Are you thinking about retaining the services of a property-management firm to operate your self-storage business? Perhaps you’ve even narrowed your search to a couple of companies that charge similar fees, and you feel you could work well with either. Their services—hiring and training employees, marketing, advertising, customer service, facility maintenance, bookkeeping, accounting, etc.—all seem to mirror one another, so much so that you begin to wonder, "Is there really a difference?"
While many property-management companies may look the same at a glance, and even upon further investigation, not enough self-storage owners get to the real heart of the matter: the importance of reporting. How much and what specific information about your self-storage operations will the property-management firm report back to you? That’s the question that really needs to be asked … and answered. In fact, the answer may just be the tie-breaking decision maker for you.
It’s All in the Packaging
Some states have specific regulations and guidelines dictating what property management companies must report to self-storage owners regarding sites they manage. These regulations and guidelines are devised to protect you, the property owner.
For example, regulations may outline how property-management trust accounts are to be set up and who can be a signer on the account. These guidelines often outline the frequency of reporting and what should be included in the reports. Check with your state regulations first to review and familiarize yourself with regulations affecting your business needs.
When it comes to financial reports, you should expect to receive a full accounting package at least monthly. This package should include—at a minimum—an income/expense report, balance sheet and check registry. For many property-management companies, this information is processed in a generic accounting program, presented with a cover sheet and proceeds check.
If this is all you get, you may have many unanswered questions specifically detailing your facility’s operations. The void may mean you’ll have to spend a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of things.
Property-management firms that understand the importance of good communications and strong financial reporting will take a different approach when reporting back to you. These companies will prepare and deliver a full monthly package to you, typically within five to 10 days of the close of business on the last day of the month. Professional companies will also report to you on a weekly basis via the Internet or other form of communication. Some even utilize software that you can access anytime to receive real-time live updates.