Revenue Management and Marketing Tracking
When it comes to managing any company, keeping track of revenue and marketing is critical. One way to accomplish this is through financial and operational reporting. This feature is one of the most popular attributes of SMD Software’s product, according to chief operating officer Markus Hecker. “[Its] easy-to-use revenue-management modules lets owners drive up rates gradually in any geographic region,” he says.
The popular rate-management feature for Space Control Inc.’s management software allows prices to be automatically raised for vacant units according to availability, and routinely raises existing renters on the manager's schedule, says company president Ramona Taylor.
Improving marketing techniques is important for branding purposes. Understanding this, the majority of software vendors have built-in components to track marketing. "Promotions, credits and discount controls are very important to self-storage operators," Bilton says. This is why one of Centershift's most popular features is its "Automated Rate Changes and Revenue Management." It allows the operator to grant future discounts, and track discounts including when they were give and the circumstances of the discount.
In the last year, Quikstor Security & Software, a company that offers both standalone and Web-based software, added a "Revenue Optimization Center" to give facilities the ability to create specials and discounts to boost revenue. “It allows facilities to build and customize an infinite combination of specials and discount plans,” says Tony Gardner, vice president. “The Report Center is a consolidated area to preview, schedule and learn about each report available in QuikStor Express. Integrated mail service, call center and more online aggregator partnerships continue to provide operators with the services they need.”
Having everything you need to provide the best service to your tenants across different mediums is convenient for self-storage managers, which is one reason cloud computing is becoming more popular. Cloud is a way of connecting all programs, data and storage resources through the Internet, allowing the program to be opened from any computer with Internet access.
This computing doesn’t require users to purchase hardware or software, and no training is needed, according to Mike Harley, president and chief operating officer of Smart Storage Concepts, a company that provides Web-based reservations solutions. The company's cloud-based "Software as a Service" is completely browser-based, allowing access to bookings, customer information, and reports from any Internet-capable computer. It’s compatible with most popular online payment systems, Harley says. Cloud can benefit self-storage businesses because it is "affordable, scalable, easy to implement [and is] leading-edge technology."
Space Control, a designer of software for 24 years, is moving its features to cloud. Before, this technology was not possible to make Web-based software that was user-friendly enough to meet operators’ standards, Taylor says. Newer technology is now available that was designed especially for cloud development.
Features to look for in the future include birds-eye-view graphical maps, automated e-mail follow-ups after customer inquiries, and a black-list tenant record that can be accessed by any store. Other software vendors are looking to add features where managers can link or de-link customers who have multiple units. Plus, more companies plan to add options for mobile devices, including pay functions, text messaging and expanding signature-capture payment options.
As technology continues to change, so will self-storage software—for customers and operators. Most software companies update their programs multiple times a year to keep pace with new technology.
“Over the past 25 years, our clients have been the driving force behind the development of our software,” Gardner says. “We are always reaching out to our customers to learn how the software can improve their operations, revenue and overall business.”
For their part, self-storage operators need to keep up-to-date with the rapidly changing technology to ensure they stay competitive and meet the needs of their customers. Adding friendly applications while controlling costs and increasing revenue through technology is one way to do this. “We are always seeking new and better ways to do what is necessary to have the best software in the world for self-storage operators, and this is our goal and passion,” Bilton says.