The Value of Web-Based Management Software in a Challenging and Changing Self-Storage Market

Markus Hecker Comments
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After replacing DOS systems in the late 1990s with a Windows platform, more self-storage operators are looking to newer software applications, including Web-based ones, to fill gaps in their aging Windows systems. As with most upgrades, storage operators evaluate the payoff from new software. What makes the new product an investment, not an expense? What is the value, the return on the investment?

Newer Web software applications reduce the cost of ownership and bring in rentals. How so? Web systems share information with other users and facilitate rentals. Unlike Windows programs, Web systems connect to other platforms in real time―platforms such as your website, call centers, kiosks and off-site users, which now offer services around the clock that were previously reserved to managers and limited to business hours. 

A User-Friendly Package

Today, most self-storage facilities have a website. That’s a good start because tenants increasingly rely on the Internet to find products and services and make purchases. Websites offer more information than phonebooks—they tell a facility’s story and engage customers by offering rates, specials, unit sizes and more. Google maps let clients visualize their way to your store and picture where they will be storing. Attractive websites grab customers’ attention; displaying pricing and specials in a smart way draws customers in so they reserve units online or by phone.

To get the most out of your online presence, your management software has to feed its rates, specials, availability and more automatically, without anyone’s action, and all in real time. The right software will offer tenants the same information and service via your website as your managers do in person or via phone, all in a user-friendly, inviting package.

With your management software connecting with your website, securely and in real time, prospective or existing tenants can: 

  • View prices or price ranges, including specials
  • Use coupons and view promotions
  • Select from a list showing availability of unit sizes and types
  • Reserve units and complete the move-in process
  • View their balance and payment history
  • Make payments by ACH/bank draft or credit card
  • Track inventory stored in their unit

Your management software can link to and exchange those and other items with your website, usually at no charge. Growing your online presence by combining your website with the right management software is easy and almost free and instant. 

Sharing Information Reaps Rewards

Self-storage management software can securely share information with other platforms such as kiosks to ensure the growing success of your company. “Information is a valuable asset,” says Robert Chiti, president and CEO of Opentech Alliance Inc., maker of the INSOMNIAC kiosk. “Owners should demand their management software securely share pricing, including variable rates, marketing questions, specials, and availability to gain a clear business advantage.”

To rent more units, more owners give tenants convenient access via websites, call centers and kiosks. In the past, rentals only took place at the counter. Older programs had to merely ensure managers could easily access unit inventory and pricing. Newer programs integrate and securely share data with these platforms to allow more consumer touch points and the information to reserve or rent units. Kiosks are only effective when interfaced directly to the property-management software to share information in real time. 

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