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Guidelines for Choosing the Right Self-Storage Management Software

David Essman Comments

There once was a time when selecting management software for a self-storage business simply meant choosing from a handful of vendors. They all did a good job of offering similar features at similar costs. Now, the number of providers has increased considerably. There are more features, and the cost difference between the many types of software on the market are a bit broader, making the choice more complicated and time-consuming.  

For those embarking into this industry for the first time, consider your needs and business practices before purchasing a software package. Is your objective to simply provide your manager an organizational tool with which to track tenant names, unit numbers and addresses? Maybe you’d like a more practical and efficient way to print notices, charge monthly rents and late fees. Or, you might be a report addict and require reports for everything.

Construct a list of features you feel your business may need, keeping in mind the skill level of the managers operating the program. The right manager and software combination will complement each other and increase efficiency with the least amount of problems. This could mean fewer telephone calls to you and more accurate reporting for your accountant.
Getting Started

First, you need to consider the PC requirements of the management program. If you plan to use an existing PC, consider its age, operating system, onboard storage devices and the storage media it currently uses to back up data. If you intend to purchase new equipment, you should still review the program requirements and know exactly what is expected of you and your computer.

You should also determine the difficulty of the program configuration. Some reputable providers will help with the initial setup and customization of their products. This could be accomplished several different ways. It’s critical for your provider to offer help with this setup process. I have come across numerous operators who were left alone during this process and crucial settings were never completed. The results included missed late fees and mailings and, the most common oversight, taxes incorrectly accessed.
Growing Your Business

Another critical consideration is whether the chosen software will grow with your business. If you change unit rates, numbers, late fees or lien configurations because your occupancy increases or your state laws change, can your software adapt? How complicated will it be? These answers will depend on the program you purchase.

This brings us to my next point: What kind of security is built into the program to prevent someone from arbitrarily changing crucial settings? When your property assesses late fees or places a tenant in overlock or lien status, this configuration is usually regulated by state laws and described in your lease agreement. Password protection within the program should only allow authorized personnel to make these changes, while at the same time preventing someone from accidentally or intentionally making system changes and placing you and your business at risk.

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