By Mel Holsinger
All the options for computer and manually generated management reports in self-storage can become an overload of information, but can also provide a perfect understanding of how a business is operating. We need industry-specific reporting if we want to fully understand how we’re doing in terms of operational efficiency and financial standing. Your management reports help you know if you’re making the right decisions to maximize your facility’s profitability.
Let’s take a look at the various reports available and evaluate how the information can help you improve your self-storage business.
Most self-storage management software programs can create a number of basic reports that are easily accessible by facility owners. Let’s first look at operational reports.
At a minimum, these reports should show the facility’s number of occupied and vacant units. You should also be able to quickly see your occupancy rate (rented units divided into available units) so you have a feel for what space you have left to sell. Getting a bit more sophisticated, categorize each of your unit sizes by occupancy rate, and then determine which customers are current and delinquent on rent. These three things—occupied, vacant and occupied but delinquent—are the primary pieces of information that can help you make future business decisions.
You should also generate a report by unit size that shows the actual rate customers are paying vs. your “board” or asking rate. This becomes more important the longer you’re in business because if you have customers who are paying substantially below the asking rate, you may want to consider raising their rent to increase your cash flow and, ultimately, profitability.
The report that shows your occupied but delinquent status is important because it lets you know how and when you may need to deal with these customers. Some tenants may simply require a generated billing statement to let them know they’re past due. As they become longer delinquent, you may need to remove them from your property via the lien-sale process. Knowing your tenants’ payment status can also help you determine other things such as expected cash flow or losses of income, and can help you determine the direction you need to take.
Other important operational reports include a ZIP-code analysis, which can show where your customers come from, and a report showing your percentage of residential vs. business customers. You may even want to break down this analysis to determine if your residential customers come from single-family or multi-family dwellings. Business customers can be divided into groups such as service, retail, industrial, etc. All this information can be helpful when it comes to marketing your facility and determining which advertising methods work best in your particular market.
Another important report is one that gives you information about your competitors. If you know their rates, facility features and the distance between your sites, you can make numerous decisions including marketing strategies, pricing, adding or omitting features, etc. The more you know about your competitors, the better prepared you’ll be to effectively compete with them for new customers.
The operational reports discussed above can give you a wealth of information to better understand what drives your business, and can be valuable in determining how you’ll operate. Keep in mind there are many more pieces of data you may want or need, but the basic reports described above will give you a good feel for your overall operation.