Today’s self-storage businesses are faced with intense competition and looking for ways to generate new business, reduce operational costs, increase margins and streamline processes. Growing market saturation and economic downturn has resulted in high pressure on companies’ bottom line. Self-storage operators are being more conscientious than ever, taking a closer look at their business data to make effective decisions.
Given these grueling challenges, it’s vital that the information used to monitor operational performance be accurate and timely. Access to business information is critical for self-storage operators to make informed decisions and react quickly to market conditions. Decision-makers should be able to view data in various formats, analyze information at an aggregate and detailed level, and view facts and figures as graphs, tables and other performance indicators.
The key to achieving this is business intelligence (BI) and analytics, which provide a holistic view of information with powerful viewing capabilities that help storage operators acquire a better understanding of market behavior and commercial context by extracting, analyzing and reporting data in the underlying operational systems. BI and analytics tools provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations.
A manager’s ability to make quick, informed decisions to improve the bottom line is accelerated with use of BI. The functionality provided includes reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), analytics, digital dashboards, data mining, business-performance management and predictive analysis. Some BI and analytics software vendors include MicroStrategy, BusinessObjects, QlikTech, Cognos and Microsoft.
To provide readers with views and insight from the self-storage industry perspective, the following two interviews demonstrate how storage operators are using BI and analytics software and how they expect to benefit.
Case Study: Stor-All
With more than 29,000 units spread over 44 locations in five states, Stor-All is one of the largest privately held self-storage companies in the United States. The company has a dominant presence in the Southeast market and a growing presence in several other regional markets. Stor-All conducted a thorough evaluation of some of the leading BI and analytics tools available in the market today.
Rolly Curtis, director of IT at Stor-All, elaborated on the thought process that went into making the decision to implement a BI and analytics tool, and how Stor-All is aiming to reshape its business based on the trends and analysis divulged by using the software.
What is the main objective in implementing BI and analytics software for Stor-All?
The first objective was to have a single SQL database containing all our stores’ information at our headquarters in Deerfield Beach, Fla. This was accomplished by converting our existing management data to a new management-software application.
Once the conversion was completed, we were able to start analyzing the data to show performance trends on specific stores―stores grouped by geographical area or those in a specific portfolio. It became apparent that while having access to all this information was awesome, we would have to build custom reports to take full advantage of it. At this point, we decided to look for an easier and more visual reporting tool that could be easily customized to analyze the different aspects of the information.