Picture a storage facility in which renters can lock and unlock their units using an app. The renter can still unlock the unit using a key, but the app would provide the user with the following advantages:
- Ability to unlock the unit remotely
- Ability to delegate access to a family member or a friend
- Historical record of every time the unit was opened
I have the following questions for owners of storage facilities:
- Do you think that the above points would add value to your facility? Would you consider this product?
- Would you pay around $10 - $30 per electronic lock + installation? If so, what's a reasonable price point for you?
- Would you pay around $1.5 - $3 subscription fee per month per lock? If so, what's a reasonable price point for you?
- Do you currently have electricity and internet access at your facility?
All answers are very much appreciated. Also, if anyone's interested in further discussing this concept with me, please reach out. My background is in electronics and software, so I plan on making this happen if there's a decent market for it.
I am hesitant. Issue I’m having with these locks are that some are battery powered. When the battery dies or weakens, the lock may not work. You could get locked out and while I’m sure there’s a way to bypass, it still would be an issue for customers. If a customer is confused or experiences issues then you can expect more calls loss of time or in some cases money. I would conduct a survey of what customers appreciate the most and then go after that. That takes the guesswork out of what it takes to provide the greatest service and the greatest value. And then you ask yourself what would a customer pay for this feature that provides greater value to their lives. Consider reverse engineering.
Fawzi, this is definitely a great concept as the industry becomes more automated and less reliant on Property Managers. I know that Noke and PTI have automated locking and unlocking systems. I believe that their systems are more expensive then $10 - $30 a latch but I haven’t priced it for awhile. You could offset the cost of the locking system if it meant that you could reduce onsite management expense and could charge a little more on a per rents basis.
It’s a great concept and as the cost continues to come down, I think that this technology will be added to existing and new facilities. It sounds like you might have a lower cost option?
Congrats on the concept and ingenuity. The only concern would be battery life and replacement along with cost. Maybe solar powered? Great innovators don't give up on data driven concepts. Still looking for my first storage facility and wanting to be fully automated, so I would look at a product like this. All the best!!
If you only have a few units then it may not be a bad investment. Although $10-30 seems very cheap, I’d dig further into that. Also the WiFi is going to be an issue if you have a lot of units and getting WiFi to all those locks. What if it goes down and your tenants are so used to not using a key?
What @Kevin Bledsoe said above. Noke/Janus and PTI are already doing this at scale.
Thanks everyone for your responses, they're really helpful.
@Kevin Bledsoe , you're right, the idea is to reduce the management headache and cost. I don't have a lower cost option yet, but I'm exploring this space. I've developed similar products in the past and at the moment I'm trying to see if such a solution would solve an actual pain point. I'd consider selling the hardware at a loss (or even give it out for free), because the revenue model would be based on a per-door low subscription fee.
@John Culotta , I agree, battery life is definitely one of the main hurdles with this solution. I would much rather have the lock hardwired the unit's electricity, but my understanding is that the majority of storage units don't have electricity to begin with. Anyway, I do think that there might be a creative way to overcome this.
@Marc Rice , yeah I realized that it's a bad idea to have the locks themselves connected to the internet. Instead I'm thinking of having the locks offline but with a known digital key/signature which the tenant will have access to through their device. Unlocking the lock could be done through Bluetooth or perhaps NFC (similar to Apple Pay). I'm still cooking this part of the idea, but I don't think it'll be a huge challenge.
@Fawzi Mudawwar , I think it's a great idea, and as a Realtor, understanding the capabilities of Supra Key, this makes total sense. If I implemented something like this in my storage business, I would be sure to have in writing to each tenant to ALWAYS have their physical key on hand in case the system is down for any reason and they have to manually unlock their unit. I think the monthly subscription fee could be charged back to the tenant, and I only have 24 units at this time, but if I had a really large facility, or multiple facilities, I would just start implementing the system little by little to offset the costs over time most likely. We are not large enough to have on site management, so this would be amazing. Apparently from other comments, there are other companies doing this at scale, but a little competition for those companies is always good!