With 16 years experience in the development of professional software products, Tom Smith and Jeff Power know what is needed to design an intuitive graphical user interface that supplies vast amounts of information to the user quickly and easily.
Empower Software Technologies Inc. emerged on the scene in1998 with a software package aptly named Storage Commander, designed to take full advantage of Windows 32-bit graphical user interface and introduce to self-storage an exclusive first with its interactive sitemap. With the debut of a customizable sitemap, self-storage managers could view the unique layout of each facility and indicate each individual unit size and occupancy status.
The map also links to the database for an exceptional portal of visibility to each customer’s information. The user need only put the curser over a virtual unit, and tenant information is quickly identified in the Storage Commander’s Customer Information Panel, making it quick and easy to manage transactions and provide convenient, fast customer service. Staples advertises its “easy” button, but Storage Commander has always had it’s own version, called “end of day,” which allows the manager to press one button to close out the day’s activities, batching credit card payments, and printing all invoices, late letters and reports.
Leading the way with technology features, Storage Commander introduced the self-storage market to application-specific scanning, enabling users to insert customer information from driver’s licenses and banking information from credit cards and checks.
Although Storage Commander has enjoyed great success with the ushering in of various new technology, it does have a price. Finding the right technology option to meet the industry’s need takes timing and thoughtfulness. Such is the case when the company introduced its photo ID Kit, allowing photos to download into the program, instead of making a paper copy to put into a file. This tool enables managers to put a face to a name when looking at the Customer Information Panel. Plus, they can easily download additional photos such as pictures of tenants’ RVs, vehicle identification numbers and unit contents going to auction—all stored in one convenient place.
Over a decade, Empower has continued to foster numerous other program capabilities, featuring the ability to produce concise, accurate and meaningful reports that support a variety of management styles. Net Commander made it’s début in 2002 as another industry first when it enabled owners and management companies to remotely access and manage facilities, not just from a home office, but from anywhere they could connect with an IP address.
While Net Commander provided the ability to manage and produce reports without interrupting the facility, it also provided the functionality to implement rate changes, create or delete fees and discounts, establish and modify security settings for onsite managers, add notes to customer accounts and review tenant history.
In 2004 the company stepped into the spotlight again when it offered clients the ability to make online payments; now, self-storage tenants could click on the facility’s website to access their own account information 24/7 as well as make online payments at anytime without manager intervention.
Fingerprint scanning brought a new level of security and convenience for verification of managers and customers identity, allowing the system to locate accounts or authorize adjustments. The fingerprint scanner also paved the way for Storage Commander’s latest innovation: Quick pay, PayStation. This new system allows customers to process their own payments in less than 60 seconds. With a touch of a finger, the fingerprint scanner recalls tenants’ accounts, prompting them to choose the number of payments they want to make with a credit card. Once a card is swiped, a receipt is printed immediately. The process is quick, easy and fun for the customer, and fast, safe and secure for the owner.
Software plays an important role in running a storage facility successfully, providing thorough recordkeeping and tenant status information, but it must always re-invent itself to meet the ever-changing requirements of management companies, multi-facility owners and individual owners/managers. Under the Empower Software Technologies’ umbrella, Storage Commander continues to bring new technology to forefront, featuring ease of use and convenience, and promising success for its end-users throughout the self-storage industry.
For more information, visit www.storagecommander.com.