Phoenix, AZ. OpenTech Alliance, the leading developer of innovative smart-connected technology solutions for the self storage industry, helped Tennessee-based 24 Hour Self Storage flourish with INSOMNIAC Kiosks since its establishment 6 years ago. Founding partners Nicholas Lillios and DJ Cord, who own and operate various commercial, retail and residential properties, were committed to creating an automated business model before venturing into self storage.
“When we considered warehouse business, the only thing that made it plausible was the idea of using a kiosk to have a totally automated solution,” stated Nicholas Lillios, Partner of 24 Hour Self Storage. “We weren’t interested in sitting there all day long showing units.” With 8 facilities throughout Southern Tennessee and Northeast Georgia, Lillios and Cord began their self storage journey with kiosks in hand. After purchasing a facility that came equipped with an INSOMNIAC Kiosk to serve as a pilot location, the partners quickly grew their business by offering customers an upgraded experience while keeping operating costs staggeringly low. Thanks to the seven INSOMNIAC Kiosks in place at their facilities, Lillios and Cord can easily go several days without the need to visit even one of their locations, and manage local operations with one part-time employee.
24 Hour Self Storage has grown steadily through the use of self-service INSOMNIAC Kiosks and consider it a competitive advantage. “We went with a more upgraded model overall with our storage facilities – a number of things we’re using to compete with the local guys,” stated Lillios. “Kiosks have been a major component of that and allowed us to expand rapidly. We’ve been able to add a few facilities each year. We’ve got one new one about to come online, and we already have our kiosk on order.”
In addition to the enhanced customer experience and reduced operational costs, Lillios called attention to another reason kiosks have been critical to 24 Hour Self Storage’s expansion. “We can keep adding facilities and not have to go shopping for people,” stated Lillios. “People in our area are in very short supply – 2.2% unemployment rate – it’s hard to even find a bad employee, let alone a good employee. It’s nice to not have to search for the right person, and then deal with turnover issues.”
At 7 of their 8 locations, INSOMNIAC Kiosks are the only way for customers to rent a unit – which hasn’t presented a problem for 24 Hour Self Storage. “For the most part, the average consumer is becoming more and more used to using screens,” stated Lillios. “You have to use them at the airport, at McDonald’s, at Walmart. We really don’t have to explain or direct people to it. We found that with our local customer base – it has filled a need – not to interact with people. People are more and more enjoying being able to do things automated with their phone or on a screen.”
The only facility that doesn’t currently utilize a kiosk is the Cleveland boat and RV facility, with an indoor configuration that prevents it from being exclusively unmanned – a fact that displeases the owners’, who love the increased risk protection offered by the kiosk rental process. “One thing we do love is they can agree to their lease right there at the kiosk,” stated Lillios. “It’s really nice when folks are agreeing to the lease right there on their screen. I like that it takes their picture – we’ve got that tracking, know it’s them – it makes us feel comfortable because we know we can track them down if we need to. We want one for Boat and RV – for all of those reasons. If we move to outdoor, we’d absolutely use it.”
For the year to date, 24 Hour Self Storage’s Hopewell location has processed the 3rd most rentals of every active kiosk in the field with 99 rentals, and has also taken 308 payments. In the past year, they collected nearly $78,000 through their kiosks, capturing 247 rentals and 624 payments overall. “It may not be the end all, be all for every storage place,” stated Lillios. “But for us it is.”