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Inside Self-Storage Magazine 11/99: Ask The Waldmans

April 1, 1999

4 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 11/99: Ask The Waldmans

Choosing is Confusing

DEAR WALDMANS: I am the proud new owner of a self-storage facility. It has truthfullybeen an experience in developing all the essential elements that go into a storagefacility. The facility is approximately 50,000 square feet, and will have a residentmanager. As of now, I want my tenants to be able to have 24-hour access to their units.The manager that I have hired to fill the position has a background in sales and is greatwith people and numbers. My dilemma is down to which software to choose. Choosing aprogram really makes me nervous. Being new at all of this, I truly am afraid I willpurchase the wrong program. After coming this far, it is very important that I feelcomfortable with the software and that it meets my expectations. First, how do I findsoftware packages for storage facilities? Second, are there certain items I need toinvestigate more than others? Third, what will really give me the feeling I have chosenthe right program? Please give me some feedback on what, how and why on this very delicatechoice. Your insight will be greatly appreciated.

--CHOOSING IS CONFUSING

DEAR CHOOSING IS CONFUSING: As you have found out, it is extremely hard but rewardingwork to start your own business. You are not alone in discovering it seems as equally hardto choose a software program. After all, the program you choose operates the entirefacility. A good source of locating programs is the Internet, or by attending aself-storage tradeshow where you can demo numerous programs on site.

First, take time to determine exactly what you expect out of a program. For certain,you will want the software you choose to be beneficial for your tenants, manager andaccountant. Think about what it can do for you beyond the normal aspects of the day-to-daybusiness.

Make sure to choose at least three vendors to give you a demo of their program. Askabout the ability of day-to-day operations of a facility. Make sure the salesrepresentative is knowledgeable. Ask a lot of questions, such as: What is their length oftime in the business? How many facilities do they service? What type of support will theygive you, and what are the fees for this support? After asking a few questions, you willbe able to determine just how much wisdom they have to back up their product.

You may want to call a few of the vendors' current customers to obtain their opinionson the software and their comments. Nothing is quite as effective as advice from ahands-on user of the product. Question the ability of the system to run reports and offerself-help. Likewise, make sure an operations manual is available. Running data statisticsfrom month to month or comparing year to year is extremely useful.

Determine how the product handles client information, from completing the leaseagreement to the receipt of monies to tracking payments, late fees, move outs, orgenerating letters for different incidents. Does it handle insurance if you collect thefees for the insurance company? Go over the accounting viewpoint and envision how you andyour accountant will be able to deal with this part of it. If you have installedelectronic gates, will it be compatible, and how does it work? Do you have the option ofcharging for extended or 24-hour access? What about the security system? The list goes onand on.

A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.

E-mail: [email protected]; Web: www.askthewaldmans.com

Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

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