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Expert Advice From John Bilton

John Bilton is the Regional Sales Manager West Region, Nokẽ Smart Entry, for Janus International Group, a position he has held since 2018. Previously, he served as senior vice president of Storage of America, where he increased efficiencies in entitlements, sourcing, relationship management and strategy. Prior to joining Storage of America, John was vice president of business development and client services with Centershift Inc., a software service provider for the self-storage Industry and a spin off of Extra Space Storage. Before entering the self-storage industry, he spent 20 years in technology and manufacturing business development in various leadership positions with both private and publicly traded companies that included 3Com, U.S. Robotics and Megahertz. 

Recognizing his rich experience in all things storage and more, Toy Storage Nation is pleased to present John’s valuable insights on the RV and boat industry …

Toy Storage Nation is a big proponent of Class A RV and boat facilities. Why do you think it’s important for facility operators to strive for the highest standards in storage? 

Storage facilities must have high standards to influence tenants for rentals and create a positive image with local jurisdictions.  Poorly managed and junky sites hurt the industry’s reputation, and communities do not want eyesores in their neighborhoods. The perception of a clean, secure and well-managed site can go a long way in creating a positive image for all sites and owners.   

How can an owner/operator save on net operating income using touchless security like Nokē? 

Net operating income (NOI) is key to any storage property valuation. Improving NOI translates into tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars when a cap rate is applied to the NOI.  Managing a site with automation lowers your operating costs, improves customer satisfaction and security.  No longer does a site manager have to walk the property to do overlocks and no longer does the tenant have to wait after a delinquent payment is made to have the overlock manually removed. 

This alone is a huge customer-satisfaction improvement and a site manager time-saver.  Remote opening of unoccupied units is also available, meaning the site manager does not need to be onsite to show a unit to a prospective tenant. They can remotely open the unoccupied unit as well as see if the prospective tenant locked the unit before leaving the property.  All of these time-saving features allow managers to focus on higher level tasks like renting units, following up on leads and marketing the property.   

What kind of data-mining can owners/operators use to run their facilities when they have installed Nokē at their facilities

The activity data for all tenants and non-tenants is tracked, giving the owner incredibly useful insight into what is happening at their property.  Data provided can help determine onsite operating hours, site-management hours and access control (digital keys) by tenant type (commercial or residential). With digital keys they always know who is on the property and when. This negates the historical challenge created when codes were shared, but the owner didn’t know who received that code. This innovation increases security and provides an activity log for the leased tenant. How often a tenant accesses their unit (usage data) can help determine rate increases–both the amount and the frequency of those increases.  

What are the security advantages of using Nokē?

The Nokē Smart Lock knows who an authorized user is and who is not. Thus, it unlocks only for those authorized, the tenant or a digital key-share authorized by the tenant. An additional benefit for the tenant is the activity log: The tenant can see when and by whom their unit is accessed, including site management. Coupled with this is a thermal sensor inside of each unit. This sensor will send an email, text or push notification in the event of an unauthorized entry.  

What are your thoughts on contactless rents for operations–pros and cons? 

We have all entered into the digital age, so should storage. Over half of all tenants are now digital natives: We expect to order our food, get our Uber, shop and book our travel on a mobile device.  Why not rent our storage unit? 

This is what people want in today’s marketplace. A Janus survey asked 25,000 tenants their preferred method and the vast majority wanted to use their smartphone. The biggest con I hear from a few owners is, “I want to meet my customers and shake their hand, making sure I want to rent to them.”  I have asked each of them how many renters have they ever turned down?  The answer is usually none. 

What should an operator expect to spend on security for their facilities, and for Nokē in general (range of costs)? How does an operator monetize the expense of the security technology? 

Many operators are charging a simple technology fee. With Nokē, the tenant has an application on their smartphone enabling the features we have talked about; this is valuable information and control for the tenant. Some owners charge up for Nokē units, but either way, they have an advantage in security and technology over their competitors’ sites. Some owners are negotiating and receiving larger revenue shares on tenant insurance and protection plans with Nokē.  The cost per door depends on the units being placed in service during construction or being retrofitted in the field. One can expect to pay per door. 

When you’re not working hard at your job, how do you like to unwind and enjoy your free time? 

I like to wake surf; I do not live near an ocean, so I do this behind a wake surf boat. I have struggled to find excellent accommodation for my boat. Most enclosed units are not tall enough or wide enough for today’s surf boats. Note to developers: We need wide and tall units for surf boats!

Visit the Janus website to learn more about the Nokē Smart Entry System. 

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