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May 1, 1998
Facility management becomes automated and auspicious
By Teri L. Lanza
Next year is 2000. A new millennium begins. Didn't you think, when you were a kid, thatby the time the year 2000 rolled around, we'd be flying around in hover crafts, robotswould address household chores and meals would come in pill form? Could you have imaginedthat we would still be just be getting accustomed with automatic credit-card payments ande-mail?
If you think it's a given that all self-storage owners and operators these days areeasing the tasks and responsibilities of running their business by using software programsdesigned for this purpose, guess again. If you're one of those owners/operators, andyou've yet to automate, don't think it can be avoided for too much longer. And whyhesitate? The programs available for self-storage today not only make your business moreefficient and secure, they also paint a more accurate picture of a facility's marketingefforts and fiscal success, not to mention aiding in the generation of more revenue.Whether you're the owner of a single 100-unit facility or a chain of much larger ones, theappropriate software package can mean more time, more tenants, more money on yourhands.
Perhaps you have a small facility, or perhaps you've just always handled your recordsmanually. Maybe you've been running a DOS program and are contemplating a switch to onethat runs in a Windows environment. Whatever the situation, there are facilities out thererunning outdated software or none at all. For some facilities, the only mouse hangingaround is one for the exterminator. Change isn't always easy. Hardware and software costmoney. For some, the question of whether to automate may seem too expensive or complicatedto address. But consider the benefits.
"One of the things I see when someone has resistance to using the new technologybut they're calling me, is that they've been running a one-person show. They're the keeperof all the wisdom and all the knowledge: the unit numbers, the rents and the status ofeach unit kept in hand-scribbled notes and memorization. But the ability to allow alesser-paid person come in and yet still maintain cash control of your business is a verycomforting feeling," says Doug Carner, marketing director for Quikstor, a ShermanOaks, Calif.-based producer of self-storage management software. "You can go onvacation for two weeks and know that your customers are still receiving the same highlevel of service, even in your absence, because of some automated features."
What might those automated features include? Instant tracking of receivables andoccupancy analysis; the automatic generation of professional bills, late notices and othercorrespondence; full inventory control; sales and rent tax calculations; tenant notes anddaily reminders; detailed reporting; credit-card processing; marketing analysis; trackingof ancillary income; interface with security and gate access; interface with detailedaccounting programs such as Quickbooks, etc. The list goes on and on, and each year newenhancements are added.
"Self-storage is a highly competitive, reasonably well-mechanized industry, andvendors are throwing features into their Windows products just as quick as they can getthem in. The year the tenant wants it, it'll be there," says Dave Reddick, presidentof Denver-based Sentinel Systems, a producer of both property-management software andsecurity electronics. Glenn Hunter, owner and president for Berkeley, Calif.-based Domico,which produces property management and accounting software for self-storage, concurs:"This industry has been terribly slow to deal with change of any kind but,fortunately, what's happening now, with the large amount of outside investment companiesinvolved, is that the industry itself is being modernized in a very dramatic fashion.
"There's no question that there are benefits in automating," continuesHunter. "Reliability and accuracy are hard-fought battles that take place as softwareis developed for this industry, but assuming those two things are intact, theprofessionalism, efficiency and even protection from legal complications makes the notionof automating worth considering. Certainly there's an investment to be made, but there'sno question that any accurate and reliable software package will return the investment theowner makes in a short period of time."
"I think the biggest benefit is accuracy and knowing the status of your facility,how much cash is outstanding, being able to control the cash coming in. That, to me, is abig issue," says Ron Plamondon, president of Integrity Software Systems in TraverseCity, Mich. "If you're on a manual system, you never really have a handle on how muchis outstanding in receivables--you can't really manage it. And, you can't manage yourmanagers either, making sure things are done the way you want them to be done. The bigbenefit to automating is getting control of your facility."
"Why you should automate is because it's more accurate," says Tom Garden,president and co-owner of Automation Technologies, the Marcellus, N.Y.-based producer ofThe Storage Management System for Windows. Your customers may not tell you when you make amistake, but the software will catch it. The software bills religiously and takes thepayments that are made. It can give you information on how your business is doing. It cantell you which units are providing the most money per square foot, which ones are bringingin most of your revenue, what you should be building, where your customers are comingfrom. The second part is that all of your correspondence will be veryprofessional-looking, and a professional appearance is important if you expect paymentsand fees to be collected. Late charges are a lot less personal when generated by acomputer rather than an owner. That alone can probably pay for your system."
One of the most popular trends in new software for self-storage is the conversion toprimarily Windows-based packages. "Users finally have a choice of Windows-basedprograms for managing their sites because DOS vendors finally had to offer Windowsversions," says Marcus Hecker, marketing director for Wake Forest, N.C.-based SMDTechnologies Inc., which produces a comprehensive mini-storage-management package calledSiteLink. Quite a few vendors do offer DOS versions of their software, but few advertisethem or choose to keep them on the forefront of the companies product offerings. Aspresident of Space Control Systems in Walnut Creek, Calif., Ramona Taylor, explains, hercompany will be releasing it's Windows product, Space ControlII, this summerand phasing out sales of the older DOS package. "Although many of our existingcustomers may continue to use their DOS programs, we'll only sell the Windows package tonew customers," she says.
Will Windows be the end of the road for self-storage software? Not according toDomico's Hunter. "Right now what's happening is that the industry is being floodedwith Windows products. For me, that's a heavily quoted area, because what I'm seeing isthat the products not only run on that operating system, but they also have the same lookand feel of Windows 95 and 98. I'm betting that's an error on the part of my competition.I'll make a future prognostication that within three years, Windows-look products willappear as momentary bumps on the road to tomorrow's software." The alternative?"I believe the most exciting, interesting, innovative and simple design work that'staking place today in the field of software is on the Internet. I think that's whereyou'll see the future of software design, at least as far as the look and feel and usercomplexity."
Many of these programs will do what they've always done, and many will handlesimilar--if not identical--functions. But there is no question that the packages areexpanding, including new enhancements. Though the possibilities are seemingly endless,some of the most basic functions and features of the software include, but are notrestricted to the following:
The generation of notices, bills, statements and user-defined letters. (Some programs will even do this automatically on set dates and times, with no initiation by an employee.)
Generation of reports, including aging, customer lists, monthly sales, transactions and return on marketing investment.
Inventory control and occupancy analysis.
Move in and move out.
Pro-rate in or out.
Payment and fee collection.
Systematic checking of deadlines and status of over-due tenants.
Interface with gate access and security.
Interface with detailed accounting programs.
As Automation Technologies' Garden points out, the vendors are steering away fromcharging for individual modules and are including more features in the basic package,which is driving software prices down and increasing competition amongst the variouscompanies.
"What has changed in the industry is that most vendors have come out with aWindows product, most with more tools built into them--more drill-down capabilities andgraphical representation and interface," says Garden. "The things you're goingto see now are above and beyond the normal functions that software has done in the past:more marketing and forecasting tools, and more information flow for helping you makebusiness decisions, information such as, 'Am I getting money out of my Yellow Pagesmarketing?' Those are the things that will separate the robust products from the moreminimal ones."
According to Taylor, service-oriented features are also on the rise. "One thingI've seen happening in the industry in general is that as the industry matures and asthere's more competition out there, owners are leaning toward offering more and moreservice, and certainly the software can help them accomplish that. We can tie in theservice people want to offer their customers and automate it." For example, some ofTaylor's Australian customers indicated that they wanted their software to notify themwhen a repeat customer entered the office inquiring about a space, storing informationabout their last business transaction with them. Some self-storage operators are utilizingsoftware to automate a unified reservation center where customers can call in to reserveunits. The pertinent information then gets forwarded to the appropriate site.
Personalization of the package seems to be another growing feature. "The biggestthing that we're heading toward is more customized ability. For example, we've had a lotof people wanting to send out customized letters and late notices, keeping their contractson the system, etc. So that's the direction we've taken," says Michael Kelley, ownerand president of Dilloware Inc. Dilloware's product, The Billing Clerk, deals strictlywith billing and accounts receivable, but other products have adopted a similar approach."If I had to summarize it, it's not just an increase in customer service to ourcustomers, but to their customers as well," says Eric Young, sales directorfor Quikstor. "If you think about the features, they were always geared toward makingthe owner's or the manager's life easier, but now the trend is things that truly make thetenant's life easier." Features such as pay-at-the-gate or automatic credit-cardbilling create convenience for everyone.
According to Young, pay-at-the-gate is becoming much more prolific and allowsdelinquent tenants to bring their accounts current with a credit card right at the gate."It's this kind of integration where the industry is headed. It's becoming seamlessbetween the software and the security side. The two are no longer separate entities."Other vendors, such as HI-TECH Smart Systems in Kailua, Hawaii, prefer to promote featuressuch as automatic credit-card billing. "One of the things that we offer now in thesoftware is the ability to automatically charge a customer's credit-card account on amonthly basis," says HI-TECH President Mike Richards. "The customer signs up forthis option. In the future I see this being expanded to debit cards, and I think more andmore people will opt for this method of payment. I also think it will be possible, in afew years, for customers to go to a facility's Web site, enter a pin code and see astatement of their account. That will make a big difference in collecting rent."
Sound good so far? Well, there's more, particularly in the arena of communication.Today's self-storage software will not only produce invoices, letters and reports, but itwill transmit them electronically as well. Richards explains, "Another major featurewe've integrated into our program, RentPlus, is the use of the Internet and e-mail; forexample, the user can look up a report and, just as simply as sending it to the printer,they can click a button and send it as an e-mail message to an owner or home office orsupervisor. You can also go directly to the Web from within the program, so if a supplierhas a Web site, you can recall them to the screen and go right to their site. In thefuture what you might be able to do is go into our purchase-order program, click on avendor and complete a purchase through their Web site, the whole transaction beingrecorded in the accounting system at the same time.
"Another thing that's becoming popular is sending out bills and statementselectronically," Richards continues. Quikstor has a similar feature. "If someonehas our e-mail and fax options, which is what's new in the Quikstor 2000, the program cane-mail or fax late letters, bills, even reports. If you want to send a promotional letterto your customers, you don't pay a penny in postage, you don't tie up your manager's timeand you don't use a printer," says Young.
We are part of a visual age, and an interactive one as well. Today's software fallsright in line with this attraction. Mike Skrentney, president for MSTC, points out thathis company's Site Manager program is a graphical display of an owner's facility,indicating via color-coding the status of each unit, whether it be rented, available,past-due, etc. And plenty of other vendors are offering similar graphical features, somewith the ability to click on a unit on the screen and bring up the tenant's accountinginformation.
"I think what's going to happen is much more visual interface," says Carner."And I mean more than splashy menus and cute icons. For example, one of the newthings we're doing now is allowing an owner to see his security camera in the lower cornerof his screen while he's working, right there on the monitor. You also have the ability torecall digital images on command, so if a prospect wants to see what a unit looks like,you can show them a digital photograph right on your computer screen and not even have toleave the office." Digital cameras are also being used to take photographs of tenantswhen they move in or of a unit's contents before auction. Pictures are then electronicallystored in the tenant's record. Other electronic options allow for the tie in of afacility's intercom system into the software. If a tenant comes to the intercom while amanager is away from the office, that is documented in the manager's screen notes, and hecan get back to them.
Overall, the software is getting smarter. "One of the things we're working on isadding additional expertise to the software,"says Richards. "Say, for example,the phone rings and it's a sales call. We're working on a built-in tool that will scriptthe operator through the sales process, making sure they ask the right questions andmentioning everything the owner would want to stress. We're also working at automating asales follow-up process." Along those same lines, SMD's Communications Manager, partof the SiteLink package, operates a modem like a conventional, residential answeringmachine. "When site managers are unable to answer the phone, customers can leave amessage. SiteLink allows the manager to access the message at any time and monitors bothanswered and unanswered call volume at your site, all with a single phone line," saysHecker.
And, the software is helping people get smarter. "One of the bigenhancements for MSTC is the offering the computer-based training (CBT) program,"highlights Skrentney. The CBT program is offered on computerized disc or over the Internetand will actually train people how to use our products. It's interactive, and it will alsotest your level of knowledge, track it, and even send a letter documenting your expertiseto your corporate users."
Finally, modern self-storage software is, in some cases, being tailored for veryspecific aspects of the industry. O'Neil Product Development, based in Irvine, Calif.,offers a product called RSWin (Records Storage for Windows). A new product, RS-SQL(Records Storage, The Sequel) was released early this month. Both products are designedspecifically for self-storage companies that wish to provide business records-storage andmanagement. The RS program tracks hard-copy information and magnetic media, pricing andinvoicing. "One of our key directions with this product is the integration with otherproducts so that we can combine what we do best with what others do best," says JimTeske, sales manager. "We want to focus on creating the best records,information-management, tracking and billing product. Outside of that, our direction is tolink our product with other industry-leading products.
"All of these products are going to charge rent, all of them are going to allowyou to do first-of-the-month or anniversary billing, all of them are going to generatenotices for the tenants, whether they be late notices or lien notices or monthly billingstatements. Some of them will keep inventory, some don't. Many of them do automaticcredit-card processing," says Reddick. The core of a standard self-storage packagewill encompass many of these basic functions. But those that don't handle everything,such as advanced accounting and ledger functions, will often interface with other programsthat do. For example, Hunter says, "We don't have a payables module--we didn't wantto reinvent the wheel. Instead we interface with all currently available accountingpackages."
Similarly, products such as Domico and many others, will interface with securityproducts sold to the self-storage market. "We felt it was better for us to focus onour area of expertise," says Hunter. "We're more comfortable 'talking to'various security products than competing with them."
For example, Automation Technologies' product integrates with systems by PTI AccessControls, Doug West & Associates and Demco Electronics. Integrity's product, the MiniStorage Personal Accountant, is also compatible with security systems by Doug West andPTI. "We've been successful in interfacing with those two, and they're similarinterfaces. The data file we provide for one is not much different than the other. I thinkas long as the software vendor is in touch with the gate-system vendor and they coordinatebetween them, integration is not a problem," says Plamondon. Companies such asSentinel and MSTC (Mystic Systems Technology Corp.) offer both products, which allows forobvious integration of the two systems.
But what if you could select whichever software-management package you liked andintegrate it with any security system of your choosing? Enter the concept of universalinterface, which seems, at this point, to be more fancy than fact. Universal interfaceinvolves the standardization of the software protocol in such a way that the programs cancommunicate with one another, regardless of the producer. Although a committee has beenformed to address this possibility, little progress has been seen to date.
"We'd love to see universal interface because it would simplify things somuch," Quikstor's Carner says. "But the one thing that is universal aboutuniversal integration is that it isn't. Everybody has their own standard of whatthey feel a universal interface should look like, which is really a shame, because it's awin-win situation for everyone. You could pick the software you want and tie it to thesecurity system you want. Hopefully that will come to fruition, because everyonebenefits."
"Someone has to develop a standard that people will comply to," says Garden."A standard needs to be thrust upon the vendors who don't seem to understand thatopen systems are positive and will enhance their sales. It's the gate vendors that need todo this." And some vendors are stepping up to the plate. There are those in theindustry voicing the belief that universal interface is a dead issue, being hindered bythose companies that sell both kinds of systems and stand to gain by selling a fullpackage to their client base. However, such a suggestion is contradicted by actions ofcompanies like Sentinel, which has contributed to the conversation a document outliningprecise protocol and data supporting the concept. The bottom line seems to be that such aneffort consumes time--a precious commodity to any business owner--and requires agreementbetween multiple participants.
The future of self-storage software, as in any industry as we approach the year 2000,is full of possibility. Are these programs Y2K compliant? At this late in the game, theyhad better be. Most already are. Those that aren't, are working steadfastly to comply. Butthere are brighter considerations on the horizon.
"The two biggest things on the horizon are the computer-based training andWeb-centric technology," says Skrentney. "The world is going over to theInternet and businesses are doing commerce on the Internet, and that is what'scoming." More specifically, companies such as Domico are thinking on a grand scale.According to Hunter, "We are coming out with a new product that we believe willrevolutionize the industry. The product will come out this year--hopefully sooner thanlater--and it has a look and feel that is completely different from anything companies inour industry have seen so far. It is designed with an underlying technology that makes useof the very latest software, called SQL-based (sequential query language). It's going tobe a product that, over time, will be available simply by logging onto a Web site. Youwill no longer need software at the sites at all. At first, it will appear as a verysimple--and we hope elegantly beautiful--application that will run just like others, on aPC at the site. But built into it will be technology that will be available to move intothe future."
Integrity Software's Plamondon anticipates cashless transactions just a few years downthe road, wherein facilities will be able to transmit directly to banks and handle debitcards. Carner adds to this premonition the ability for management software to utilize it'smodem as an automated call-in service where a tenant can get information of their accountafter hours. By calling and entering a unit and pin or gate-code number, a tenant couldcheck on a payment, determine a balance, or even process a credit-card payment right overthe phone. Kelley, from Dilloware envisions a paperless office. "The industry ismoving towards full automation. In the next year or two? No. Five years from now? Yes. Notjust in this industry, but everywhere, there is a move towards doing everythingelectronically," Kelley says.
With so many options out there, and many functions of the individual programsoverlapping, an owner may wonder: How do I choose? You simply cannot shop on price. Thereare too many things to consider: What functions does this software handle? What featuresdoes it have? What kind of track record does the company have? What kind of support doesit offer and how often does it provide upgrades? Is there online help? Is it easy to use?Questions such as these should be considered before a purchase is made. "You've gotto be informed. You need to do your homework before you buy," says Reddick. "Andwhen you get up to speed on what's available, then you need to think about what kinds oftraining needs you have."
"All the software can do similar things and can do it well, so the real questionis, what are the specific things you want it to do for you?," says Skrentney."How automated do you want to be, how flexible? If you change the way you dosomething in your business, will you also be able to change the way the software does it?Easily and without ramifications?" Kelley expands by saying, "Buyers need tolist what features they want in their software. Once they've made this 'wish list,' thenthey've got to match that list with what's available on the market and what kind of pricetag it carries. If someone wants a paperless office, it's available, but they may not beable to afford the software that will do that. They've got to match their wish list withtheir pocketbook."
Nevertheless, a buyer should not be making a purchase based on price, warns Garden."I always say price should be your last criteria when you're looking at softwaresystems; however, if you're a mom-and-pop operation and you only have 200 units, you couldalmost run your business by hand before you spend $5,000 or $6,000." Software varieswidely on price, depending upon its features. "As a general rule of thumb, the moreexpensive a package is, the more features it's going to have. You just have to decide howmany features you can afford. If you have 100 to 200 units, it's going to be pretty toughto justify spending $1,000 for a billing program. The economics are just not there,"says Kelley.
"One of the most important things--and this often gets lost in those big lists of'Does it do this and does it do that?'--is to get a feel for the overall package, how easyit is to use and understand. It think it's important that a system be simple enough thatyou can look at the program and understand immediately what it's telling you," saysSpace Control's Taylor. Hecker agrees. "After you use a program for a few minutes,you will have an idea of how easy it is to use for day-to-day activities. If you have tohunt around or remember a sequence of screens or commands to complete basic functions, theprogram is probably not as user friendly as it could be."
The key, according to Plamondon, is to keep it simple. "I've seen a lot of peopleget overwhelmed by some software that may have been more than they needed. You need toconsider who's going to be running the facility. Are the managers people who are computerliterate? Do they have multiple facilities? If they do, and they are sophisticated intheir operations, then they may need a different package from someone who has 100units." The important thing is to ask specific questions, says Hecker."Self-storage owners are savvy and know the specific requirements of their business.Although no program will accommodate the exact way you manage your operation, make sure aprogram can manage all of your key functions."
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, look very carefully at your vendor. "Choosesomeone who has enough experience and enough customers that you feel sure of the longevityof the organization," points out Richards. "One of the things I've learned overthe years is that relationships between customers and vendors tend to be ongoing. You'renot just purchasing software, you're buying into a relationship." Adds Domico'sHunter, "The most important criteria is very simple: You should examine the trackrecord of the company you will be purchasing from. A really good product not backed by anequally good company is like a knight running around without any armor."
Teske of O'Neil sums it up: "The primary things to consider are: How does thisinvestment help me generate more revenue? How does it help me lower my operating expenses?And, how does this solution minimize my risk? By risk I mean both the risk that what I buywill do everything I want for the customer today as well as be able to provide thesame solutions and competitive advantages five years from now."
Ignoring the benefits of and advances in automation will do little for self-storageoperators in today's fast-paced, rapidly expanding industry. "Users will no longerbenefit from programs remaining stagnant. The industry is changing. Consolidation,increased development and evolving legal parameters will require businesses to rethinktheir customer-service approach," says Hecker. "Operators may find they need tooffer added value to customers. Make sure your program can grow as you offer customersdifferent storage solutions (i.e., free truck rentals, dynamic discounts, etc.)."This improved service translates into greater financial success for the owner. "Thesoftware makes you money and it helps you run a good business. You'll make more money ifyou use it than if you don't," says Reddick.
"This is an industry where technology is very well received, much more so thanothers I have worked in," remarks Carner. "And it's not because of the seductivequality of the technology, it's because of the practical application. It's hard to come upwith another industry where so many people are affected by a single purchase. Anythingthat gives a manager more time or gives another service to a customer is a very powerfulfeature to provide and can make a site that costs more still the more desirable place tobe."
And this is what any owner wants, in this millennium or any other.
Acorn Products/DCAL Computer Systems
P.O. Box 3936
4100 Adams Rd., Suite C101
Bartlesville, OK 74006
Phone: (918) 333-2996
Fax: (918) 335-0240
Acorn Products/DCAL Computer Systems, a producer of software products designed forself-storage, has been in business for 19 years and serves the United States, Canada, theBahamas and Australia. Acorn Products for self-storage consist of UNItroller ManagementSoftware, UNIkey Access Control Software System, Vertical Lift Gate, Central OfficeSystems and all ancillary items to provide complete control of a self-storage facility.UNItroller Management Software and the UNIkey Access Control System both operate on onecomputer simultaneously. The UNItroller system communicates to the UNIkey system who tolock out for non-payment, and will automatically unlock them when their account is broughtcurrent.
Automation Technologies has been serving the self-storage industry since 1991. Thecompany's flagship product, The Storage Management System for Windows, has been shippingsince 1997. The open architec-ture of the package allows exports to MicrosoftOffice™, various gate systems and Quickbooks™. Automation Technologies pridesitself in providing a stable, intuitive product backed up with excellent support. TheWindows product sells for $1,295 with no add-on or hidden charges. Annual maintenance,which includes unlimited 800number support as well as periodic software updates, costs$149. All products are Y2K compliant.
2825 FM 2722
New Braunfels, TX 78132
Phone: (800) 880-0887
Fax: (830) 899-2124
Dilloware Inc. produces billing and accounts receivable software affordable to allself-storage owners. The Billing Clerk automatically bills and tracks monthly rents,produces monthly statements, aging, past-due notices, late charges, print receipts, etc.Owners have the option of printing a statement at any time, not just at billing time.Customer history is maintained for as long as needed for an unlimited number of customers,and there is a large notepad for information on each (comments, security codes,credit-card information, etc.). The Billing Clerk sells for $229, whether a facility has100 or 10,000 units. The program is intentionally designed for easy installation and use.The Dilloware programming staff has been producing easy-to-use, affordable billingsoftware for more than 18 years.
2608 9th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone: (800) 688-6181
Fax: (510) 644-3156
DOMICO has supplied the self-storage industry with management and accounting softwaresince 1984. This year, the company will release its third major product line, DOMICO 2000.Making use of an advisory group consisting of managers and owners from leadingself-storage companies, DOMICO has created a product that is dramatically easier to usethen the ordinary Windows look-alike design. DOMICO 2000 incorporates all of the knowledgeof functionality gained from years of excellent client relations, combined with the verylatest in Internet-based design technology. According to one company advisor, the softwaredesign is "so simple that a customer can move themselves in." For moreinformation or a free demonstration CD, contact Stephanie Quick, client relations manager.
HI-TECH Smart Systems
150 Hamakua Drive, Suite 173
Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 533-3627
Fax: (808) 261-4447
HI-TECH has been producing software for the self-storage industry since 1986. RentPlusis the company's self-storage software for Microsoft Windows 95. The program was designedfrom the ground up to provide all of the features needed in self-storage today and in thefuture. Highlights include an on-screen interactive map of a facility, daily, weekly andmonthly rentals, multiple plans, automatic charges and notices, complete built-ininventory management, customizable letters and much more. Customer and other photos may beattached and viewed with a customer's record. RentPlus includes free technical support andupdates, as well as a risk-free, money-back guarantee.
Integrity Software Systems Inc.
3211 Continental Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
Phone: (800) THEY-KNOW
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 Ron Plamondon a professionalsystem developer, are well qualified to design, develop and support installation.
135 Cambridge St.
Burlington, MA 02038
Phone: (781) 229-6631
Fax: (781) 229-9088
Microtask, founded in 1996, has more than 20 years experience in the self-storagemarket and an engineering team with more than 50 years of collective experience in thedevelopment of Windows- and Web-based applications. In 1998, the company introducedStor-Rite'98™, which is designed to enable facility managers to increase the accuracyof their operations, reduce operational costs, make more efficient use of their time andfocus on more revenue-generating activities. Stor-Rite can be shaped to fit the way ownersdo business--customize late fees, lien fees, charges, credits, recurring charges, couponsand more. The program can also process credit cards automatically, interface to the mostpopular gate-security systems and be shared by multiple computers in a network.
7430 East Butherus Drive, Suite A
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (800) BUY-MSTC
Mystic Systems Technology Corp. is now in its 15th 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. The company recently released its Account Manager property-management softwaresystem, a 32-bit descendant of MSTC's flagship, DOS-based, Mini Manager program. Inaddition, MSTC is the first company in the industry to introduce a computer-based trainingprogram that enables customers to learn the software through an interactive CD-ROM. MSTCcontinues to develop other new products, several of which will be introduced in 1999.
O'Neil Product Development Inc.
Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (949) 458-1234
Founded in 1981, O'Neil Software is a provider of records-storage software, servingmore than 600 facilities in 34 countries. Through its corporate headquarters in Irvine,Calif., and international offices in London and Brisbane, O'Neil has hundreds of peopleincrease their opportunities in the commercial-archive industry through superior softwaredesign, comprehensive barcode-tracking hardware and portable receipt printing. O'NeilUniversity, opened in 1995, offers education in areas such as software operation as wellas profitable business strategies.
14011 Ventura Blvd., Suite 206 East
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone: (800) 321-1987
QuikStor is a complete software and access-control solution. Three years ago, thecompany sold the industry's first self-storage software written for Windows 95, and allQuikStor products have been year 2000 compliant since 1996 or earlier. QuikStor pioneeredfeatures such as automatically printing notices and posting charges overnight, automaticrent collection by credit card, the QuickBooks accounting bridge, multi-user/network datasharing and integrated digital photography. QuikStor is continuing this innovation withfeatures such as automatically faxed and e-mailed bills, receipts, late letters and homeoffice reports, and the ability to view a site's security cameras through managementsoftware or via the Internet. Wireless alarms provide easy installation and security thatcan be rented to tenants for an added profit center.
Sentinel Systems Corp.
1050 South Wadsworth Blvd., Suite A
Lakewood, CO 80226
Phone: (800) 456-9955
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 23 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 than13,000 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.
SMD Technologies has been developing Windows-based programming since the early days ofthe Windows operating system. The company's experience has led to SiteLink 98, a softwaretool for managing all areas of self-storage operations. Features of SiteLink 98 includedownload capabilities for home offices, controls for importing data into QuickBooks,customizable Microsoft Word-based letters, notices, and more. Industry-first functions ofthe program include the Task Manager, which tracks deadlines and past-due events, and theCommunications Manager, which monitors phone traffic and employee time and attendance. SMDTechnologies intends to soon include features such as networking capabilities, enhancedcommunication functions and more.
Since Space Control's inception in 1984, the company has kept sights on providing asoftware-management package that would address the unique requirements of the self-storageindustry. When research indicated that absentee owners needed on-site control, SpaceControl filled that need by auditing every variance from standard procedure. From thesmallest single facility with 85 spaces to the largest facility with more than 5,000spaces, to the largest single company, with more than 1,400 locations, SpaceControl has met the demand. Today, the same philosophy toward meeting user needs with thebest possible solution is being applied to a new Windows package that begins shipping thissummer.
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