Are Smart Storage Units Right for Retrofits?

Self storage facilities have come a long way in the past 30 years. If your outdated facility is competing against a new state-of-the-art build across the road, there’s no question of who is going to win more tenants. 

Upgrading your self storage facility with the latest technology could be the perfect solution!

You don’t have to completely rebuild your facility from scratch and spend millions to give tenants the high-tech, convenient storage experience they want. A secure retrofit solution is here with the Nokē Smart Entry system – no cables or door replacements required, this external electronic smart lock can be retrofitted to both roller and swing doors, making them the ideal retrofit solution.

When you’re renovating or redeveloping a storage facility, you’re faced with a lot of decisions – and whether to implement smart storage units and access control technology or not is one of the biggest you’ll make. Let’s dive into the key considerations.

How to determine if smart storage units are right for your retrofit project

  • Assess your market
  • Know your target customer
  • Crunch the numbers
  • Evaluate your facility layout

Assess your market

If you’re redeveloping your self storage facility or converting a warehouse or pre-existing building into self storage, hopefully you’ve already done this. But if not, it’s time to conduct a market analysis.

Self storage market analysis are often performed by self storage real estate companies as part of their valuation and appraisal services. And there are many great articles out there on how to conduct a mini-demand study on your own. If you haven’t had one done for your facility’s market in the last ten years, it’s time to do it again.

Why? Because the community around your business may likely be rapidly changing – and you need your facility to reflect these changes in demand.

Once you have a better grasp on the demographics, competitors, and business/population growth projections within your radius (typically, three miles in self storage), you can better plan for the necessary redesign and retrofit steps you need to take for your self storage business.

Know your target customer

If you’ve already done your market analysis, then you know the important demographics of consumers in your community, such as:

  • Population size
  • Population growth rate/estimates
  • Age
  • Average household size
  • Home ownership (type of residence, home size, home price, etc.)
  • House and apartment rental stats (length of rental, cost of rent, size, etc.)
  • Education
  • Average household income

If you’ve already been in business for years, consider how these demographics factor in with the customers you see walk through the door every day. Are you currently bringing in tenants that match your community’s current demographics? And does your post-renovation target customer line up with your community’s future demographics?

Use what you’ve learned from your analysis to create some current and future customer personas.

But first – do your research to challenge any preconceived stereotypes you might have.

If your target customer cares most about convenience (hint: they almost all do), you’ll also want to strongly consider incorporating a smart entry system into your facility redesign. Nothing is more convenient than being able to access everything at your facility (down to the unit!) from your smartphone. With smart entry, they can also pay their bill online, share their unit key digitally, and check the status of their unit – right from their smartphone app.

Once you better understand your target customer, you can assess their level of comfort with technology and what they expect in terms of mobile and online convenience, and apply it to your self storage renovation.

Crunch the numbers

Is it worth the cost? That’s the burning question behind every facility redevelopment project.

Your facility retrofit has to help your business keep up to date with your competition, or else you won’t be able to increase rates and stay profitable. Or worse, you may even have to lower rates.

There’s a lot at stake. You’ll need to make your renovation budget stretch as far as possible, and to do that, you may need to take a look at adjusting your business model.

What does that mean? For example, if the competition is offering an automated self storage and you’re losing customers, you may need to add technology automation, and adjust your business model – maybe by adjusting manager hours or tightening your rate increase schedule – to account for the new cost of technology. Smart entry systems can help managers save lots of time on day-to-day tasks such as overlocking or vacant unit lock removal. To account for the new tech, manager roles may need to be adjusted to focus more on customer service, marketing, and phone call follow-up.

When it comes to smart entry systems, storage owners can charge a premium rate to accelerate ROI.

In addition, facilities that have smart entry systems can choose to charge smart storage renters a “technology charge” to accelerate ROI.

In fact, you’ll likely find that your tenants are happy to pay a little extra for the added peace of mind of an ultra-secure, thermal motion sensor-enabled smart storage unit.

If you’re conducting a major upgrade at your facility, you’ll likely be raising rent for all tenants anyway. After all, aren’t premium rates the whole reason you want to retrofit your facility in the first place?

Evaluate your facility layout

When deciding on upgrades to consider as part of your retrofit project, you’ll need to consider the layout of your facility.

Without bulldozing your existing building, an empty warehouse renovation simply has more options than a traditional property redesign.

But what about traditional facility renovations?

If your facility is traditional in layout, it doesn’t mean you can’t offer smart entry solutions for your tenants.

In fact, the Nokē Smart Entry system is designed for traditional facilities or operators who are looking to upgrade the tenant experience and give their property a fast upgrade without ripping everything up and starting over.

Your facility layout shouldn’t stop you from implementing a smart entry system – it’ll just affect how you do it.

With modern, smart entry technology, you can retrofit your storage property to compete with the REITs, win more tenants, and boost revenue.

Download Now: Nokē Smart Entry Brochure

To find out more about the Janus International range of self storage and access control solutions, please get in touch on: or +61 (07) 3865 1600.

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