data also showed that customers are preferring to do most of their dealings with self storage companies exclusively online. Demand for generic keywords on search engines such as “storage near me” increases year after year, suggesting customers much prefer seeking out services online rather than through phone or physically going to a facility.
Furthermore, Sparefoot’s visitors have increased year after year, and reservations made through their followed that increase. Customers aren’t just looking for services online but are also doing as much of their business online. All this suggests that contactless services won’t be going anywhere, as customers continue to look for and reserve units online as well. Not only do consumers expect a more convenient and streamlined experience anyway, but an increased awareness of hygiene and cleanliness as a result of the pandemic will likely shift them more towards digital solutions.
Implementing contactless solutions for reservations and rentals is actually a lot easier than you might imagine, and it’s beneficial for both you and the customer. You’ll be able to offer a more seamless, and convenient service while reducing the time and cost needed to set up and follow up on reservations.
Contactless rental and reservation options can entail multiple different things. Optimising your web presence is key. The buyer journey starts long before your customer decides to go with your services. Optimize your website for local SEO. You do this by adding it on local listings like Google Maps. Starting a blog filled with advice and know-how that your customers would usually google is always a good idea. Special attention should be given when crafting an easy-to-follow customer journey on your website. When your customers do finally decide to take on your services, having the right technology enables them to pick a unit, get a quote, and sign a lease. All without having to do it face-to-face.
Alternatively, kiosks are also a popular option for contactless rental solutions. Either way, having them both tied to a self storage software shifts every aspect of getting new (and managing current) customers online, contactless and as officiant as possible.
With reservations and rentals out of the way, online payment solutions are another simple way to improve your customer retention and create a cohesive, contactless self storage service. Technology that integrates autopay is ideal for customers who prefer to pay online, but you should also consider being flexible by allowing them to pay with cash. This might take the form of an online payment system or paying at a kiosk that accepts all payment types. You should also ensure that your chosen payment solution can integrate with your management software. This allows you to check payments in real-time, as well as have rent due dates in a single place, with some also letting you send notifications to past-due tenants.
Contactless solutions and automation often go hand in hand, and giving your customers’ site access without needing face-to-face interaction is an increasingly popular service. Going digital and integrating the internet of things (IoT) into your facility can make this much easier. Many self storage software providers allow for randomly generated access codes for tenants, while also letting you have greater control in monitoring site behavior. Look for solutions that offer real-time alerts that let you set custom environments that can include thermostats and various sensors to give you better access to your site for both you and your customers.
Contactless solutions are easily integrated into your current self storage model, and provide your business with a variety of benefits. As we move into a post-pandemic world, contactless services are still here to stay. Hopefully, this has given you valuable insight into how to implement them in your business.