By Barry Morris
Now that we're deep enough into 2000 to have stopped writing 1999 on our checks, it's apparent that things here on Mother Earth aren't as futuristic as many predicted years ago. We still get around in gas-powered vehicles that roll on rubber tires, cloning has been limited to sheep and other lesser species, and no colonization of distant planets has taken place--yet.
Our society also appears to have emerged from the millennium red alert virtually unscathed. Few Y2K incidents of any kind were reported in the mass media, and certainly nothing that could be called catastrophic. This seemed to be the proverbial green light for everyone to get on with their lives and resume normal activity. Among other things, this meant that computer owners could stop worrying about whether or not it would operate come Jan. 1, and once again focus on using the machines for their intended purpose: to enhance productivity.
For self-storage operators, the computer can be like a trusted friend. Virtually any management or accounting function--from inventory management to printing of deposit tickets and leases, invoicing and late-charge processing, lock-out of delinquent tenants, gauging the effectiveness of marketing efforts, and much more--can be accomplished, depending on the software package you choose. The right software package greatly enhances the efficiency of every task it performs, leaving managers with more time to accomplish other things and add more money to the bottom line.
Whether your facility has 1,000 units or 100, computerization has its advantages. But for smaller facilities that have sufficed with manual recordkeeping since their inception, the prospect of turning everything over to a machine can, understandably, be intimidating. For others who got in on automation's ground floor with a DOS-based system, the emergence of Windows as the operating system of choice is creating pressure for many to either convert to Windows at considerable cost or be left behind. There are nearly as many concerns as there are facility operators experiencing them. But regardless of which system is used, most agree that the effort required to automate a self-storage business is a short-term inconvenience with long-term benefit potential.
Virtually Any Task Possible
While it's true that a software program can't fix broken door locks or persuade an indecisive potential tenant to sign on the dotted line, it can certainly simplify management and financial functions so that a manager has more time to devote to facility maintenance, customer relations and other duties. Other benefits of the self-storage software packages available in today's market include greater operational accuracy, revenue enhancement, more detailed management reporting and theft deterrence.
Most packages will generate any paperwork needed by a self-storage owner or manager. Bills, statements, notices, letters, sales and transaction reports, move-in/move-out reports, payment and fee collection reports, and overdue/delinquent tenant reports are among the documents routinely produced by most available software packages. Most also provide integration with familiar accounting software, such as QuickBooks, and interface with access-control systems to deny entry to delinquent tenants. On the other hand, some packages have unique features, or subtle variations in their methods of performing functions, that may make one more suitable than another for your operation.
Graphic interfaces, such as facility maps, are offered by a handful of software vendors. These maps vary in flexibility and function, but those vendors offering them are careful to ensure that operators can use them easily. "The property map needs to be flexible," says Markus Hecker, marketing director for SMD Technologies of Wake Forest, N.C., whose SiteLink package offers a printable property-map feature. "It's critical that the user can go into the map at any one time and change it around. You need to be able to turn two units into one, and vice-versa, and your map needs to be able to reflect that. You also need to be able to add units on and delete units. What users don't want is to have to depend on us--to have to send the program back, have us make the change, and so forth. The program needs to be flexible and user-friendly enough to let the operator do that."
Printing the map falls into the same category. With self-storage being the hands-on business it is, a frequent walk-through of a facility is seen by many owners and managers as the best way to keep track of what's going on. "Some people like a walk-through list to audit their units, to make sure all the units that are supposed to be overlocked are, in fact, overlocked," Hecker says. Other clients mainly use the map feature so they can print it out for customer use.
HI-TECH Smart Systems of Kailua, Hawaii, includes a highly versatile property-map feature in its RentPlus package. The map allows the user to click on an individual unit on the computer screen and be able to see its immediate status through color-coding and other information. If the unit is occupied, says HI-TECH President Mike Richards, all of the current renter's information appears on the screen, including his account, and gives the user the option to take payments, move the occupant out or change an address.
"When they're looking at the screen, they see a map of their facility, where the various units are laid out in the relative size, how they're laid out and where the corridors and aisles are," explains Richards. "What we've done is make it a very visual experience to run your facility. You're basically looking at a map of your facility and anything you want to do, you find the unit, click on it and off you go."
Empower Software Technologies of Sun City, Calif., also offers a useful interactive-map function in its Storage Commander package. When the cursor is moved over a unit, a unit-information box is immediately updated with tenant, account status, contact and other vital information. The package also has a photo ID module that allows the manager to take a digital picture of a customer's driver's license.
The Task Master software package, produced by Real Management Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz., "can be used as a completely paperless system," says Gregg Genualdi, company president. "If somebody came along and said that they never wanted to have a printer again, this system could be a paperless system. Every document is stored in a file so that you don't have to print things out (for filing purposes). If someone comes back five years from now and says 'I need all my receipts,' you can go in and print all the receipts again in our system. They're stored in the file structure of the system so we can regenerate any document."
Financial controls are also important to self-storage owners. What was perhaps the most dangerous drawback to manual accounting systems, and even some early computer programs, has largely been eliminated in newer software packages.
"Within our system, you are not authorized to delete transactions that the system creates automatically," says Ron Plamondon, president of Traverse City, Mich.-based Integrity Software Systems. The company's software, Mini Storage Personal Accountant, touts its financial controls as a major strength. "You can reduce tenant balances, for instance, by issuing credit memos. But what it does is leave a record in the system for the owners to review any discretionary credit that might have been applied to somebody's account. It's a good way of making sure that all the cash that may come into the facility actually goes into the bank and is not tampered with by the managers. We've had several instances where inappropriate activities by managers have been detected by our software. It's just something to keep non-owner managers honest."
Other features, such as pay-at-the-gate, create convenience for both tenants and managers. Besides allowing facilities an instant, hassle-free way to recoup delinquent rents and late fees, it provides tenants a way to reconcile their accounts at any time, even after hours, without embarrassment.
Is DOS Being Thrown Out the Window(s)?
The popularity of the Microsoft Windows operating system might lead one to believe that DOS-based systems are fading away. But in the self-storage industry, nothing could be farther from the truth. Most vendors have developed and introduced Windows-based software packages, but DOS programs are still relatively easy to find, and many long-time DOS users are steadfastly clinging to their tried-and-true product.
Opinions differ greatly on DOS's long-term viability in a Windows world. Some owners find that the flexibility it allows them for reports and other key functions works well for them. Others claim to have had less-than-desired results with Windows experiments.
Conversely, at least one vendor contends that, in the self-storage industry, DOS's life-support plug has been pulled. "DOS is a dead issue," says Michael Kelley, owner and president of Dilloware Inc., based in New Braunfels, Texas. "You could write a DOS program to deal with a four-digit year. But the analogy I like to give is that it's kind of like owning a 1970 Chevrolet that uses leaded gasoline. When unleaded became pretty much the main thing, you could still find leaded gasoline for awhile. But now, forget it. You can't get it. It's the same way with computers. Getting people who are familiar with DOS and can repair the older machines is becoming a bigger and bigger problem."
"Our old DOS program was not Y2K compatible, so we got everyone converted to our Windows program, and we're putting the finishing touches on changes that have been requested by our users," says Integrity Software's Plamondon, who adds that the company's conversion efforts met with modest resistance. "We had two or three customers who were not comfortable in a Windows environment, and really didn't want to convert. We struggled in getting them to commit to converting--they didn't want to deal with the mouse, with slide bars, and all that. They just liked the old DOS version better.
"But I think, for the most part, everybody realized that they pretty much had to do it. The biggest complaints some of them had was needing to buy a new computer, because the computers they had were 486s and 386s in some cases, and worked just fine doing what they were doing. But the other side of that is that the tools we used to create the application in the DOS environment aren't available anymore. We were pretty much forced to convert as well. We waited as long as we could, but we just felt this was a good time to convert totally from the DOS environment."
Mike Skrentny, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Mystic Systems Technology Corp. (MSTC), likens the situation to that of the mid-1980s, when many hung onto their Apple computers while most of the corporate world gravitated toward IBM and IBM- compatible machines. "People began producing programs in DOS and, pretty soon, everybody moved over to the DOS platform," he says. "Right now, we and companies like ours are focusing all of our programming attention on our new Windows products, so we're not doing a lot of development in the DOS program. Ultimately, what will happen is the Windows programs will so far outshine the DOS programs that it will just be a logical business choice to move over. Sooner or later, people will see that there are enough reasons to do it."
Of course, hardware requirements for running Windows instead of DOS are significantly different. The best way to ensure you have the necessary computer power to run the management software of your choice is to consult with your software vendor. He can tell you minimum and recommended hardware requirements for programs, and can probably help determine whether your existing system will make the grade. Generally, new Windows-based PCs come with enough memory to run any self-storage management software, but buyers should always ask to be sure.
Other vendors take a more middle-of-the-road stance in the DOS vs.Windows debate. "We have lots of DOS customers, in terms of both security and software," says Dave Reddick, president of Sentinel Systems in Lakewood, Colo. "I may have 3,000 to 4,000 DOS customers out there, so we certainly aren't going to abandon them. We continue to support them, and where we can be creative, we do a little bit of development; but you don't have the tools to do much development with DOS anymore."
Reddick says Sentinel has about 1,500 Windows systems in place and has offered the software for about four years, with many of the usual trials and tribulations. "The first two years were really ugly, but the last two years have been very nice and productive because it stabilized and it performs well," he says. "A lot of the early problems you saw have been fixed, or have gone away, or Microsoft has done some work and their portion of the problem has gone away. We're doing lots of development on the Windows systems, and that's where all the new, flashy stuff is going to come from because you've got the tools to do it.
"Secondarily, you can hardly buy a computer anymore that doesn't have Windows on it. Plus, if you're running certain things in a DOS environment and you try to run them in a Windows operating system, you're going to have difficulties, and you'd just as soon avoid that."
Ramona Taylor, president of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Space Control Systems, agrees. "Sooner or later we're all going to have to be on Windows," she says. "Microsoft keeps threatening to do away with the DOS prompt in their new versions, but they haven't done that yet. And I think that would be hard to do, because there's a lot of DOS software out there that works. But a lot of hardware people are now making printers, modems, etc., that only talk to Windows." What's more, many features that managers now look for in software--such as Internet access, e-mailing rent reminders and faxing via computer--are possible only through Windows.
Windows systems can offer an experienced user several advantages over DOS, including time savings, though DOS devotees will find that Windows takes some getting used to. Even finding the right touch for moving the mouse pointer around can be challenging for some people, but most users agree that the need to grasp the nuances of Windows is unavoidable.
In order to make the final product as user-friendly as possible, development of Windows software is a somewhat longer process than with DOS. "Windows is considerably more complex (in terms of updates) than the DOS environment," says Reddick. "Some portions of what the developers have to do may be faster, but the overall process isn't. There are many more things to be considered, and you often have many programs running at the same time, and there can be interaction between the programs. It may well be slower, and I think that's why everybody has taken awhile getting their Windows products to market."
Ancillary Profit Centers
These days, self-storage managers nationwide are discovering how ancillary products and services such as boxes, tape, packing materials and even truck rentals are giving a boost to their bottom line.
Many storage facilities are also taking advantage of another type of profit center--their otherwise idle space. Many law firms, banks, hospitals, insurance companies and others have a volume of critical business records--patient files, client files, as well as backup tapes for data processing, etc.--that get rotated off-site for a period of time prior to destruction. Often, these firms just don't have the room or don't want to pay for the valuable office space to keep all those records on site. So they ship them to outside facilities, such as self-storage facilities, where they are stored and retrieved as needed.
For this special niche area, Irvine, Calif-based O'Neil Product Development offers a product known as RS-SQL (Records Storage, The Sequel), the successor to the company's original RSWin (Records Storage for Windows) program. "Ultimately, many companies that are either in self-storage or moving and storage can become frustrated with turnovers of rent, and with a certain portion of their storage being empty for a portion of the time," says Jim Teske, O'Neil sales manager. "In records storage, one of the biggest advantages is long-term residual income. When I gain a relationship with a law firm to manage its business records, those records sit off-site and, once I've got the account, as long as I do a good job of serving it, I keep it. A lot of people in (many businesses, including) self-storage, jump into the records- storage business for that very reason."
Many don't think of unit security as a source of income enhancement, but it can be. QuikStor, which produces keypads and alarms in addition to its software, offers empty alarm boxes for installation on storage-unit doors, which can be replaced by working alarm boxes for tenants who choose the option. "Crooks can't tell the empty boxes from the real ones," says Doug Carner, marketing director for QuikStor. "What you do is rent out the security to the tenant--we have the only system you can rent to tenants--and as you rent them, you replace the empty boxes with the real ones so that the tenants are paying for the security. (With) all the other systems, you have to just buy it outright and hope you get your money back. Here, you only put it up as tenants want the service. Carner says the reasonable price of the alarm boxes--$60 per unit--allows operators to quickly recover their investment even at modest rental rates.
The concept of universal interface, a standardization of software protocol to allow any management software to automatically integrate with any security/ access control system, has been discussed for years, but has never progressed far beyond the talking stage. And as time continues to pass without further progress being made, those who would like to see it happen are conceding that it's unlikely.
"I'm doing everything in my power to make it happen," says QuikStor's Carner. "But there are companies out there that talk cooperation but don't do anything. Ideally, I hope it happens. But after having seen companies that say they're going to integrate but don't do anything, I don't think it's ever going to become a reality. There's too much turf war going on."
Most any company's management software system can be integrated with any other's security/access control system, and this task is often undertaken on an individual-case basis by a vendor--usually the second one to come into the picture--as a courtesy to a customer. "Interface is an interesting thing because it only exists for one purpose, and that's so someone can make a sale," says Reddick of Sentinel, which produces both management and access-control systems. "But once the sale is made, there isn't necessarily any motivation to update the interface or to maintain it over a period of time."
Dealing with post-integration problems presents another challenge. "There's really a very cooperative effort between most (vendors)," says MSTC's Skrentny. "We talk with each other and we share the protocol for our interfaces and work with them. The problem is that when you put it out in the field, there are likely going to be issues that come up, and the question is, how quickly and efficiently will those issues be (addressed) without finger pointing?"
Reddick adds that companies that provide both management and access-control systems "are not welcomed very easily into the interface scheme of things, because one side or the other feels like, at some point, we're going to take away their business because we do both." However, the efforts of companies such as QuikStor and Sentinel, which have both contributed significant dialogue and data to the universal-interface concept, would seem to invalidate those concerns.
"Everyone's got an opinion," says Skrentney, "and everyone usually thinks that their opinion is the best. What I believe needs to happen is that someone like the Self Storage Association needs to set a standard and control it, because they are the voice of the industry. They need to say to the vendors, 'This is what the interface needs to be and what the structure needs to be. We've hired a consultant to go over this, and this is the decision that we've made.' I think if that were to happen, the vendors could get standardized."
Tips for Taking the Plunge
Most lists of do's and don'ts for software buying adhere to common principles. First, when compiling a list of vendors, it's best to stick with those specializing in the self-storage industry, as there is no substitute for experience-based knowledge. Trying to adapt software designed for other purposes, such as apartment management, will likely produce disappointing results.
Research product offerings. Obtain demonstrator copies, references and brochures from several companies. Attending a trade show makes side-by-side demonstrations possible and allows direct, in-person contact with salespeople. If visiting a show is not possible, most vendors offer an abundance of information on the Internet, and some even provide downloadable demo programs on their web sites.
Utilize the experience of your peers. "You've got to talk to references in your area to find out what the support is like, what works with the software, what doesn't work, how the experiences of training managers is, what help they got from the software company, things like that," says HI-TECH's Richards. About references: Getting input from other operators is never a bad idea, but remember that software vendors only include their satisfied customers on reference lists. Don't simply ask fellow operators about the product they're using and why they like it; also find out if they tried other products before settling on their final choice. By doing this, you'll learn about potential red flags that may never arise in a salesman's demonstration.
The most important rule in choosing software is to take ample time to find a package that fits your needs to the greatest extent possible. "I would encourage people to be very thoughtful and to do their homework before they buy anything from anybody," says Reddick. "I would encourage them to make their own comparisons. Business has been good in storage (software); many of the vendors are doing just fine. They don't have to get ugly and dirty about trying to make a sale. But they often may overpromise. From my point of view, I'd rather not sell a package if customers aren't sure that it's going to do what they need it to do, because there's not enough money in it to make too many bad deals."
"We also try to emphasize that they don't rush their decision, which, unfortunately, is fairly common," adds Richards. "Take a new facility, for example. What often happens is that they'll order software demos maybe three or four months before they open. But they won't look at them until two or three weeks before they open, and at that point they don't really have time to study the program as much as they probably should. All software essentially does the same basic functions, but like everything else in life, the devil is in the details, and there are often very subtle things that may make the difference between what works for you and what doesn't."
Space Control's Taylor has a theory why people sometimes don't exercise the care they should in selecting software. "It's the marketing that Microsoft has done," she says. "They've convinced everybody that anybody worth their salt is in Windows. It was a good thing for them to do to promote their Windows product, but it's causing a lot of havoc among software people and their users. People seem to have dropped everything they know about how to look for software and just said, 'I want Windows."
"It's not necessarily easy to build a good Windows package, and because there are lots of new programming languages that do a lot of the work for you, it's almost easier to build a bad package," Taylor says. It's also important when choosing software to not only consider your present and future situation, but also that of the vendor. Are they going to be there for you every step of the way while you reach your comfort zone? Are they going to be there down the road? And exactly what value does the vendor place on personal relationships?
"One of the things that came as a surprise to me in this business is the length of time software companies have a relationship with their customers," Richards says. "We tend to think of it as selling a product--you sell the product and you're done with it. But relationships between software vendors and their customers are much more similar to relationships people have with their accountants and attorneys. These are lifelong types of things. I have customers where I deal with the children of the people who bought from me originally."
What's on the Horizon?
Vendors continually work to improve their software packages, adding features and making existing ones better. The Windows operating environment is still new to many vendors, a fact which will require those vendors to stay current with improvements and upgrades.
Taking advantage of upgrades as they are introduced is crucial, says Richards, regardless of which vendor's system is used. "It's a changing universe, especially in software and computers," he says, "so it's best to plan on continuous, incremental upgrades, rather than putting it off year after year so that once every five or six years you have this massive change. You're better off doing all the incremental updates and accepting that change a little bit at a time. Otherwise, if you wait too long, your change is too radical."
Genualdi feels his company's Task Master system is a precursor of a future standard. "More and more, I think systems are going to move away from paper down the road," he says. "People don't want to print second receipts for everything, or print all these reports. If they can just go back and regenerate them through the computer, they will. As long as people back up their systems to guard against crashes, the information will be there forever."
Among the new bells and whistles expected in the near future are wireless keypads, along with remote consoles that allow a manager to open and close units and gates and make other system changes from anywhere on the property. Still, the main focus of many vendors will be to further develop their Windows packages, ironing out glitches and incorporating enhancements as the Windows system itself evolves.
However, a growing consensus is that the future of self-storage software lies on the Internet, another advantage for the Windows system. "It has only begun to impact our businesses and our lives," Richards says. "It's going to be very different five years from now, whether we're talking about backing up your data over the Internet, or customers paying their bill over the Internet, or Yellow Pages being gone and replaced completely by online Yellow Pages. It's going to really change things. Owners should be training themselves and their managers on what computers are all about. And that, today, means Windows. They should start with that, and then go on to the Internet and understand how to do that. It's just going to become a more essential tool."
"In my opinion, the Internet is going to be a fabulous tool for the multi-facility owners, management companies and so forth," says Tom Smith, Empower Software's managing director. "We've got some really exciting Internet-based enhancements to our package. It's a very viable market. It's going to happen, and we're going to be there. But the mom-and-pop facilities don't need it--they don't even want the Internet on their system because they don't want their managers spending time on the Internet vs. doing other things."
But MSTC's Skrentny says the Internet should be viewed as an asset, not a distraction. "You're supposed to be hiring business managers and people that you trust," he says. "You leave them at your storage facility all day long and entrust them with a multi-million dollar complex, and your whole financial future is in their hands. They should be mature enough to be able to handle the Internet and the responsibilities that go along with that. You would not prohibit someone from having a phone at their facility and having long-distance (service), but you expect them not to violate that privilege. It's the same type of thing. If you don't have the type of managers that can handle that, they're probably not good managers for you to have at all."
Acorn Products/DCAL Computer Systems
4100 Adams Rd., Suite C101
P.O. Box 3936
Bartlesville, OK 74006
Phone: (918) 333-2996/(800) 328-3225
Fax: (918) 335-0240
Acorn Products/DCAL Computer Systems, a producer of software products designed for self-storage, has been in business for 20 years and serves the United States, Canada, the Bahamas and Australia. Acorn Products for self-storage consist of UNItroller Management Software, UNIkey Access Control Software System, Vertical Lift Gate, Central Office Systems and all ancillary items to provide complete control of a self-storage facility. UNItroller Management Software and the UNIkey Access Control System both operate on one computer simultaneously. The UNItroller system communicates to the UNIkey system who to lock out for non-payment, and will automatically unlock them when their account is brought current.
P.O. Box 47
Marcellus, NY 13108
Phone: (800) 817-7706
Fax: (315) 673-0911
Automation Technologies has been serving the self-storage industry since 1991. The company's flagship product, The Storage Management System for Windows, has been shipping since 1997. The open architecture of the package allows exports to Microsoft Office, various electronic gate systems and Quickbooks. Automation Technologies prides itself in providing a stable, intuitive product backed up with excellent technical support. The standard version of the Storage Management System includes all of the basic features of the software, priced at $1,495. The professional version includes the gate interface, networking, photo capture and automatic credit-card billing options, priced at $2,495. A technical-support program provides unlimited access to the toll-free number as well as periodic updates at $199 per year.
2825 FM 2722
New Braunfels, TX 78132
Phone: (800) 880-0887
Fax: (830) 899-2124
Dilloware Inc. produces billing and accounts-receivable software affordable to all self-storage owners. The Billing Clerk automatically bills and tracks monthly rents, produces monthly statements, aging, past-due notices, late charges, print receipts, etc. Owners have the option of printing a statement at any time, not just at billing time. Customer history is maintained for as long as needed for an unlimited number of customers, and there is a large notepad for information on each (comments, security codes, credit-card information, etc.). The Billing Clerk sells for one low price, whether a facility has 100 or 10,000 units. The program is intentionally designed for easy installation and use. The Dilloware programming staff has been producing easy-to-use, affordable billing software for more than 18 years.
Empower Software Technologies
27851 Bradley Road, Suite 120
Sun City, CA 92586-2202
Phone: (877) 672-6257
Fax: (909) 672-6258
From its inception, Storage Commander was designed as a 32-bit Windows-based modular system, allowing owners of small, medium or large facilities to purchase a basic management system at an inexpensive price, with the ability to add on additional components for increased productivity as needed. This concept also allows Empower to offer turnkey versions of Storage Commander to meet the needs of small, medium or large management companies requiring advanced functions such as Internet facility control, manager security access based on unique I.D. and password, photo I.D. system, interactive site map, comprehensive tracking of all accounting and facility activities, and a complete range of facility and financial reports.
HI-TECH Smart Systems
407 Uluniu St., Suite 312
Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 263-7775/(800) 551-8324
Fax: (808) 261-4447
HI-TECH has been producing software for the self-storage industry since 1986. RentPlus is HI-TECH's self-storage software for Microsoft Windows, and was designed from the ground up to provide all of the features needed for self-storage today and in years to come. Highlights include an on-screen interactive map of your facility, daily, weekly and monthly rentals, multiple plans, automatic charges and notices, complete built-in inventory management, customizable letters and much more. Customer photos and other photos may be attached and viewed with a customer's record. RentPlus includes technical support, updates and a risk-free money-back guarantee.
Integrity Software Systems Inc.
3211 Continental Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
Phone: (800) THEY-KNOW/(231) 941-2322
Fax: (231) 941-9544
Integrity Software Systems' Mini Storage Personal Accountant has been designed to offer self-storage facilities an accounting system that is easy to use and provides strong financial controls. Such controls prevent locking out customers who have paid and helps prevent manager theft. Chris Ray, a practicing CPA, and Ron Plamondon, a professional system developer, are well qualified to design, develop and support installation.
135 Cambridge St.
Burlington, MA 02038
Phone: (781) 229-6631
Fax: (781) 270-9088
Microtask Inc., founded in 1996, has more than 20 years experience in the self-storage market and an engineering team with more than 50 years of collective experience in the development of Windows- and Internet-based applications. In 1998, the company introduced Stor-Rite '98, designed to enable facility managers to increase the accuracy of their operations, reduce operational costs, make more efficient use of their time and focus on more revenue-generating activities. Stor-Rite can be shaped to fit the way owners do business--customize late fees, lien fees, charges, credits, recurring charges, coupons and more. The program can also process credit cards automatically, interface to the most popular gate-security systems and be shared by multiple computers on a network.
MSTC (Mystic Systems Technology Corp.)
7430 E. Butherus Drive, Suite A
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (800) BUY-MSTC
MSTC (Mystic Systems Technology Corp.) has been developing automated management systems for the self-storage industry for 16 years. The company offered one of the industry's first PC-based property-management software systems complemented by a billing- sensitive, PC-based security system. MSTC is also proud to offer 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week technical support to its users. Windows-based, 32-bit applications for property-management and security systems are available, as well as a full complement of security hardware to meet all facility automation needs. Additionally, MSTC now offers a one-of-a-kind Computer Based Training (CBT) system with complete on-site, interactive, property-manager training and testing tools.
13908 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (800) 321-1987/(818) 990-5575
Fax: (818) 501-5785
QuikStor is a complete software, access and wireless-door-alarm solution. Its mini-storage management software can automatically print and/or e-mail delinquency notices and reports overnight, automatically collect rent by credit card, integrate with QuickBooks, support multiple terminals, integrate digital photography and provide interactive site graphics. QuikStor access control keypads support both numeric codes and magnetic cards (such as driver's licenses, AAA and credit cards). Delinquent residents can use their credit card to pay at the gate without the manager's assistance. The large keypad display provides intelligent feedback to the tenant. The integrated intercom allows communication up to a half mile, and a keypad camera automatically displays a picture of each person attempting access, storing it digitally on a manager's computer for later reference. QuikStor individual unit door alarms are wireless, easy-to-install security that can be rented to residents as an attractive profit center.
Real Management Systems
3200 N. Hayden Road, Suite 230
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Phone: (480) 941-6047/(877) 877-7325
Fax: (480) 941-4121
TaskMaster is a user-friendly, 32-bit Windows-based management-software program designed to handle all aspects of a self-storage business. The client-based system simplifies managing collections on delinquent accounts, assigning multiple rentals, and consolidation of billing. TaskMaster manages merchandise sales, inventory, insurance and other income, and provides infinite client history for use as a powerful marketing tool. The Master Access System features a hard-wired Multiplexers alarm system. Keypads offer system intelligence and the latest technology, and are equipped with a light-sensing LCD display, back-lit keypad and a built-in intercom speaker, in an all-weather aluminum case with a card-swipe option. Responsive, cost-effective support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact RMS for an operational demo CD.
Sentinel Systems Corp.
1620 Kipling St.
Lakewood, CO 80215
Phone: (800) 456-9955/(303) 242-2000
Fax: (303) 242-2010
Sentinel Systems has been a leader in providing security electronics and property-management software to the self-storage industry for more than 25 years. What began as a way to eliminate break-ins for a group of self-storage facilities has grown into one of the largest security and software suppliers in the industry. The firm now serves more than 15,000 systems worldwide, with a tenant-user population in the millions. The company's mission is to provide superior products and outstanding customer service through innovations in technology, people, systems and marketing.
SMD Technologies Inc.
152 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC 27587
Phone: (919) 562-6711
Fax: (919) 562-0269
SMD Technologies has been developing Windows-based programming since the early days of the Windows operating system. The company's experience has led to SiteLink 98, a powerful, easy-to-use tool for managing all areas of self-storage operations. Features of SiteLink 98 include download capabilities for home offices, controls for importing data into QuickBooks, customizable letters and notices, and more. Industry-first functions of SiteLink 98 include the Task Manager, which tracks deadlines and past-due events. SiteLink 98 also features customizable forms and a printable property map that is unsurpassed in its ease of use. According to Markus Hecker, marketing director, SMD Technologies will continue to innovate its software and will soon include features such as networking capabilities, enhanced communication functions and more.
Space Control Systems Inc.
2815 Mitchell Drive, Suite 205
Walnut Creek, CA 94598-1622
Phone: (800) 455-9055/(925) 943-6222
Fax: (925) 943-6370
Since Space Control's inception in 1984, President Ramona Taylor has kept the company's sights on providing a software-management package to address the unique requirements of the self-storage industry. To meet this goal, the product has to be instantly understandable to anyone in that field, intuitive to the novice user and highly automated. When research indicated that absentee owners needed on-site control, Space Control filled that need by auditing every variance from standard procedure. From the smallest single facility with 85 spaces to the largest facility with more than 5,000 spaces, to the largest single company, with more than 1,400 locations, Space Control has met the demand. The same philosophy has now been applied to Space Control II, the new Windows package.
Umbrella Systems Inc.
P.O. Box 1808
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Phone: (800) 544-0652
Fax: (360) 697-3165
The Umbrella System is a complete software package for the management of self-storage facilities. Programmed from the ground up, the Umbrella System is not an adaptation of an existing software package, but is designed to be a powerful, flexible and simple product to use. The strength of the Umbrella System is that it maintains a line-item record of all transactions, giving the user an accurate account history, preliminary lien notices, an itemized rent statement and fully auditable cash-flow statements.