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The kiosks serve as a right hand to on-site employees—covering busy times during business hours and automating operations for walk-in customers after hours.
Many are bilingual and paperless, and offer two-way video consultations with a call center.
Much like ATMs revolutionized the banking industry in the 1980s, self-storage kiosks can offer a competitive boost to self-storage facilities, said Mike Sawyer, marketing director at OpenTech Alliance.
The kiosks are designed to integrate with a facility’s property management software, enabling customers to rent units from inventory and apply a payment in real time.
Kiosks typically are installed at the welcome center or anchored to the ground outside a facility. While it’s true that a facility could become fully automated with a kiosk, it’s not always the best option when trying to meet customers’ varied needs. OpenTech Alliance’s kiosks range in price from $1,500 to $18,000, based on the accessories. For the most expensive model, installation and training costs can run $1,250 for the first year, and monthly maintenance fees average $250. Cost is clearly a drawback because of the large capital outlay, construction costs and electricity, as well as potential tweaks to a facility’s software. Tron Jordheim, director of operations at self-storage call center PhoneSmart, doesn’t have a problem with kiosks, but he encourages his customers to consider another option: mobile technology. Jordheim calls it self-storage pocket kiosk technology, and it’s available through quick read (QR) codes that direct customers to a storage facility’s website. Storage owners can use a number of free online services to create a QR code and program it to take customers to a business’ website. Self-storage facilities should check with their software providers to ensure that whatever is built into their desktop-oriented websites will work with mobile platforms. Sawyer said that outside the regular kiosk business, OpenTech Alliance can build smartphone apps to link customers to self-storage websites. Welcome.The Storage Facilitator is the modern self-storage professional's destination for useful education, intriguing news, diverse expert perspectives, technology updates, and beyond.
Get our free white paperThe Four Pillars of Profitable Self-Storage Management is an in-depth resource that empowers facility owners and managers to get more out of your business and stay ahead. The information contained herein has been obtained from third parties and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. Analyzing Your Phone Data for Profit The Kiosk Advantage: Self-Storage Operators Unravel Fact from Fiction Renting Units Online: Is It For You? Central Self-Storage’s first INSOMNIAC kiosk began taking payments and rentals in June 2006 at its Milpitas, California facility.
Automating the rental and payment process in the self storage business is starting to occur for many self storage owners through the use of computerized rental and payment kiosks.
Self service kiosks operate much like an ATM, they offer consumers the convenience of not entering the store, and they can conduct business when the office is closed. Self storage kiosks are designed to integrate with a facility’s property management software, enabling customers to rent units from inventory and apply a payment in real time.  Self storage facilities typically install their kiosks near the front office door of the self storage facility, are accessible when the office is closed, and under cover to protect the consumer from the weather when using it. Kiosks offer many benefits such as automating or securing your payment process, reducing staffing costs, extending business and access hours, increasing revenues, or making your staffs work load smoother.
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Self-service kiosks burst onto the self-storage scene in late 2003 as the newest way to increase facility profitability. Although most people are familiar with a self-service system of some type, such as an ATM, the benefits and operational impact of kiosks in a self-storage environment is still a gray area for many operators. Self-storage owners nationwide are holding on in this tight economy, but to do so is no small feat.
A subsidiary of Herman and Kittle, Infinite Self Storage is comprised of 23 properties throughout Illinois and Indiana. Self Storage Blog: The Storage Facilitator What does the future hold for self-service kiosks? A new white paper by the industry’s lone kiosk vendor, OpenTech Alliance, maintains that kiosks one day could become as common for storage facilities as ATMs are for banks.
Three in four tenants who rented off-hours chose to complete the rental process at the kiosk. Kiosks provide efficiencies by taking over routine tasks such as payment processing and lease application checks, freeing managers to address more detailed or specialized duties. By sharing the results of its feedback from the 1,200 kiosks it has installed over the past decade, the Phoenix-based company hopes to convince a skeptical industry that kiosks represent the next wave in customer service.
For example, they’ve failed to find traction in the fast-food business, despite attempts by McDonald’s, Subway and other brands to introduce them. Mendelsohn said traffic—or the lack thereof—may prove the biggest obstacle for kiosks in the self-storage industry. Mendelsohn also worries that tablet technology could render kiosks obsolete overnight, in much the same way that Kodak’s kiosks took a hit when photography went digital.
For now, Chiti remains committed to a ground game, winning over operators one at a time until kiosks become the norm rather than the exception.
OpenTech’s self service rental solutions work on tablets, mobile phones, and on-site kiosks.
Self service kiosks may not be for everyone, but look around and see how many businesses are adding them as an option for their customers. Although it may be tempting to accept packages on behalf of your self-storage tenants, experts recommend thinking long and hard before you sign on the dotted line.
If you do decide to accept deliveries, be sure your rental agreement includes a package acceptance addendum. From a legal standpoint, by receiving and holding packages, a self-storage manager creates a “bailment,” and he or she becomes a “bailor.” Bailments are common law agreements, with one party agreeing to hold onto another party’s goods for safekeeping. If you charge fees for accepting deliveries, your duty of care is considered “ordinary,” and thus your liability is higher than if you were to offer the service for free. The tenant provides the delivery company with the code to the lock box; then the delivery man opens the box, removes the key, opens the storage unit and puts package inside the unit. If you have a ton of long-term tenants requesting delivery service, then perhaps you could justify the expense of an automated locker system.


Although receiving deliveries may satisfy many of your tenants, it’s an inherently risky business. Additionally, if you hold a key to your tenant’s storage locker and the tenant claims property has been stolen, you could face a monetary claim and criminal charges. Would package logging software with auto texting and email features for tenants assist with this issue? However, some scale back use of kiosks to three days a week, for example, to continue to offer face-to-face interaction with customers.
Sawyer pointed out that the annual return on investment is more than $50,000 for the top-tier model, based on payroll savings as well as new business generated either through the kiosk or through transferred inquiries to a call center.
Furthermore, some storage facilities, like those in urban areas, benefit more from kiosk foot traffic than ones in rural areas. Most people are familiar with the QR technology, which resembles a large bar code that can be scanned using any smartphone.
They can display the QR code on signs that ask a customer to scan it, enabling them to reserve a unit, pay rent or access an online account. While not every demographic is tech-savvy, this is another option available to reach potential customers.
This white paper identifies major trends and best practices in rate management, occupancy analysis, rental contracts and profit management.
The kiosk was so well received by Central’s customers that Pegasus Group has ordered two more INSOMNIAC kiosks for facilities being built and an additional two for existing facilities. Pegasus Group, through individual ownership structures, currently owns and operates 35 properties throughout the United States including mobile home parks, multi-tenant industrial and office buildings, marinas and self-storage facilities.
They are being used for everything from exhibits and directions, payments, registration, and ticket sales. A newer trend is starting to show demand for the Kiosks inside the self storage facility, near the countertop, which is considered the busiest area in many self storage facilities.
According to a recently published white paper at Inside Self Storage Magazine, the number of rental transactions per facilities that are using Kiosks has improved over the past three years. In just over a year, they have jumped to the top of the shopping list for most facilities, especially those in the planning and construction phases. From its headquarters in Indianapolis, the company operates more than 1.2 million square feet of storage space and more than 6,400 apartment homes in six states.
Instead, kiosks offer consumers the same control over mundane tasks that they enjoy at ATMs and gas pumps, thereby letting facility staff address what a kiosk can’t, such as helping customers with unit sizes and building positive relationships.
Mendelsohn is president of Summit Research Associates, a Rockville, MD-based consulting firm that helps companies assess the need for kiosks. As a one-time West Coast storage operator and a market manager for Shurgard in Europe, he witnessed the power of automation to rent hundreds of units during the busy college season.
Each offers a different user experience and set of features, such as the ability to connect with a Storrage Counselor via two way video, purchase a lock as well as pay with cash and check… something only available with the supporting hardware of a kiosk. This addendum should contain a “hold harmless agreement,” which essentially states that the tenant won’t sue for damages or loss. For example, bailments occur when you drop your car off at a valet, leave your luggage with a hotel concierge or bring your shirts to the dry cleaner. By receiving packages for free, you limit your liability to fraud, willful conduct or gross negligence.
Simply put, you don’t want to be in possession of your tenants’ keys, you don’t want to know the codes to the locks on their units, and you don’t want to handle any of their packages.
The delivery person logs on using a touch screen, deposits the package into the corresponding box, and then the tenant receives delivery notification via email or text. As an example, if a pharmaceutical sales representative’s package goes missing, the loss is reported to the U.S. Even if the criminal charges don’t stick, the tenant still could file an expensive civil claim. The Phoenix company obtained a patent for the kiosk technology 11 years ago, and today nearly 1,000 self-storage facilities have them installed. OpenTech Alliance has introduced a lower-cost compact model for $1,500, called the Insomniac 50, for a facility’s front counter.
The kiosks provide a high level of customer service and convenience by enabling Central Self-Storage customers to rent units, make payments, purchase locks, and update their accounts 24 hours a day on their own without a manager’s assistance.
Over eighty percent of its portfolio consists of self-storage facilities that are operated and managed under the national brand name Central Self-Storage®. Its INSOMNIAC line of self-storage kiosks improves customer convenience, reduces operating costs and increases revenues for self-storage facilities. Kiosks range in price from $5,500 to $18,000 and come with a monthly protection plan to ensure the investment you made will be delivering value for many years to come. Industry leaders like AAAAA Rent A Space, Public Storage, SecurCare, Shurgard and Storage Solutions are using kiosks at their sites. First, it’s important to understand not all units are the same, and the following information may not applicable to all kiosks. In a world filled with automation and consumers who want what they want when they want it, Steve Lavery, vice president of property management at Herman and Kittle Properties, knew something had to change to keep business booming. She points out that while about 1.2 million self-service kiosks are operating in North America, they’re far from inevitable for all industries. He views the kiosk’s cost (up to $18,000) and employee training as its biggest remaining hurdles.
Through this method, the transaction is solely between the delivery company and the tenant.
Made by companies such as Kiosk Information Systems, these lockers cost a pretty penny, but they’ll keep the transaction between the delivery company and your tenants. Furthermore, a tenant could complain that a lost or damaged package contained, say, $500,000 worth of jewelry.
Speak with your vendor for answers specific to your particular product.BenefitsKiosks reduce staffing costs while providing customers with increased convenience. The first step was installing four self-service kiosks to allow customers to rent units and make payments on their own schedule.
They allow people to rent storage units 24 hours a day without ever talking to a facility manager.


When those kiosks rented 40 units in the first three months of operation, the management team became believers.
In 2008, the company installed 19 more kiosks and, in 2009, it signed up for a call-center service to take advantage of two key services.
They also help eliminate the need for that extra employee to sit around and wait for prospects to drop by.
First, the call center pushed all calls not answered at a facility to a call-center agent who could give the caller information or make a reservation. Next, the agent directed the customer to the kiosk and walked him through the entire rental process, making the sale complete. The latest developments include a fingerprint scanner, driver’s license reader, signature pad, check reader and digital camera to positively identify new tenants and discourage potential wrongdoing. One manufacturer is integrating its kiosk with the Self Storage Association’s Counter Measures program, providing real-time customer ID verification, credit scoring, bankruptcy screening and criminal-background checks.Frequently Asked QuestionsDoes adding a kiosk to my facility mean I have to allow 24-hour access to my property? Security cameras are in place and management has knowledge of customers accessing units based on gate code. Access codes given to new tenants by the kiosk follow the policies defined in your security system. Regardless of what time of day a customer rents a unit, the code he receives will only work during access hours.I generally keep my empty units locked. How can I allow new tenants to rent units through the kiosk without a manager present to unlock them? On average, the kiosks are generating six sales per month, tripling Lavery’s expectations and providing a clear sign that customers are responding to the technology. Replace the lock on an empty unit with a plastic tab or wire tie a new tenant can remove by himself. With confirmation of results, Infinite eliminated the assistant-manager position from its organizational structure, saving $200,000 annually. Limit the number of units available for rent through the kiosk and leave only those units unlocked.
Install a combination lock on empty units and dispense the combination with the customer’s receipt and rental paperwork. The first is an Internet presence that lets customers know you are open 24 hours, seven days a week. Allow tenants to initiate rentals through the kiosk but require them to meet with a manager during office hours to access their unit for the first time. During the rental process, customers are required to sign their lease using the kiosk’s digital signature pad.
If you are concerned about exposing your facility’s inventory, you can limit the number of units available for rent in each size category. In addition, customized unit types can be defined to restrict tenants to only the type they need, such as a mailbox or wine-storage bin.What does a tenant get at completion of a rental?
They can have the extra amount escrowed for a specified time so the tenant can get his change during office hours, or the overpayment can be applied as a credit to the tenant’s account.How is the kiosk installed? Thru-the-wall enclosures are the most secure and designed to withstand even the harshest weather. They are based on the proven ATM model, with a setback style to protect the components from weather and vandalism. The electronic connections are secure inside the building, eliminating the possibility for any tampering or disconnection of power or data cables.The second enclosure type is freestanding, which is more exposed.
Freestanding enclosures are usually made of thick metal that will not rust or be easily penetrated.
Locks on a freestanding unit have multiple securing points and are recessed in the unit for additional security.
The enclosure should have a minimum of four mounting points at the base to keep it from being tipped over or moved. The cabling is brought through an opening in the bottom to eliminate exposure to weather and vandalism.Some operators have chosen to install a thru-the-wall enclosure in a vestibule with a security camera mounted overhead. This helps protect the kiosk and the tenant using it.Can a kiosk offer special pricing and promotions? Some kiosks allow operators to customize pricing and promotions to be displayed in real-time to prospects.Can tenants make payments with cash, check or credit card? Checks can be collected by the kiosk and later deposited by the manager, or they can be processed online via an ACH transaction. When accepting check payments, it’s very important to validate the check routing and account numbers by electronically scanning the check. Some kiosks can also require a digital signature authorizing the withdrawal, which is valuable in the case of payment disputes.Does the kiosk do anything else?
Some kiosks can dispense merchandise, allowing new tenants to purchase locks or tenant insurance during the rental process.Other Important ConsiderationsSoftware Support. The top kiosks give you a choice of popular software programs, letting you choose which is best for your business and giving you the flexibility to change vendors if you need to later on.Tenant Identification.
From a legal and security standpoint, it’s more important than ever to positively identify tenants and be able to prove they completed your lease agreement. A digital signature pad built into your kiosk will store tenant signatures in your management software.
An integrated fingerprint scanner lends added security and is a powerful criminal deterrent.Security and Vandalism. Using an integrated speakerphone, kiosk users can be automatically connected to a customer-service agent who can answer questions about the rental process or their accounts. Finally, when possible, choose a model with a thru-the-wall enclosure so no one can drive away with it!Curtis Sojka is vice president of marketing for OpenTech Alliance Inc., a developer of self-storage kiosks.
The company’s INSOMNIAC line improves customer convenience, reduces operating costs and increases revenue for self-storage facilities.



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