Consolidated Software Solutions

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In the past, multifacility self-storage operators had to deal with the frustration of running separate, unrelated copies of their management software at each of their sites. There were no options for operating multiple facilities from a consolidated database. But industry software has changed. New solutions on the market provide distinct advantages to storage owners and their employees.

For instance, you now have instant access to information for all sites in a single format and can print up-to-the-minute reports at any time. There’s no need for cumbersome programs that fuse information (and create potential problems). With a centralized database, all of the data is live and inclusive of all transactions at every site. Another big benefit is system maintenance. Backups and other routine tasks are done on a single database, not several.

A Case Study

Let’s take a look at how a consolidated-database, or “enterprise,” solution works in the real world. Hide-Away Storage Services LLC operates 10 traditional self-storage facilities and two mobile-storage facilities in Southwest Florida. Before converting to an enterprise solution, it ran a separate installation of its management software at each location, which created a number of communication problems, particularly when it came to management reports.

Now, consolidated reporting allows Hideaway’s managers to quickly react to market conditions and to make informed decisions. “We can now see all of our locations on a single database in real time, which has tremendous advantages for us and our customers,” says resident manager Terry Anstett. “I expected to see this type of result, and I’m very happy with our success and the level of satisfaction reported by our managers. We’re saving time and money.”

Hide-Away rents its mobile-storage units through all of its traditional storage locations but stores them at a central facility. The company needed a way to manage the process. A consolidated database was the ideal solution. According to Mike DeYoung, chief data-processing manager, “This customer-centric solution resolved almost all of our communication issues. We are very happy with our result.”

Database integrity was also an important concern. Running file-based systems on multiple PCs presented reliability issues. Using Microsoft’s robust SQL-database engine eliminated the risk and provided an extremely solid and reliable infrastructure.

“Centralized reporting and auditing has brought some exciting new features and control,” says Gary Crawford, Hide-Away’s chief operating officer. “Now that all of the data for our sites is stored in a central repository under control of the main office, reliable backups can easily be performed and monitored for accuracy and completeness by a competent professional.” And the company reports another big advantage: It uses its real-time information to quickly and intelligently adjust prices at each of its locations.

Hide-Away implemented an enterprise solution in an effort to resolve the dilemmas created by running separate database installations at each site. Not only was it able to solve these problems, it now enjoys additional business benefits.

Steven Hyman is president of DHS Worldwide Software Solutions, which provides enterprise MS-SQL self-storage management software. DHS services some of the largest operators in the self-storage and mobilestorage industries. It also offers solutions for records management, wine storage, asset management and other businesses. For more information, call 800.377.8406; e-mail shyman@dhsworldwide.com; visit www.dhsworldwide.com.

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