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May 1, 1998
Facility Management Software
By Jeff Sacks
There's a helpful tool out there called the computer, and if you're not using one torun management software designed to take care of many of your daily tasks and make yourlife easier, you may be more married to your site than need be. Indeed, marriage is agreat institution, but when was the last time your self-storage site cooked dinner orhelped with the dishes or gave you a massage after a hard day's work?
Do you ever lie awake in bed wondering if everyone using your self-storage units ispaying on time or getting extra days free at your expense? Did all the appropriate tenantsreceive the most recent rent increase? Are employees dipping into the till? Does the unitmix need adjusting? Which marketing methods are bringing in the most tenants? Goodself-storage management software programs can answer these questions and more.
As a matter of fact, there are industry software packages that will efficiently managemany, if not all, important aspects of a facility, thereby freeing up a manager's time.There is accounting software that does on-site tenant accounting, the printing of theleases and deposit tickets, the processing of late-charge notices, the issuing of profitand loss statements, as well as tracks everything from an accounts-receivable standpointfor a self-storage business.
There is management software with features such as automatic, overnight posting ofrents; printing of late letters; pre-liens; liens; issuing any bills and reports that needto be run on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis; as well as recordingevery transaction during a customer's history and tracking where everybody is assigned andhow much money they owe.
What's more, software companies also offer gate-access control systems that offerpay-at-the-gate and automatic rent collection by credit card, so that tenants who aredelinquent and come to the gate can pass their credit card through and have their rentautomatically deducted from their account and deposited directly into the facility's bankaccount.
The overall benefits of the three different types of software available forself-storage facilities generally fit into five categories: increased accuracy ofoperations, increased revenue, theft deterrent, more detailed management reporting andmore efficient use of time.
Computers don't accidentally reverse numbers or make mistakes in calculations. Inaddition, they provide consistency. For example, during move-ins, software ensures thatmanagers go through the same steps and ask the same questions of every tenant when keepingtrack of their history at the facility.
When a manager goes around on an inspection, he carries around with him a report thatdetails the units that should be vacant, moved into or will be vacated soon. By using anaccurate management report, a manager will know exactly what their occupancy should be,down to the very unit.
"We made sure that our software was designed with proper checks in the system thatwould make it impossible to have people putting money in their pocket instead of in thecash register," says Ron Plamodon, president, Integrity Software Systems Inc., aTraverse City, Mich.-based firm providing accounting software to the self-storageindustry. "With our system, by doing some very minor checks, you can be realcomfortable about all the cash staying where it belongs, either intentionally oraccidentally. It is impossible for somebody to make mistakes that don't get caught becausethere are financial reports that need to be balanced with what goes in the bank.
"By doing these checks on a daily basis, the owner narrows the window for amistake to take place," adds Plamodon. "It makes it much easier for him tocontrol the facility."
Another feature that ensures software provides up-to-the-minute accuracy is tracking afacility's business in real time, meaning you don't need to wait until the daily close toget updated numbers and figures. Therefore, if you had two computers running at the sametime, and people were renting units, your vacancy numbers and occupancy rates would changeas the transactions happen.
Increased revenue can come from a variety of sources, including rent increases and latefees, as well as analyzing the facility's profit centers. With late fees, the computermakes the manager seem like less of a villain when trying to collect. It's easy to say,"The computer charges a late fee. There's not much I can do about it." So theburden is taken away from the site manager and placed on the computer, enabling the sitemanager to collect more late fees.
"Computer-controlled access allows entry only to those people who should be onyour property," says Doug Carner, marketing director of QuikStor, a Sherman Oaks,Calif.-based management software provider. "Our gate readers include a 12-buttonkeypad and a long-life magnetic card reader similar to those used at gas stations. Thisprovides the familiarity of keypad access and the hassle-free flexibility of tenants usinga personal identification card. Tenants can have more than one access code, several unitson one code, and access days and hours on a per-tenant basis. With this type of setup,managers can take control over delinquencies, allow extended hours for select customersand set or change gate-access hours and days on a per-tenant basis."
With gate-access control, tenants are announced as they enter the facility, and thetime and duration of their visit is added to their permanent record. "When delinquenttenants try to access the gate, they are kept out of the facility," says Carner."The QuikStor gate can accept the tenant's credit card for payment. No headaches forthe manager, and instant payment of rent and late charges for the owner."
Poulsbo, Wash.-based Umbrella Systems Inc.'s software package, "was originallywritten to reconcile cash-base revenue with accrued revenue, to track potential income allthe way down to cash in the bank and to tell the manager what each point of difference isbetween the actual money that wound up in the bank and the potential income," saysPhil Rasmussen, president. "It allows you to audit each category along the way andreveal why your late fees charged are different from your late fees collected or why yoursales taxes charged are different from your sales taxes collected."
"Our focus is not only offering the best software for records management, butoffering people business tools that help people make money," says Jim Teske, salesmanager for O'Neil Software Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based software company specializing inrecords storage. O'Neil helps people in the self-storage business get into recordsstorage. "We've probably got nearly 100 customers who were in the self-storageindustry who have gotten into commercial archiving. We have regional classes worldwidewhere we teach them about the industry and other profit centers that are related to theself-storage business."
When it comes to theft, with a manual system, it's all too easy for a dishonest managerto manipulate the numbers. "I could tell you 100 different ways to rip off a manualsystem," says Mike Richards, president of Kailua, Hawaii-based Hi-Tech, a firmspecializing in self-storage management software. "Most software comes with controlsbuilt in for stopping those problems."
With Plamodon's software, an owner can discover quickly if they've got a manager who isallowing some of his friends to use space at no charge, or if they have somebody puttingstuff into a unit that they weren't aware of and not paying for it.
One Southern California facility discovered that it could use its software features tolessen its vulnerability to another type of theft. After being robbed twice on the firstof the month, the facility switched to anniversary due dates. The owners believed that thetheives knew the facility collected a lot of money around the first of the month, and withthe switch, even if they were robbed again, the culprit would make off with asubstantially lighter haul.
"Operators use a first-of-the-month billing system because that's all they havetime to handle," says Carner. "They do not appreciate the benefits of ananniversary system, which would allow them to not have a lot of cash in the office at oneparticular time and save them a lot of money if they were to get robbed."
In addition to having a software package that affords owners the luxury of going to ananniversary system for billing, QuikStor offers wireless alarms, which are easy to installin both new and existing facilities and require no special tools for doing so. "Thereis no wiring to install, and thus nothing that will corrode or be tampered with,"says Carner. "These are the same wireless door sensors already in use at the U.S.armed forces, Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, CIA, FBI and over three millionother doors worldwide."
With a solid security and control system tied into a solid management software package,a self-storage facility can protect itself against tenant theft and break-ins by forcingtenants to pay on time, locking out those whose accounts aren't up-to-date, keepingcurrent on the status of individual units and offering wireless alarms.
Management reports are one of the most useful tools management software provides.They're quick, they're accurate and they can point out the weaknesses and strengths of afacility. They can be especially useful to multi-facility operators. "Owners andmanagers make their business decisions on all of the pieces of information they getthroughout their days, whether it's occupancy information or pricing information orreceivables status," says Richards. "So the more information they get and thebetter organized that information is, the better they're able to run theirbusinesses."
Good management software allows owners and managers of self-storage facilities to knowexactly how their business is doing vs. the way they thought it was doing. With interfacesto the gate-access control software and the accounting software, management programs canissue useful reports of many varieties. "It just helps the manager keep track ofexactly who's where, who owes them, who's late, how many days they are late, what the latecharges are and so on," says Bruce Pollack, co-partner in Lafayette, N.Y.-basedAutomation Tech- nologies, which provides management software. "You can printstatements from the system. You can send late letters. You can add late charges."
Other management software allows its users to "track multiple contracts within oneaccount, including individualized late and letter cycles, fees, invoices, access andsecurity levels, and unlimited reporting capabilities," says Mike Skrentny, presidentof Scottsdale, Ariz.-based MSTC. "Our Account Manager System configuration offersgreat flexibility for operating your business the way you like. Hundreds of differentcombinations allow you to dictate the specific characteristics of your property, asdefinable, multi-leveled general ledger accounts that allow you to pullaccounts-receivable data from the same source for generating reports for differentpartnerships or management companies.
What's more, since operating a facility means more than just collecting fees, firmsoffer software that issue computerized reminders for special tasks. "The remindermodule can be used for a variety of different situations requiring a little extraassistance," says Skrentny. "This may be routine events like schedulinglandscapers to scheduling specific management functions on site, such as a facilitywalk-through and preventative maintenance checks."
In almost all the work that the manager does--whether it's creating reports, crunchingnumbers or writing late notices--time is of the essence. In all those tasks, computershave an unshakable edge over manual systems, completing what can amount to hours of workin just minutes. "It puts on the computer all the things that they used do by justleafing through their card files and taking hours and hours," says Pollack. "Nowthey can do all of those tasks very quickly.
"Managers can make sure that their tenants are billed correctly," Pollackadds. "They get the information very quickly because they don't have to go throughstacks of papers and what not. They can punch up units, people and customers very quicklyto find out what the status is."
In addition, managers can analyze such things as unit mix to adjust pricing. If thelarger units are in higher demand with lower turnover, they may bear larger or morefrequent rent increases than the other sizes. While such determinations are possiblemanually, they are far more time consuming. With a computer, it's a matter of pushing afew buttons and letting the program do all the work.
"Reports can be generated the night before the scheduled date on which they are tooccur, so that the manager doesn't even have to show up for work," says Carner."Delinquency control, rent collection and reports happen unattended."
Absentee owners can be assured that their on-site managers are doing a good job becauseof the security and accuracy of the software. "You don't have to be there all of thetime watching things as closely as you might need to if you were using a manualsystem," says Plamondon. Imagine being able to enjoy life away from your facility forthe price of a software program.
Other programs have designed their customer areas so that all managers have to do ispull up the customer once to take care of anything in the account. "You don't need togo in and out again and ask them their names and enter their unit numbers," saysCapozzoli. "You can take multiple payments. You can move them into other units. Youcan move them out. You can transfer them. You can give them credits. You can print theirhistory. Everything is managed from that area, which speeds up the front endenormously."
DOS still dominates self-storage software, but most companies have a Windows 95 versionof their software available, and many more are about to launch their Windows applicationsthis year. Given that a Windows 95 operating system is pre-installed on just about everyPC that hits the mass market, everyone who's using a computer for the first time islearning to operate it within the Windows environment. This also means that most softwaredevelopers are designing their programs to work with Windows, and self-storage managementsoftware vendors are moving in that direction, as well.
"Most everything in this business from a self-storage standpoint has all beenDOS," says Dave Reddick, president of Sentinel Systems, a Lakewood, Colo.-based firmspecializing in management software. "And there are now a couple of Windows programson the market for self-storage. Windows truly will bring more features and capabilities torunning a storage facility than you were able to do with DOS."
A tell-tale sign that the industry is moving toward Windows and away from DOSapplications is indicated in Phil Rasmussen's customer information: "Two-thirds ofour new customers are purchasing Windows, but 90 percent of our total customers are usingDOS. People are converting."
"We have a lot of customers still using the old DOS program who have chosen not toupgrade to the Windows," says Michael Kelley, president of New Braunfels, Texas-basedDilloware Inc., "but our new sales are 90 percent Windows."
Meanwhile, Ramona Taylor, president of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Space Control Systemssays Windows accounts for 75 percent of her business.
One of the most useful functions of the Windows environment is multi-tasking--theability to run more than one program at the same time. "I personally have a verystrong belief in Windows because of the fact that it can run your gate in the backgroundwhile you do other things," says Carner. "As an example, let's say that you runa Ryder truck rental or U-Haul at the same place you're running your software. If you'rein a DOS program and you switch over to this other program, your mini-storage software mayno longer be listening to the gate activity, whereas a true Windows program runsseamlessly in the background."
What's more, much of the computer technology that managers may want to use--such asfaxing via computer, e-mailing rent reminders and Internet access--are possible onlythrough Windows.
Die-hard DOS fans will find that Windows takes some getting used to. Even finding theright touch for moving the mouse pointer around can be challenging for some people, butit's inevitable that they will have to learn to use it.
"The Windows environment is just different," Reddick says. "The programsrun differently, and you can do different things all at the same time. It's an easier and,to some degree, a more efficient way to run your business. People who have grown up on DOSand haven't done anything on Windows are going to struggle a little bit. But the realityis if they want to go out and buy a program for other kinds of uses to put on theircomputer--Quick Books or whatever they might decide to buy--it's probably only going to beavailable to them in Windows. And they're going to end up buying Windows programsanyway."
It goes without saying that hardware requirements for running Windows instead of DOSare vastly different. The best way to ensure you have the necessary computer power to runthe management software of your choice is to consult with your software vendor. He cantell you minimum and recommended hardware requirements for programs, and can probably helpdetermine whether your existing system is up to snuff. Basically, any new PC purchase withWindows 95 comes with enough memory to run any self-storage management software, but it'salways best to ask.
"I think most of the DOS stuff that's out there would require less than 10megabytes on the hard drive and would probably run fine with 1 megabyte of RAM,"Reddick says. "But you're not going to run any Windows program with probably lessthan eight megabytes of RAM. Because there is so much overhead in Windows software, youalso need a machine that's fast, otherwise you're going to sit there and wait and wait andwait."
Despite the Windows brouhaha, all vendors emphasize that they will not abandon theirDOS customers. As more Windows programs hit the market, they will continue to sell andsupport their DOS programs.
One of the side effects of all this computer power is that it gives programmers awide-open door for beefing up features. That may mean improving existing functions orcreating new ones that the older machines cannot support. "The requirements tooperate the Windows 95 platform means increased computer power, and that increasedcomputer power in terms of the RAM memory and the hard-drive memory means that we have alot more capability and flexibility that we can put into the programs," Skrentnysays. "There have been a lot of functions and features that people have wanted withDOS applications that frankly we were either not able to provide or not able to provide inan adequate manner to really meet the customers' needs. Changing the systems over toWindows is allowing us to do that."
Windows isn't the only technological advance software suppliers are working on. Vendorsare flexing their programming muscles in a variety of directions. Some new features arestill being bandied about, while others have already made their debut. New and forthcomingoptions include the following:
Automated credit-card billing enables operators to automatically charge rent to the tenant's credit card each month.
Digital cameras require no film as the image goes directly into the computer. It can be used to photograph units before auction, to keep the tenants' photos on file in the computer or any other photographic need of the facility.
Pay-at-the-gate systems allow tenants to pay rent with a credit card as they enter the facility. It's an easy way for past-due tenants who are locked out of the gate to get current without leaving their car.
Industry Expertise is a system built into the software that prompts the manager; for example, during move-in, letting him know the appropriate time to suggest ancillary products to the tenant.
Electronic commerce takes form in on-line banking, where direct deposits from the tenants' account go right into the facility owners' account. It would be a credit-card type transaction where the owner would electronically transmit receipts to the bank, and this would in turn debit the tenant's account and credit the facility.
"One of the things that may be coming down the line, if you really want to go futuristic, would be some sort of fingerprint identification as part of gate systems," adds Carner.
The concept of a universal interface has bounced around the industry for several years.Such an interface, which would allow any security system to interface with any managementsoftware system, poses obvious benefits to the storage operator. But, perhaps the best wayto describe it is much ado about nothing. While not a new concept, it certainly isnoteworthy. It seems that everyone thinks it's a commendable idea, and theorizes on howbest to implement it, but turning theory into reality thus far has met with littlesuccess.
Although most vendors say they have advanced the idea of a generic interface, thereality is that security providers and management-software providers still have to work ona one-to-one basis to make their systems compatible. "It would be a wonderful idea ifwe could just get all the software management firms and security firms to agree,"Taylor says.
"The problem is it's very difficult to get multiple companies with multiplemindsets and multiple egos to agree on anything," Skrentny explains. "Part ofthe problem is everybody has different ideas, and there's never been any real meeting ofthe minds as to what the proper way to approach it would be. You run into problems when agroup of people decides that universally, this is how an interface should work, and ithampers or deters your application from doing what it needs to do."
For now, most software companies have separate interfaces for each security system theywork with. And some companies offer both management software and security. The upside tothat is guaranteed compatibility. The downside is that both systems may not have all thefeatures the operator wants.
Taylor says that one of the questions people need to ask when shoppingmanagement-software vendors is what security systems they interface with. "People askme all the time at trade shows," she says. "So we have a little list we hand outof which security systems Space Control interfaces with."
Keeping in mind one thing: If you buy a security system from a local company--one whodesigns systems for estates, etc., it shouldn't be assumed that the system will interfacewith your management software. "In order to have an interface like that work, the twocompanies involved have to work very closely together, and it just isn't very practical ona one-shot thing," Taylor says. "So if you want it interfaced, you want to buyboth sets of software with vendors that service the self-storage industry. Space ControlSystems introduced a generic interface. If all management software used this same file, acustomer could purchase any management software and any security system and they wouldwork together."
But Taylor adds that lacking that management/security interface "is not the worstthing in the world. It's just that if you're getting computers and automating the process,most people prefer to automate as much of it as they can. People who have bought thatlocal gate system, are not about to rip it out and start over."
Basically, it's up to the facility operator to decide how important it is for his needsto have that integration between management software and security, and to keep that inmind when shopping for software. As for Carner, he envisions a day when mixing andmatching management software with security will be as easy as buying electronics. "Ihave a dream that one day there will be a consistent format where you just literally takepieces, in the same way that a VCR and television set (work together)," Carner says."You never think, do these two work together? You always presume they will. I'd liketo see the same thing in the self-storage industry. I'm hoping technology pushes itthere."
Operators who are convinced that management software can benefit their facility face adifficult task in selecting the right system. Chances are, once a system is purchased, theuser will stick with it for a long time. After all, who wants to input data on 700 unitsonly to learn that the program doesn't do everything it was intended to do? Then you'restuck either settling for the existing system or investing in a new program and goingthrough the input progress all over again.
Therefore, it's probably best to start by analyzing your individual needs. It might bea good idea at this time to get some brochures to see the variety of features available.This not only provides a starting point for comparing the various systems, it can alsohelp operators separate needs from wants. All those extras can be enticing, but aren'talways useful to every facility.
"I think that when you're buying any product, you have to make some decisionsabout what's important to you." Skrentny says. "For some people, price is moreimportant. For other people, functions are more important. For some people, the waysomething looks is the most important. For other people, the perceived quality is the mostimportant. But for most people, I think it's a combination of these items."
To determine the most important needs of the facility, Richards suggests making twolists: must-haves and nice-to-haves. With those lists in hand, it's time to look at thevendors. Most importantly, limit the search to companies that make software specificallyfor the self-storage industry. The operator who tries to adapt apartment-managementsoftware, for example, is bound to be disappointed.
Gather as much information as possible. This can include brochures, demo disks andreferences. If possible, visit a trade show and speak with a salesperson face-to-face andget a first-hand demonstration of the product. This also allows operators to compareproducts side-by-side and meet with most of the companies within a two- or three-dayperiod.
Longevity is another deciding factor. Is this company going to continue to be inbusiness to provide upgrades, enhancements and support in three, five or more years? Doesit have a reputation of providing reliable products and tech support?
Ask lots of questions and ask to see how each relevant feature works. "I take alittle Missouri attitude and say, 'show me,'" Reddick says. "If the companyclaims the software can handle multiple units for the same tenant, consolidate a billingstatement for that tenant or customize reports, ask to see the program do those specificthings. Any feature the operator plans to use, he should see in action beforebuying."
Also, don't overlook the system's documentation, which may include a manual andon-screen help. If the vendor isn't available when a question or problem arises, themanager may need to rely on it to get back on track. How detailed is the manual? Does itinclude pictures? Some people prefer using the on-screen help rather than the manual. Ifthis is the case, does it provide sufficient information? Whichever method is preferred,make sure it's thorough and easy to understand.
As the list of potential programs gets shorter, take the time to visit facilities thatuse the systems to find out how they work in the real world. Although demos are a usefulcomparison tool, it's pretty easy to make anything look good for five minutes. "Iwould tell the customer that they need to make their own comparisons and that the vendoris not in the right place to make comparisons between his product and those of competitorsin the marketplace," Reddick says. "The vendor doesn't know enough about theother products to start with, and secondly, they're always going to have a biased view. Ithink it's the responsibility of the purchaser to make a comparison."
Plamondon's firm provides its software on the Internet for people to download."It's a fully functional copy of the software," he says. "Customers canactually download it, play with the demo, configure their own facility and actually thenrun their own facility for up to 90 days before they buy it. It's a good feature, just forseeing if it works for you."
Selecting software requires thorough research about each system and complete picture ofthe potential vendors. After all, "you're not just buying a product," Skrentnysays, "You're buying into a relationship with that company."
In the Windows environment, pertinent information is just a click of a mouse away.
Don't just look at the software programs; find out about the company itself. MikeSkrentny, president of MSTC suggests getting answers to the following questions:
What is the company's experience in the industry?
How long have they been in business?
How large is their staff?
What is their customer base?
Do they offer training?
Is training absolutely necessary?
How is customer support handled?
Are various support options available?
When is support staff available?
What is their call-back time?
On an ongoing basis, what does it cost to be a customer?
How much does continued support costs?
What product enhancements are offered, and what do they cost?
Questions to Get Answered Before Purchasing Management Software
One of the benefits of management software is that it allows its users to trackinformation on many aspects of a facility.
P.O. Box 47
Marcellus, NY 13108
Phone: (800) 817-7706
Automation Technologies' goal is to become the standard for the self-storage industry,believing that through the experience of owning and operating a storage facility alongwith experience of working with software customers they have an excellent background forserving this industry. The company's focus over the next year is to make its softwarecompatible with many other products (e.g., accounting, gate access, credit-card billing)in the industry. Automation Technologies currently offers The Storage Management System inboth DOS and Windows 95 applications.
2825 FM 2722
New Braunfels, TX 78132
Phone: (800) 880-0887
Fax: (830) 899-2124
Dilloware Inc. has been supplying small businesses with easy-to-use billing softwarefor eight years. Dilloware's president, Michael Kelley, originally marketed tax-planningsoftware. As his company grew, he found that the one area in greatest need of automationwas billing. The Billing Clerk,™ Kelley's solution to the problem, is an easy-to-useprogram that includes not only billing features, but complete accounts-receivablefunctions as well. It is a full-featured billing package that includes regular andrecurring billing.
HI-TECH Smart Systems
150 Hamakua Drive, Suite 173
Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 533-3627/(800) 551-8324
Fax: (808) 261-4447
HI-TECH was founded in Hawaii in 1983. In conjunction with the development of its coresoftware business, HI-TECH started a computer-rental business that became the largestcompany of its kind in the state of Hawaii. In 1991, HI-TECH sold its computer-rentalbusiness in order to enable the principals of the company to concentrate more on expandingand growing the firm's core business--management software for the self-storage industry.Besides its Mini-StoragePlus management software package, HI-TECH provides technicalsupport services, Internet Web-site services, computer and business-form sales,newsletters, education seminars, credit-card processing and computer hardware equipment.
Integrity Software Systems Inc.
3301 Veterans Drive, Suite 203
Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: (800) THEY-KNO
Fax: (616) 941-9544
Integrity Software Systems' Mini Storage Personal Accountant has been designed to offerself-storage facilities an accounting system that is easy to use and to provide strongfinancial controls. Such controls prevent locking out customers who have paid and helpsprevent manager theft. Chris Ray, a practicing CPA and a professional system developer,along with Ron Plamondon, are well qualified to design, develop and support installation.
7430 East Butherus Drive, Suite A
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (800) BUY-MSTC
MSTC, Mystic Systems Technology Corp., is now in its 14th year of providing managementsoftware to the self-storage industry. MSTC was one of the first companies to create anautomated property-management software system; conceptualize billing-sensitive keypads;develop a PC-based access-control system; and offer 24-hour, seven-day-a-week customerservice. MSTC has announced the forthcoming release of its Account Managerproperty-management software system, a 32-bit descendant of its flagship DOS-based MiniManager program.
O'Neil Product Development Inc.
Irvine, CA 92718
Phone: (714) 458-1234
Founded in 1983, O'Neil has developed software and hardware solutions for hundreds ofrecords centers in nearly 30 different countries worldwide. Through the development ofportable printing solutions for records centers, O'Neil maintains a fully-equipped stafffor on-site repairs of scanners, portable printers and computer hardware. In 1995, thefirm opened O'Neil University, which offers education to its partners in areas such asprofitable business strategies and operation of their software.
14011 Ventura Blvd., Suite 206 East
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (800) 321-1987/(818) 990-5575
QuikStor has supported the self-storage industry since 1986. Two years ago, QuikStorsold one of the industry's first self-storage programs written for Windows 95. The companyhas also pioneered other industry standards, including pay-at-the-gate, automaticovernight processing, digital photography, automatic credit-card processing,user-changeable site graphics, and 100 percent wireless door alarms. QuikStor software iswritten and supported by self-storage professionals. Founder Dennis Levitt owns and holdsinterest in several self-storage facilities. The software has been running in more than1,000 self-storage facilities around the world.
Sentinel Systems Corp.
1050 South Wadsworth Blvd., Suite A
Lakewood, CO 80226
Phone: (800) 456-9955/(303) 936-9955
Fax: (303) 936-1230
Sentinel Systems has been a leader in providing security electronics and propertymanagement software to the self-storage industry for more than 22 years. What began as away to eliminate break-ins for a group of self-storage facilities has grown into one ofthe largest security and software suppliers in the industry. The firm now serves more than11,000 systems worldwide, with a tenant-user population in the millions. "Our missionis to provide superior products and outstanding customer service through innovations intechnology, people, systems and marketing," says Dave Reddick, president.
Space Control Systems Inc.
2815 Mitchell Drive, Suite 205
Walnut Creek, CA 94598-1622
Phone: (800) 455-9055/(510) 943-6222
Fax: (510) 943-6370
In January 1984, Ramona Taylor and Larry Winnerman formed Space Control Systems.Taylor's background was in software, and as manager of a self-storage software product,she gained considerable insight into product requirements and user needs for the industry.Winnerman owned 16 self-storage sites in New Jersey. Their goal was to combine theirexperiences to create a software package the could "speak" to the self-storageindustry and, therefore, be instantly understandable to anyone in the field. Marketresearch indicated that there was a huge demand for a product that could provide controlto absentee owners; hence the name of their software--Space Control.
Umbrella Systems Inc.
Poulsbo Business Park, Suite 1A
20714 Hwy 305
PO Box 1827
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Phone: (800) 544-0652
Fax: (360) 779-1395
The Umbrella System is a complete software package for the management of self-storagefacilities. Programmed from the ground up, the Umbrella System is not an adaptation of anexisting software package, but is designed to be a powerful, flexible and simple productto use. The strength of the Umbrella System is that it maintains a line-item record of alltransactions, giving the user an accurate account history, preliminary lien notices, anitemized rent statement and fully auditable cash-flow statements.
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