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Five Questions With John Bilton, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Centershift Inc.


Last summer Centershift Inc., provider of STORE self-storage management software, acquired RentPlus, the software produced by Hi-Tech Smart Systems Inc. Inside Self-Storage caught up with John Bilton, Centershift’s vice president of business development and marketing, to discuss what the acquisition means for operators using RentPlus, what operators should look for in software program, and what’s on the horizon for management software.

1. Tell us about the changes at Centershift.

This has been an exciting time for Centershift. For the first time in memory, we’re experiencing consolidation in the rental-management software category. We’re excited to welcome RentPlus customers to our family of clients.  

Centershift was honored to be chosen by Hi-Tech’s president Mike Richards as the one company with the technology and resources to cover such issues as PCI-compliance, secure online payments, and seamless integration into other technology platforms. We really think Mike said it best: “In our industry, Centershift clearly stands as a technology leader.”

Centershift has introduced 34 industry firsts, and once again, we’re leading out with the first acquisition in the rental-management software category.

2. How will this affect self-storage operators using either software program?

There will be no affect for our current Centershift clients. We have the infrastructure and capacity to absorb the RentPlus client base and additional clients we’re gaining through our traditional growth. 

For RentPlus clients, it does mean change. We’re supporting that change with the help of Hi-Tech and its current employees. This coordinated effort is allowing for the highest quality data-conversion package ever offered to clients coming onto a new software package. Centershift and Hi-Tech have partnered to streamline conversion from RentPlus to Centershift. We’re offering historical RentPlus transactions within the Centershift platform. This is unheard of in the industry.

3. Changing management software is a huge undertaking. What advice do you have for operators?

Our key advice is patience. Changing habits and learning a new platform does take time and effort, but we anticipated this on the part of site mangers and are offering webinars and online training materials free of charge for all RentPlus sites. This unique method of self-paced learning coupled with 12-hour phone support allows owners and operators to learn the new system quickly. Live instructor lead training is also available onsite if desired.

4. Are facility operators becoming more tech savvy? What are they looking for in a software program?

Facility operators are becoming much more tech savvy. We see them taking advantage of technology to increase operational performance and the number of tenants walking through the door.  Centershift was the first software vendor to introduce an integrated platform for reservation services, call centers, kiosks, Web payments and reservations. Facility operators see the value in leveraging their rental-management software to increase rentals and improve operations.

5. What’s on the horizon for self-storage management software?

Centershift sees an ever-increasing number of rentals being executed online. Marketing for tenants is moving to the electronic media; no longer do people do their shopping via the Yellow Pages. They shop online for products and services. Having a strong online presence and establishing value-added services will be key components of an integrated technology strategy for self-storage operators.

Having a platform that can bring all of this together will allow some to win a greater number of customers than others. Customer-relationship management is part of the online model. This can be for a static and mobile environment, capturing the right online data and analyzing the data will lead to more rentals for those who are willing to embrace technology. 

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