Hiring Information-Technology Support for Your Self-Storage Business

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For a service-oriented business such as self-storage, effective technology is […]

For a service-oriented business such as self-storage, effective technology is a differentiator. Facilities must be operational 24/7/365. Not only do they often have digital and physical security needs, many now employ some form of automation. That means there’s a need information-technology (IT) support. When you require it, it’s critical; but not all operators can afford to keep staff with this expertise in house.

This is when outsourced IT services can be a real boon. Partnering with a managed-services provider (MSP) means your self-storage operation has access to a virtual IT department staffed with knowledgeable technicians working to ensure your facility is running seamlessly.

Depending on the type of partnership, services can include around-the-clock tech support, onsite support, cybersecurity, and specialty support for critical solutions such as video surveillance—all without the need to employ additional staff. Further, the right partner can help your employees be more efficient, reduce tenant churn, improve your overall customer experience, and keep your physical and digital assets secure.

More Key Benefits

While outsourcing IT typically costs much less than hiring in-house technology talent, the advantages extend well beyond money. Here are several reasons why this type of arrangement could be the perfect fit for your self-storage business:

Monitoring. Proactive maintenance and network monitoring are simple but effective ways to avoid widespread outages. The idea is to stop potential issues before they escalate into problems. Most MSPs deploy software that provides insights into the health of your technology, alerting the IT team before an issue gains momentum. They can also monitor physical security solutions such as access-control panels and video-surveillance systems.

Cost-savings. Migrating to a predictable, monthly IT-services contract brings stability to your budget. Additionally, compared to hiring a full-time person (or several) to manage your technology and troubleshoot problems, an MSP is an affordable alternative.

Established processes. When you submit a support ticket to an IT partner, your request is quickly evaluated to set priority. Problems that impact customers or a wide swath of employees are pushed to the top of the list. Your provider will have established processes and responsive service-level agreements that are clearly outlined in your contract. That means your self-storage operation can, in turn, provide clear directions for securing IT support for employees and clients.

Technical expertise. MSPs offer a range of knowledge including cloud services, compliance support and network resiliency, and can manage the cybersecurity and physical security needs unique to self-storage facilities. Working with one team is much more efficient than hiring multiple experts to handle network and other issues.

Integration. An MSP brings best practices for integrating data security with physical security, thereby supporting your operation’s need for sophisticated protection. Too often, companies suffer from a siloed security approach when their environment includes a complex mix of interior and exterior IT products.

Support. Around-the-clock support is a must-have for a 24/7 operation such as self-storage. Your customers need access to help whenever and wherever they are. Your MSP partner can fill that need.

Future planning. Don’t overlook the value of technology-lifecycle management MSPs offer. These partners help your business create a roadmap for tech investments, leveling up where needed. They can assist with purchasing and then deploying solutions, tasks typically billed at an hourly project rate.

Choosing Options

Most IT providers offer a basic set of services, then allow customers to select from multiple tiers of support as well as an a la carte selection of solutions such as video-surveillance installation or compliance consulting. Some also have options for adding onsite support, project work or additional support-staff hours according to your self-storage business needs. What you should expect is a clear overview of what the company provides. For example, cybersecurity is too vague a term, so ask for specifics.

Common baseline services include:

  • Remote help desk (hours and response times may vary by tier)
  • Remote network and server monitoring
  • General, automated maintenance as well as patching services
  • Endpoint security
  • Web-content filtering
  • Email security
  • Managed cloud services
  • Managed backup and disaster recovery
  • Onsite support

Selecting a Partner

It’s clear there are many benefits to working with an outsourced IT company, but you can only realize them if your partner is reputable and experienced. Look for MSPs that have well-documented, service-level agreements and proven processes for all aspects of their offerings, such as help-desk services, remote and onsite support, and proactive monitoring and maintenance. Also, ask for references, dig into their online reviews, and look for a business with a stable, tenured team of tech experts.

Review the following:

  • Monthly recurring pricing as well as project and hourly fees for out-of-scope work
  • Employee qualifications and experience
  • Onboarding processes
  • How they approach priority-setting with support tickets
  • Service-level agreements and response times
  • Cybersecurity expertise
  • Billing and payment terms
  • Software-development capabilities
  • Monitoring and proactive-maintenance schedules

Pricing

There are several elements to IT-support pricing. You can choose from service packages, or opt for flat-rate pricing or block-of-hours options. For many self-storage operators, a managed IT-services package is the most cost-effective, with pricing determined by the number of users and billed monthly. This creates an operating expense vs. a capital one.

However, there are exceptions, such as deploying new software throughout the business or integrating complex technology. Discuss what’s covered in your contract and what’s considered an add-on project. Understand how extras are priced. Some providers follow a simple, flat, hourly rate for service exceptions, while others may require you to purchase blocks of time.

Remember, to get the full advantages of outsourcing IT for your self-storage business, you’ll need to uncover the right partner. Then clearly define your needs and priorities, and explore the best plan for your budget, risk tolerance and employee expectations.

Daniel Haurey Jr. is president of Exigent Technologies, which he founded in 1997 to provide managed IT consulting and services to small and mid-sized businesses in New Jersey and New York. His commitment to client success and passion for excellence inspires Exigent’s white-glove customer service and high-performance culture, both of which focus on leading customers toward the innovative technology they need for success. To reach him, call 888.779.1956.

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