By Barry Morris
The concept of "hands-on management" has changed through the years. Before the advent of technology as we know it today, many business functions, such as bookkeeping, were done manually--literally "hands on." But in the 21st century, we use a helpful tool called the computer, and if you're not using one--in conjunction with management software--to handle many of your business functions and make life easier, you may be unecessarily attached to your facility.
Do you ever lie awake in bed wondering if your self-storage customers are paying on time or getting extra days free at your expense? Were all the appropriate tenants subject to the most recent rent increase? Are employees skimming cash from the till? Does your unit mix need adjusting? Which marketing methods are bringing in the most business? Good self-storage management software programs can answer these questions and more.
For self-storage operators, the computer can be like a trusted friend. Virtually any management or accounting function can be accomplished, depending on the software package--inventory management, printing of deposit tickets and leases, invoicing, late-charge processing, lock-out of delinquent tenants, monitoring marketing efforts, etc. The right package greatly enhances the efficiency of every task it performs, leaving managers with more time to accomplish other tasks and more money toward the bottom line.
Whether your facility has 50 or 500 units, automation has its advantages. But for smaller facilities that have always gotten by with manual record keeping, the thought of relinquishing control of daily business to a machine can be intimidating. For others who jumped in at the dawn of automation with a DOS-based system, the emergence of Windows is creating pressure for many to convert, sometimes at considerable cost. Regardless of which system is used, most agree the effort required to computerize a self-storage business is a short-term inconvenience with long-term benefits.
A World of Possibilities
Fixing broken unit doors or persuading potential tenants to sign on the dotted line are beyond the capabilities of management software. But make no mistake, these programs can simplify management and financial functions so a manager has more time to devote to facility maintenance, customer relations and other duties. Other benefits of the self-storage software packages include greater operational accuracy, revenue enhancement, more detailed management reporting and theft deterrence.
The majority of programs 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 many interface with access-control systems to limit entry to customers in good standing.
Some packages have unique features or variations in the way they perform functions that may make one more suitable than another for your particular facility. Graphic interfaces, such as facility maps, are offered by a handful of software vendors. These maps vary in flexibility and function, but the vendors who offer them are careful to ensure self-storage operators can use them easily.
Most vendors of programs with interactive map functions agree a property map needs to be flexible. It's critical the user can go into the map at any time and change it around to suit his needs. For instance, operators frequently turn two units into one, and vice versa. A map needs to be able to reflect that. The ability to add or delete units is another vital function. What users don't need is to depend on the vendor at every turn. The program should be flexible and user-friendly, allowing the user to handle those tasks.
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--they don't see a map as necessary. Yet other operators mainly use the map feature so they can print out the map for customer use.
Other features, such as pay-at-the-gate, create convenience for managers and tenants. Besides allowing facilities an instant, hassle-free way to collect delinquent rents and late fees, it provides tenants a way to reconcile their accounts at any time, even after hours, without embarrassment.
What many operators want most from a software package, however, is strong financial-reporting capability. With varying degrees of detail, virtually all available packages perform these tasks admirably. SMD Technologies of Wake Forest, N.C., producer of the SiteLink software package, has made great strides in this area, according to Marketing Director Markus Hecker. "The way we can track or analyze activities at a facility has really come a long way," he says. "We're not just talking about discounts or adjustments; we break it down by what kinds of discounts or adjustments they were.
"One of the biggest problems in reporting is showing where the money didn't come in," Hecker continues. "Think of it as rent or receivables at the top of the page, and receipts at the bottom of the page. Somewhere in the middle, you need to itemize where money went away because the bottom line doesn't equal the top line--receipts don't equal receivables. That's a very complex task--to show the financial performance of your facility on one page."
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 many of today's software packages. "We make sure that transactions entered into the system cannot be modified after the fact," says Ron Plamondon, president of Integrity Software Systems in Traverse City, Mich. Financial controls, says Plamondon, are a major strength of the company's software, Mini Storage Personal Accountant. "In our software, we post information into what we call a batch, which is basically like a trip to the bank.
"Whenever you go to the bank--close out a batch--that information is permanently recorded in our software and can't be changed. If you're doing your accounting practices of balancing your software to what actually went in the bank, you can be sure that people aren't going back on those records and changing them later. You can still do adjustments within a new batch of information, but it makes sure that things aren't changed and tracks aren't covered."
Empower Software Technologies of Sun City, Calif., was readying the release of its new version of Storage Commander, 4.0, at press time. The company also plans to release a stand-alone tool kit that works in conjunction with Storage Commander. The tool kit contains a market analyzer, which reads a customer database to show where customer concentrations are coming from based on the addresses they give at move-in. Other demographic filters will allow market assessment according to new housing developments, new freeway construction, median income and many other factors. "Literally hundreds of other demographic filters can be put into the system so you can see where your customer concentration is," says Tom Smith, Empower's managing director. "That helps from a planning standpoint, so you know where to target new customers and where your business is coming from."
Umbrella Systems of Poulsbo, Wash., was also planning to introduce its next-generation package, Umbrella 3.0, at press time. The new version has been redesigned to look similar to the popular QuickBooks accounting program, though users have the option of using the package on a stand-alone basis or exporting data to QuickBooks, Peachtree or other popular accounting packages. Automatic report distribution is also featured, says Umbrella's president, Clark Stave.
DOS: Dead Operating System?
The dominance of the Microsoft Windows operating system might suggest that DOS-based systems are going the way of the dinosaurs. But this isn't the case in the self-storage industry, where a handful of vendors still have a sizable DOS user base. Most of these vendors have also developed and introduced Windows-based software packages, but pledge as much continued support as possible to their loyal DOS customers.
"You have a lot of facilities that go by the 'If is ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy," says Jon Reddick of Denver-based Sentinel Systems Corp. "Our DOS program is so solid, we never hear from those users. It's something they have installed, it continues to run and works great for them, and they don't want to spend the dough to upgrade it, so they don't."
Besides Sentinel, there are other software providers still working in a DOS environment, and these vendors' many customers are an indication the old operating system shouldn't yet be relegated to the pages of history. Yet most of today's self-storage software companies have long since moved away from DOS because the latest PCs simply aren't designed to run DOS programs. "There's still a lot of DOS hanging on out there because people don't necessarily want to change or don't know why they should change," says Mike Skrentny, CEO and president of Mystic Systems Technology Corp. (MSTC). "But what we're finding is that the new technology is starting to force them to change."
Peripheral hardware is also a consideration--most modern printers are designed only for use with Windows systems. And product support is very difficult--there is little or no ability to modify DOS to meet changing needs. The laws of supply and demand are also a factor. "We don't do a ton of new development in the DOS version simply because 99.9 percent of the product we sell now is Windows," Reddick says.
An apt real-world analogy illustrating the situation was offered by yet another vendor. "Computers have become like toasters and TVs," says Michael Kelley, president of New Braunfels, Texas-based Dilloware Inc. "When you have a problem, you don't fix them--you throw them out and get new ones." The Billing Clerk, Dilloware's software package, is designed for smaller self-storage operators who need basic business functions.
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.
Alternative Revenue Sources
Self-storage managers nationwide are discovering how ancillary products and services, such as packing materials, boxes, tape and even rental trucks, are providing a boost to their bottom line.
Storage facilities of all sizes 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, where they are stored and retrieved as needed. Moving and storage companies, which typically boast higher-capacity buildings than would be found at a self-storage facility, are becoming especially active in this area.
To serve this growing niche area, Cleveland-based Andrews Software Inc. (ASI) offers an information-management software package for commercial records centers. Features of the ASI software package include a client/departmental database module, user-defined fields and reports, dynamic warehouse tracking, multilevel invoicing for customers, and unlimited capacity. The program is barcode driven for speed and accuracy.
ASI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Andrews Companies, a records-management and transportation firm. The size of the facilities involved and the number of containers stored by Andrews clients makes it absolutely crucial to have an efficient software program capable of handling all aspects of the business, says ASI National Sales Manager Scott Bidwell.
"Our Cleveland operation has about 1.2 million cubic feet of records. There are two buildings, each about 65,000 square feet and 40 feet high. Say a customer calls up and says, 'I need box 22.' Imagine trying to run that operation without a software program," says Bidwell.
"The benefits of using a true commercial records center application are that you get into the business with the right tools," he continues. "There are no bad habits created by trying to wing it. It pretty much does everything for the business aside from going out and selling to customers. If you follow the business rules and logic in the software, it will pretty much run the operation. There are few industries where the software runs the operation or drives the business on a daily basis like the records-management business. It does everything from creating the bar codes to tracking the boxes in the warehouse."
Even though self-storage companies tend to get into records storage to provide an additional revenue stream, Bidwell stresses the importance of treating records storage as a separate business. "The ones who understand it and treat it as a separate business with a separate building--with a high ceiling or multistories--do very well with it," he says. Self-storage companies are usually not as successful with this type of endeavor as moving-and-storage firms, says Bidwell, because the building dimensions are not as conducive to high-volume storage.
While moving and storage companies might be better suited for records storage in the United States, Irvine, Calif.-based O'Neil Software says that's not necessarily the case overseas. O'Neil serves more than 700 records centers in 37 countries. According to Ian Thomas, vice president of business development, all but two of the company's 20-plus Australian clients have emerged from that country's self-storage industry. "Some of these operate within their self-storage facility, but others have become so big that branching out was necessary," he says.
Noticeable consolidation has occurred in the records-management industry in recent years, with three major players dominating the landscape. But that's not to say that there's no room for competition. "We find that as quick as an acquisition takes place, a new player emerges in that market filling the void," says Thomas. "We still think the industry is only on the tip of the iceberg."
Many operators don't think of security as a potential source of income, 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. "What you do is 'rent out' the security to the tenant. When you do, you replace the empty boxes with the real ones. With most systems, you have to buy the security system outright and hope you get your money back. In this case, you only install it 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 prevailing opinion remains that universal interface--a standardization of software protocol to allow any management software to automatically integrate with any security/access control system--will likely never exist in totality. "I'm a strong believer in universal integration," says QuikStor's Carner. "It would really make me happy to see that a person could buy any management software and any security system and tie the two together." But as Carner points out, there are too many forces at work that prevent universal interface from being in the best interest of the most important industry players.
Most companies' management software can be made compatible with any other company's security/access control system. This task is often undertaken on a case-by-case basis by a vendor--usually the second one to come into the picture--as a courtesy to a customer.
Empower Software's Smith says his company interfaces with all major security systems "as much as they'll allow us." But, he adds, "I think we're at the same old impasse. There are three standards out there now that are similar, but not completely the same. We would like to see universal interface, obviously, but I don't see it happening anytime soon, even though it would be better for the market in general if it happened. But we can understand the reluctance of the security providers in that they don't want to give any features away by making a standard."
Economics are a big reason companies like Empower don't press harder to make universal interface a reality. "You only have finite resources, and we would rather spend our resource money on improving and maintaining the leading edge in software than trying to divert into hardware, gate systems and so forth," says Smith.
But at least one vendor feels the absence of universal integration encourages buyers to place too much emphasis on "one-stop shopping" for management software and access-control hardware. "With one-stop shopping, there are some benefits when it comes to troubleshooting and assigning responsibility for problems," says Tom Garden, president of Syrasoft (formerly Automation Technologies), which produces the Storage Management System software package. "But some companies are good at hardware, and some companies are good at software. No one is very good at both, in my opinion. You really need to see that they are two very distinct entities.
"The consumer, when he is making this difficult decision about access-control and management software, really gets confused. The question you have to ask is, 'Do you want one company that does both in a mediocre or average way, or do you want to pick the best for both hardware and software?' Some people limit themselves in this way, and I think do themselves a disservice as a result."
Checklists for buying software typically 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. "Choose someone who's established and has a good Windows-installed base," says Syrasoft's Garden. "Many of the old companies that were and still are powerhouses in the DOS world either have not finished a Windows product that's viable, or have not put one out there that's really ready for prime time."
Research product offerings. Obtain demonstrator copies, references and brochures from several companies. Attending a tradeshow 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 websites.
Garden advises that customers ask vendors whether they can get a working demo, or if they'll only be shown some PowerPoint presentation. Plamondon of Integrity Software agrees. "I would recommend they get a demo copy of a piece of software. You can't really look at a brochure and say, 'Yeah, that's going to fit what I need to do.' If I was buying software, I would want to actually try it before I bought it--and not just glossies on a self-running demo." Plamondon says there's a big difference between a self-running demo and actually sitting down to a real-life demo that shows what the software can do for your particular facility.
About references: Getting input from other operators is never a bad idea. But remember: 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 red flags that may never arise in a salesman's demonstration.
"I would print out the reports, making sure they have real data in them," says Hecker of SMD Technologies. "Look at a bonafide paper copy of the reports--there should be about a dozen or so. The software should come with a printout of the reports, but if it doesn't, print a report through the demo CD-ROM and make sure it has some sample data in it. You don't want to print an empty report. It needs to have totals at the bottom. There needs to be explanations of terms on the reports every time you print a copy, so if you are not at the office and you wonder what a certain term means, you can see it at the bottom."
Ease of use is something most buyers will want to emphasize. "There are some people who get a little hung up on the features, and get lost when it comes to the ease of using the program," Carner says. "You definitely want something powerful, and something that can do the marketing and financial analysis that it takes to run a successful business. But you don't want something where your manager is constantly battling to understand what to do with the program, and your relief manager is lost."
The customizability of a program should also be examined, Hecker says. Does it customize to your late fees? How easy is it to change the interactive map? Being able to tailor a program to the unique nuances of your facility is important.
"People should use a program that adapts to them, rather than them adapting to the program," says Calvin Quayle of Quayle Computer Concepts, whose software package, SWAMP (Storage and Warehouse Asset Management Program), caters mainly to the small, independent owner/operator. "Even though I say that, there isn't a lot they can do to change (our) program. But we've written SWAMP with that in mind, so that they can do things in simple language and let the program do the work."
After-sale involvement is extremely important, vendors say. "Support is the number one key," says Sentinel's Reddick, whose company employs 10 dedicated support staffers. "Software is only going to work as good as the people who built it, but at the same time customers are going to have questions. You can't expect to just put a product in and never have a question about it. You've also got to have a good support staff customers can get to."
Customer satisfaction is the main goal of every software vendor's tech-support efforts, but there are different approaches. Most offer access via e-mail or a toll-free phone number, but some offer other methods designed for simplicity. Hawaii-based HI-TECH Smart Systems has devised a method that is not only easy, but provides the technician with maximum information at the time of the request. "Within our screen, a user can fill out a request for tech support," says HI-TECH President Michael Richards. "They hit the send button, and it comes right into our database. From our point of view, it saves a lot of time because we have all the information about their system we need relevant to our software, and are better able to help them."
Your present and future situation, as well as that of the software company, should also be strongly considered. 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?
A proliferation of programs has altered the marketplace in recent years, says Umbrella Systems' Stave. "Two years ago, we were one of 10 or 12 software companies," he says. "I'll bet there are 30 of them out there now. The market has been flooded. It's much more competitive and, as a result, I think everyone has been in a race to upgrade their programs."
Software packages are continually being improved by vendors, with new features being added and existing ones enhanced. A number of vendors are still in their infancy in the Windows operating environment, a fact that will require those vendors to stay current with improvements and upgrades.
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, are among the new bells and whistles expected in the near future. Further development of Windows software packages, dealing with bugs and incorporating enhancements as the Windows system itself evolves will also actively continue.
Interfacing with personal digital assistants such as the Palm Pilot are already materializing. Innovations such as touch-screen technology are also on the horizon, though its viability in many markets is uncertain. "I think, ultimately, that's where everything is going to head--away from the mouse and toward a touch-screen application," says Dilloware's Kelley. "It's expensive, but if enough people get on it, it could come down in a hurry."
To varying degrees, most vendors believe the future of self-storage software lies on the Internet, another advantage for the Windows system. Some say accelerated involvement of the Internet is still a few years away, but others are gearing up to grab the bull by the horns much sooner.
"We see it evolving now," says Smith of Empower Software. "At this time last year, it wasn't there in any measurable amount. But we're seeing more and more interest, primarily from larger, multifacility owners and corporations. We've taken that to heart, and we will be releasing this year a version of the program that will support that."
Empower has "major commitments to produce a very sophisticated Internet solution," Smith adds. "All I can say now is that it's going to be major--there's not going to be anything like it as far as we've been able to ascertain in reviewing the market trends ourselves."
Burlington, Mass.-based MicroTask Inc., which used to produce and support the Stor-Rite software package, recently shifted its entire focus toward its self-storage Internet portal, estorit.com. The site gives would-be self-storage customers an easy, one-stop method of locating a suitable site and reserving it without ever leaving their computer. To accomplish this, a handful of software vendors are including in their packages a piece of MicroTask-written code, enabling operators using those software packages to update their space inventory as shown on estorit.com.
"We have a lot of customers on with us right now who are dying for that feature, so it's to software companies' benefit to put it on," says MicroTask President Chris Capozzoli. "It's a nice, seamless way to get that information up on the web so people can reserve online--you don't have to worry about managing the database."
Capozzoli says MicroTask plans to provide self-storage customers with the ability to pay their rent online. Multifacility operators will even be able to provide their customers a link to the online payment service from their own websites. "That way, if they don't have an online inventory system like we do, they can use ours and park it right on their site," Capozzoli says. "So whenever they update the inventory to estorit.com, they're looking at the same data."
According to MSTC's Skrentny, an Internet product can be complex. "We're spending a lot of time creating the foundation and the blueprint for (an Internet solution) because we don't want to lose what we've currently got. It's a whole different environment--it has its own set of capabilities and limitations. In developing a new system, we want to be really careful. I think it's going to become an option, but I don't think it's going to be the right solution for everyone. Rather than replace the Windows program, it's going to be a viable option for businesses that want to gain in some areas but lose in others."
Syrasoft's Garden, however, offers more bridled enthusiasm about the Internet's prospects. "I'm sure it will be very real in three years, but today it's not what makes us money," he says. "We're doing web enabling of certain features like e-mailing of statements, using the web to get updates automatically--things like that. I'm sure we'll be there when the time is right, but right now I don't think the investment would be regained for quite some time."
Predicting the response of users, Garden adds, "If they're not forced off the Windows platform the way Windows forced people out of the DOS world, many of our current customers will be there forever. The web-enabled application is certainly two to three years away, and I think it will be kind of a new market at that time. I think the large chains will certainly be going that way."
Acorn Products/DCAL Computer Systems
4100 Adams Road, Suite C101
P.O. Box 3936
Bartlesville, OK 74006
Phone: 918.333.2996; 800.328.3225
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 operate on one computer simultaneously. The UNItroller system communicates to the UNIkey system who to lock out for nonpayment, and will automatically unlock them when their account is brought current.
Andrews Software Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Andrews Companies, boast 90 years of experience in the records-management and transportation industries. Andrews believes its experiences running commercial records centers and serving hundreds of customers enables it to provide proven quality software solutions to the information-management industry. The company uses these tools every day in its Cleveland and Columbus facilities. Its goal is to maintain a leading-edge position in the industry. Andrews Software products have a proven track record accommodating most (if not all) of the management and operating challenges in records management. These products include Visual Corporate Keeper®, a records center's "backbone"; and InfoKeeper®, an Internet solution giving clients total control of their databases through a web browser.
Dilloware has been providing storage facilities with easy-to-use, affordable billing software since 1981. The Billing ClerkTM automatically bills and tracks monthly rents, insurance, etc., and generates invoices, statements, late charges, past-due notices, receipts, multiple reports and much more. Unit availability is easily accessed. History is maintained for as long as needed for an unlimited number of units and customers. There is a large notepad for information on each (comments, credit card numbers, access codes, contact person, etc.). Technical support is provided by the people who actually developed the program, offering no long hold times or waiting for call-backs. The first year of support (up to 60 minutes) is included in the initial price of $599.95.
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 additional components for increased productivity as needed. This concept allows Empower to offer turnkey versions of Storage Commander to meet the needs of all management companies requiring advanced functions such as Internet facility control, manager security access based on a unique ID and password, photo ID 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
HI-TECH has been producing software for the self-storage industry since 1986. RentPlus is HI-TECH's self-storage software for Microsoft Windows. RentPlus was designed from the ground up to provide all of the features needed for self-storage today and in the 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 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
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 certified public accountant, and Ron Plamondon, a professional system developer, are well qualified to design, develop and support installation.
Mystic Systems Technology Corp. (MSTC)
7430 E. Butherus Drive, Suite A
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Mystic Systems Technology Corp. (MSTC) has been developing automated management systems for the self-storage Industry since 1984. MSTC offered one of the industry's first PC-based property-management software systems complemented by a billing-sensitive, PC-based security system. The company also offers 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 line of security hardware to meet all facility automation needs. MSTC also offers a one-of-a-kind Computer Based Training (CBT) system that offers complete on-site interactive property-manager training and testing tools.
Quayle Computer Concepts
3204 Cherrywood Lane
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Storage & Warehouse Asset Management Program (SWAMP) is the result of a father in the storage business and a son who is a programmer. Both have more than 20 years experience in their respective fields. It was a natural merger for Calvin and Gordon Quayle to combine this experience and create a software product specifically designed for the smaller operation at a reasonable price. The company takes pride in keeping its overhead low and listening to its customers. It will continue to add the features customers want. Quayle believes in software that fulfills its promise of making users' lives easier; helps users manage their business; is affordable; and saves money and time. The motto at Quayle Computer Concepts is "making computers work for you."
O'Neil Software Inc.
Irvine, CA 92618
Founded in 1981, O'Neil Software provides records-management solutions to more than 700 records centers in 37 countries. Through its corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif., and international offices in London and Brisbane, Australia, O'Neil has helped hundreds of people increase their opportunities in the commercial records-storage industry through superior software design, comprehensive barcode-tracking hardware and portable receipt printing. Committed to ongoing advancement, O'Neil invests a great deal of money in development, consistently providing its users with a top-notch software product.
QuikStor provides digital, wireless door-alarm security available with 20-plus years of battery life and long-range, spread-spectrum, 900MHz configurations to penetrate metal walls and unit contents. QuikStor has four years of wireless experience protecting more than 100,000 self-storage units. Permanently installed or rented to tenants on demand, QuikStor's wireless security can provide an outstanding return on owner investment. The company's access-control keypads allow delinquent tenants to use a credit card to pay at the gate. Keypads are designed to survive violent storms, vandal attacks and years of neglect. Video surveillance offers pan/tilt control, multiple-input display and time-lapse recording. The package allows a manager to instantly retrieve the images of the people who entered a gate code at any date or time. QuikStor's management software automatically collects tenant rent, e-mails invoices and provides marketing analysis to increase owner profitability. Installation packages are economical, professional and won't disrupt existing tenants. Call for a custom quote.
Real Management Systems offers a complete integrated system of management software, gate access, door monitoring and interactive graphics displays. Task Master is a user-friendly, Windows-based management software program designed to handle all aspects of a self-storage business. The client-based system simplifies management of collections on delinquent accounts, assigning multiple rentals, consolidation of billing, and a one-step payment process for single- or multiple-lease clients. Task Master manages merchandise sales, inventory, insurance and other income; and provides infinite client history with demographic and client profiling for use as a powerful marketing tool. Automatic functions for daily processing, FTP downloading, e-mail and accounting exports are included. Site Master interactive graphics are featured. Master Access System features a hard-wired Multiplexers alarm system. Master 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 the company for an operational demo CD.
Sentinel Systems Corp.
1620 Kipling St.
Lakewood, CO 80215
Phone: 800.456-9955; 303.242.2000
Sentinel Systems has provided security electronics and property-management software to the self-storage industry for more than 26 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 16,000 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 has been developing Windows-based software since the early days of the Windows operating system. The company's self-storage experience has led to the development of SiteLink, a powerful, user-friendly tool for managing storage operations. Unique features of SiteLink include the Task Master for tracking of deadlines and past-due events. Letters and the site map are unsurpassed in their flexibility and ease of use, SMD says, with documents and property map printable at any time. Users can automatically send reports and backups to other locations. SiteLink's e-mail capabilities allow management of data at home offices, archiving of backups anytime, and importing of data into QuickBooks.
Since Space Control's inception in 1984, President Ramona Taylor has kept the company's sights on providing a software-management package that would 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 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, Space Control has met the demand. The same philosophy has now been applied to Space Control II, the new Windows package.
Syrasoft, formerly known as Automation Technologies, provides state-of-the-art software for self-storage applications: the Storage Management System. Available in standard and professional editions, the system includes add-on modules such as gate interface, automatic credit-card billing, networking, inventory, personal digital assistant and photo capture. Syrasoft supplies the needs of small to large owner- or manager-operated facilities. The Storage Management System also interfaces with QuickBooks accounting software. A free 60-day trial is available on request.
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. New additions include: new site map, new checkbook, new P&L, balance sheet and new layout screens.