When Eric Jahnsen decided to move into one of our storage units, he was able to get it done from the comfort of his own home—well everything except the part about moving boxes to one of our spaces nearby.
Thanks to our eRental program, Jahnsen was able to spend just a couple of minutes on our website to zero in on the perfect Public Storage unit. He and his wife were ready to downsize and give up their four-bedroom home in South Florida, but not their stuff. He was able to quickly reserve, pay and sign his self-storage agreement for his new space at a Jupiter, Florida storage location, storage location, all remotely.
“I didn’t talk to a soul,” said Jahnsen, who moved in the following day. “I did it all online just like I wanted to.”
We recently launched the new eRental service to help people like Jahnsen, folks who think the best customer service is actually online self-service. The option is available at each of our more than 2,500 locations, and it has become a hit, especially among people trying to adopt as many social distancing practices as possible. Now when they get to their storage location, they can skip the service counter and head straight to their unit, one that has been prepared for them with a security seal and lock.
Before we launched the new service, customers had been able to find and reserve their storage unit on PublicStorage.com, but they still had to stop by in person to share their payment information and sign their storage lease.
The new process is so much easier, said Jahnsen:1. First, visit PublicStorage.com and enter your location to find a storage unit near you.
2. Then, reserve the unit online and see the reservation confirmation page pop up on your screen.3. After that, click on the Complete My Rental Now button below the eRental logo on the page and follow the prompts to move in online.
4. The day before you move in, we will email you (and also text if you’d like) directions to your location and your storage unit, and we’ll also give you your own keypad code to access the facility. We’ll send this information right away if you plan to move in that day.
5. Finally, you’re ready to start packing and then head over to your new storage unit and move in.
“This is another way to put customers at ease who might be hesitant to deal with an in-person interaction during these unprecedented times. It is truly a touchless experience that takes into account customer time and offers flexibility,” said Stephanie Stefanick, a Public Storage district manager in New York.
Online payments have long been on the rise, but adoption of contactless exchanges and payments have become more popular in the U.S. with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a consumer survey by Mastercard. In addition, earlier this year the World Health Organization began encouraging companies to offer contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.
"Public Storage adjusted its operations to remain resilient, which is great, which is what contactless is allowing businesses to do," said Sophia Anong, an associate professor at the University of Georgia who focuses on family and consumer economics. "It gives peace of mind all around. Not just for the customers, but the workers as well."
In addition to offering eRental as an option for social distancing, we are committed to following CDC guidelines during the pandemic. Our employees wear masks and we’ve also asked them to refrain from shaking hands, as well as to maintain a six-foot distance across all interactions. In addition, we have enhanced the cleaning of high-touch areas to reduce the risk of transmission.
Public Storage employees are still ready and eager to assist during office hours if needed, said Andrew Capranos, senior district manager in south Florida. In fact, the new eRental option frees up property managers to focus on that smaller number of customers today who still want personal service and the option of checking in with a team member to ask questions or to sign up for a new storage unit in person.
There is another benefit too. Texting and emailing the gate access code through eRental offers more flexibility for customers on a strict schedule. They can now move in before or after our offices are closed, which wasn’t an option before.
"In this environment, it's a great program that helps us meet our customers' needs," Capranos said.
For Jahnsen, who had rented storage units from us in the past, the eRental process was a pleasant surprise. He unabashedly acknowledges he prefers to do things online, even more so now with the corona virus pandemic.
“The first step in a move is to get a storage unit. It was perfect,” Jahnsen recounted.