Teaching Self-Storage Managers to Use and Appreciate Facility-Management Software

Shaina Cossairt Comments
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For a self-storage owner, the decision to hire a new facility manager is the first step of a time-consuming process that involves placing ads, reviewing resumes and conducting interviews. Once a person has been chosen, the arduous task of training him to operate your facility begins. This is where quality management software stops wasting your time and starts saving it.

When evaluating self-storage software, the best way to start is by looking at the help tools your software provides. Even the most basic package should include help files pertinent to whatever screen you’re viewing.

For example, if your manager is attempting to take a payment, he should be able to click a help button and see relevant topics based on that screen. If he needs to link two units together, he should have access to a feature that will walk him through the process. More sophisticated software may even include video training throughout the program. This is a great tool that simplifies any operational procedure.

Though help menus and videos are useful when performing tasks that are new, what’s more important is the intuitiveness of the program. The layout should be simple and easy to understand for even the less computer-savvy manager. Think about the most common tasks a typical manager performs throughout the day—tenant move-ins and move-outs and taking payments. How difficult are those functions in your software? If your new manager can’t process a payment in just a few mouse clicks, you need to step back and evaluate your program.
 
Learning the Software

Some software packages include a feature most owners find invaluable when training new managers. It may go by a different name depending on the product, but most programs have what’s referred to as “training mode.” In this mode, managers can practice move-ins, take payments, run reports, make bank deposits, or practice other tasks relevant to the running of a facility.

The training aspect of the program uses the same interface and features as the program itself, but using a “dummy” set of tenants for training purposes. Once the training mode is closed by one user, the data is reset and ready to go for the next training session. This feature alone can save countless hours in frustration for you and your new manager.

As an owner, you’ll have access to every feature and function in your software, but do you really want your manager to have free reign too? Perhaps he doesn’t need access to certain reports or functions. Before you begin training, understand how your software restricts different levels of users. Except for the most basic programs, all software should offer some form of setup that allows you to pick the features or functions a user can access. Higher-end software will allow you to use and set up templates for various positions, such as manager, relief manager or area manager.

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