Early in 1998, Eau Claire, Wis.-based Quayle Computer Concepts entered the national market of self-storage management software with a Windows-based program called the Storage/Warehouse Asset Management Program, or SWAMP. The path to success was neither short nor easy, with the program having undergone four major updates through 13 builds. But today, the company enjoys its place among the ranks of competitive software providers within the industry.
Getting Up and Running
In 1977, in a father-and-son partnership, Calvin and Gordon Quayle began the construction of CQrt Self-Storage, with Calvin managing the facility while Gordon finished school to become a computer programmer. Being naturally frugal, Calvin first used manual billing and record-keeping methods to run the business, then later graduated to the use of a Burroughs B-20 computer to automate his company functions.
He reviewed professional software and found it both expensive and incompatible with his operating system. However, using a word processor and spreadsheet, he was soon creating computerized invoices, late notices, letters and envelopes, as well as occupancy and income records. Over the years, Gordon would write macros on the spreadsheets to speed the process, making functions more accurate and easier to use. By this time, Calvin had graduated to a Compaq computer and a Windows operating system.
Gordon created Quayle Computer Concepts and developed a management program for a local insurance company. He realized many of the problems he had addressed with that project could also be applied to the record-keeping needs of self-storage, spurring the rise of the SWAMP program. During the next two years, Calvin utilized the program in his business and made suggestions for improvement while Gordon added features.
Eventually, the two felt the program was suitable for presentation to the industry, and it was offered to self-storage owners in the Eau Claire, Wis., area. Four managers purchased the program and added their own suggestions for further changes. Version 1.0 of the program underwent five updates before Gordon reached completion of version 2.0, which was offered to the public for the first time at the Inside Self-Storage Expo in Las Vegas, February 1998.
According to the Quayles, response to the program has been positive, with several managers inquiring as to why the program is so inexpensive, weighing in at hundreds of dollars less than some other popular management packages. But its inceptors insist no program should be too costly. They point out the SWAMP program does not feature some of the bells and whistles that add complexity and cost to some of the other available programs, though it is comprehensive.
Targeted especially for owner-operated facilities that do not want or need security-gate interface, elaborate password protection and audit trails, the SWAMP program efficiently handles all other management features, including templates for recording tenant information and payments, late fees, deposits and other miscellaneous information. It also generates invoices, envelopes or labels, as well as a wide range of reports, such as income, expense, occupancy, units available or locked out, and late and current tenants. Automatic rate increase and updating of tenant rates is also available, accommodating either anniversary or specified billing and automatic prorating of the first payment.
Since the unveiling of SWAMP version 2.0, more than 30 improvements have been made to the program to eliminate bugs and add features requested by users. Among these are greater control and flexibility in assessing late fees and the automation of rent increases. When Gordon presented the program at a meeting of the Texas Mini Storage Association in Dallas, May 1998, the question was asked, "Does it use the TMSA lease?" Though the response at the time was negative, that has since changed, demonstrating just one example of Quayle's responsiveness to customer requests. The company is now offering SWAMP version 2.3.
Keeping Good on a Promise
According to Gordon, computer software should fulfill its promise of making life easier and assist professionals in managing their office functions. "Our motto is 'Making Computers Work for You,'" he says. "One of us has managed storage units for more than 20 years, and the other has been programming computers for nearly that long. It was a natural merger to combine our experience and create a software product specifically designed for the smaller operation at a reasonable price."
Both father and son are committed to serving the self-storage industry as a whole, but particularly their loyal clientele. "We keep our overhead low, and we listen to our customers," says Gordon. "We will continue to add the features our customers want. We are committed to make a software product that truly makes good on its promises. What more could you ask?" For more information, visit www.quayles.com