There is urban legend going around fashioned by some “gurus” trying to promote their books. This legend is that you can supervise an entire self-storage facility from a “kiosk”, essentially a walk-up automated teller like an ATM machine. Even though the thought of having a “robot” handle a self-storage facility is striking from a cost-savings and low management perspective, it is, regrettably, a fantasy with about as much reasonableness as the photon torpedo out of Star Trek.
The reasons you cannot supervise a self-storage facility from a kiosk are plentiful. A kiosk only works if the shopper knows what they’re doing
The reason that ATM machines can function smoothly is that just about one and all knows how to work one. But can you think of what would happen if nobody had used an ATM before. They’d try and put their card in upside down and break it off trying to shove it in. They’d forget to withdraw the cash out on time, and have it sucked back in. In their frustration, they’d beat the machine to a pulp! The kiosk idea for self-storage facilities is just starting out and different, and nobody knows how it works.
Somebody has to handle the kiosk
Just as an ATM machine requires continual, daily management, such as re-stocking it with cash and catering to break-downs, so does any other type of kiosk. Banks have workers on site all day to make the repairs and watch over the kiosk. No kiosk can work in the absence of human involvement.
The idea that you can leave a kiosk unaided and come back periodically and take the money out is ridiculous. Just ask the folks that handle vending machines – something that is incredibly straight forward. They break down constantly!
Kiosks are prone to vandalism
Some people like to smash things. And what is a more eye-catching target than an unsupervised kiosk in an out-of-the-way location? Do you think there is any teen in America who would not have fun with that toy?
Ask the owners of self-service car washes their top 10 stories of vandalism to their equipment.
People want human interaction
Would you hand over your belongings to a self-storage facility that has no human supervision, or even a human to describe the rental system? Well then, who would? There is too much competition out there that provides real, live managers to walk you through the process and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. You might buy a Dr. Pepper without human interaction, but rent a self-storage unit? I don’t think so.
But there is some reality to the tale
There are successful self-storage owners who use kiosks. But they only use them after-hours, when the manager is off-duty. The manager then checks them each morning as he opens up for business. He makes certain they are working and re-loads them with materials. That is what kiosks are for in reality. But never as a substitution for a manager, just an after-hours supplement.