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8 Guidelines for Choosing Your Self-Storage Management Software

Researching management software for your self-storage business may seem overwhelming and confusing. Here are eight simple guidelines for choosing a program.

January 15, 2015

4 Min Read
8 Guidelines for Choosing Your Self-Storage Management Software

By Kevin Kerr

Whether you’re purchasing a new self-storage facility or upgrading an existing operation, choosing a management software may seem intimidating and confusing. With new features and services being offered all the time, it’s more important than ever to educate yourself on the providers and options available. Here are eight simple guidelines to follow when choosing your program.

1. Educate Yourself

All too often, operators pursue new software without knowing the difference between the available platforms. This can lead to confusion during the purchase process and, worse, leave you stuck with a product that isn’t the right fit for your facility. Understanding software terms such as standalone, Web-enabled and Web-based will provide a strong foundation for your selection process.

2. Buy Early

If you’re building a new facility, don’t delay in purchasing your management software. Begin your research up to six months in advance and decide on a provider within three months of opening. This ensures you have enough time to finish setup and can begin accepting new inquiries. It also gives your operation the strongest possible start while breaking into a new market.

3. Look for Hardware Integration

Most management software comes equipped to integrate with various kinds of hardware. Don’t overlook this. Understanding and using the available integration can have a dramatic effect on your day-to-day operation.

Using tools such as combo scanners, kiosks, customer-access terminals and fingerprint scanners will give your facility and its customers more control and overall security. Even if you’re not planning to use any hardware immediately, always make sure the software you choose can accommodate these integrations for future use.

4. Take Advantage of Supplemental Features

Some software providers offer additional services and modules that aren’t included with their basic package. While you may think a company is trying to nickel and dime you, these supplementary packages are often developed after the initial software release to increase productivity and enhance your facility’s revenue potential. By adding elements such as online payments, reservations and reporting, you’ll not only be taking full advantage of the product, you’ll relieve yourself from having to complete certain tasks manually. 

5. Read the Fine Print

Make sure the details of the partnership with your software provider are perfectly clear before you complete the purchase. When a deal looks too good to be true, it often is. Most buyers don’t realize this until it’s too late. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Does the provider maintain ownership of your data? If so, will it charge you to release that data if you decide to switch software providers?

  • Is this an introductory rate? Some providers will attempt to hook you in at a low rate only to increase it dramatically in time. Asking if the rate will be maintained throughout the duration of your partnership will help you avoid fluctuating costs.

  • If a provider is offering you a free website, does it maintain ownership of the domain name (for example, www.abcstorage.com), or will it charge you to release the domain if you decide to change providers?

Being aware of some of these elements and tactics can save you untold time and money in the future.

6. Buy From a Software Company

If software isn’t your provider’s main focus, you could lose out. For example, purchasing management software from an access-control company simply because it offers you a package deal can leave you with rigid product limitations and buyer’s remorse. Choose a reputable, experienced company that’ll always ensure your operation and its software come first. 

7. Choose Flexibility

The ability to modify and add basic features such as custom billing plans, automated late steps and additional payment options are sometimes overlooked during the research phase. These are important tools that’ll keep you in control rather than allow your software to govern how your facility is managed.

8. Watch for Missing Features

Some companies boast capabilities or features that aren’t directly developed within their software. Unfortunately, because these extras aren’t paid for by the software provider, you’re left with the tab. This tactic can add substantial costs and monthly charges to your bill. It can also create customer-service issues if you have problems with a third-party feature. It can be painful to resolve an issue when neither company in a partnership wants to take responsibility for a problem. These complications can easily be avoided by choosing a provider who develops and maintains its own features and modules within the software.

While your software may not dictate the success of your operation on the whole, having a favorable relationship with a trusted and established provider will assist you in reaching your full potential as a prosperous facility in your market. Look closely at the experience of these providers and make your decision based on the benefits the software can provide for years to come.

Kevin Kerr is the director of sales and marketing for Storage Commander, a Murrieta, Calif.-based supplier of self-storage management software. To reach him, e-mail [email protected]; visit www.storagecommander.com.

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