Your management program should also allow you to do business online. Some operators believe it’s OK to have a website but not list rates or allow reservations/rentals on the Web. If that’s still working for them today, I’m pretty certain it won’t be in the (very near) future. Think of your own online-shopping experiences. What do you do when you come across a business that doesn’t give you the information you want? … Click.
At a minimum, your management software should integrate with your website so prospective customers can view current rates and availability and reserve a unit. There should be a continuous two-way flow of information between your software and your website, so if you decide to change rates, your website will be updated immediately. If prospective customers shopping after hours (when it’s convenient for them) want to reserve an available unit, they can do so, and your managers will be alerted the next morning.
In addition, existing customers should be able to manage their accounts. The program should enable them to make payments from the convenience of their own computer, and the gate system will be updated and allow them access. You get the idea.
With respect to online rentals, even experienced operators who understand the importance and value of doing business via the Internet are still debating the right thing to do because there are security and other important management considerations. However, regardless how you prefer to operate your business, your management software should support online rentals so you at least have the option.
Ablility to Interface
Your management software should have all the necessary interfaces to communicate with the other software programs and management tools you employ in your business operation. As the saying goes, if one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, you’re going to have problems.
The best example of this is your gate and access system. Sure, you can update these manually each time a customer rents a unit, becomes delinquent or makes a payment, but is that really what you want to do? More important, what if you forget or don’t do it promptly? Your customer doesn’t get through the gate, isn’t happy, etc.
The online-payment scenario described earlier is another example when considering a gate-interface program. There are other important interfaces to consider such as:
- Credit card processing. This eliminates the need for an external machine and speeds up transactions.
- Kiosk. It won’t help your customers if it’s not communicating properly with your management program.
- Listing services. Your prospective customers won’t see accurate information about unit availability, rates and specials if the listing services aren’t linked directly to your software.