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Facts and Figures: 3 Management-Software Reports Every Self-Storage Operator Should Use

If you operate a self-storage facility, having accurate information about the business is vital. Here are three management-software reports you should be using regularly to better understand and manage your property.

Matthew Van Horn

June 18, 2016

5 Min Read
Facts and Figures: 3 Management-Software Reports Every Self-Storage Operator Should Use

If you operate a self-storage facility today, you have access to all kinds of business information you can review and analyze. Do you want to know how many square feet you rented during January in each of the last three years? Hit a button. How many customers accessed their unit on April 8, 2012? Hit a button. The problem isn’t getting accurate information, it’s identifying the information you really need and processing it correctly.

Every year our cars, electronics, phones, software, etc., get bigger and better. Our self-storage software is no different—there are constantly new features and reports available. Our job is to sift through all the possible facts and figures to focus on what matters. Let’s review the three reports you should use almost daily to better understand and manage your facility.

Report 1: Management Summary

One of the most important and frequently viewed reports is the management summary. This will be essentially the same regardless of which type of software your facility uses. It’s going to give you the 40,000-foot view of your operation, breaking down total income by day, week and month, and then simplifying the information by revenue type such as fees, insurance, merchandise sales, rental income, taxes, etc.

Your management-summary report will show the total number of units as well as the facility’s physical, square-foot and economic occupancy. It’ll also show any variances such as complimentary and damaged units. Delinquencies will be represented by number of delinquent units, total amount delinquent and total days delinquent. The report will also show you gross potential rent, actual rent, amount of prepaid rent, and move-ins and move-outs for each month.

The great thing about this report is it’ll allow you to quickly analyze your facility and find areas that need to be improved or researched. Each section of the summary is typically supported by another report that’ll allow you to audit or review a specific item in more detail.

Report 2: Occupancy or Unit Mix

The next report you should use regularly is called an occupancy or unit-mix report. As with the management summary, each software program will offer this type of accounting, but with minor differences. This report will break down a facility’s total unit count by size code (5-by-10, 10-by-10, 10-by-15, etc.) and type (standard, climate-controlled, first or second floor, vehicle, and so on).

The report is invaluable for showing the demand your facility is experiencing in each individual size. It’s also extremely helpful for revenue management. For example, if your facility is 90 percent occupied in 10-by-10s, you might consider raising the street rate on those units and removing any discounts or specials available. The same could be true in the reverse if you have a size that’s highly vacant.

The unit-mix report will also show the potential and actual rental revenue each unit size is driving to your facility. This allows you to identify any size that has been rented at a variance from your street rate so you can quickly address this issue. This is one of the most valuable reports available to you.

Report 3: Rent Roll

The final report you should be using is the rent roll. Every management-software program provides this as a standard report in commercial real estate. It’ll typically show each individual unit, which customer occupies the unit, how long the unit has been occupied, and any balance owed.

One of the great features offered by most if not all of the current industry programs is the ability to export reports to Excel. This allows you to run financial models on customer variances and rates. It also enables you to determine the median and average stay of customers, which can be used to calculate cost per lead, cost per tenant acquisition and return on investment for your marketing campaigns.

Similar to the rent roll, a walk-through or walk-around report is also invaluable. It uses comparable information but includes vacant units and delinquent status so you can complete an accurate physical inventory of your individual units.

Shiny-Toy Syndrome

These three reports only scratch the surface of the information available to a self-storage operator. In regard to financing or refinancing a facility, the management summary, unit-mix report and rent roll will typically be required by a bank or lending institution during underwriting. Having these reports readily available makes the process almost painless. In addition, they’ll typically be required for the underwriting of any property insurance policy.

Today’s management software provides anywhere from 50 to 100 individual reports, graphs and descriptions for the day-to-day operation of a facility. We now have an overabundance of information. This flood of statistics can actually be more destructive to your business than a lack of information because of analysis paralysis, which stalls important decisions due to overthinking and over-analyzation. Just because a software offers 200 reports and connects to your laptop, iPhone, iPad, smartwatch, car and toaster, it doesn’t make the program better or more necessary.

Be wary of “shiny-toy syndrome” and make sure you’re getting the information you actually need. The most successful self-storage operators use their reports to feed timely and critical information into their own management system, and then chart the best course of action for their facilities. Again, don’t get caught up in a sea of data. Identify the most important information, and then act on it.

Matthew Van Horn is a member of the operations team at Reliant Real Estate Management LLC, a full-service self-storage management company specializing in acquisitions, feasibility studies, management and joint ventures within the self-storage industry. He’s also president of 3 Mile Domination, a full-service self-storage marketing and strategy company. For more information, visit www.storesmart.org and www.3miledomination.com.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Van Horn

Founder, Black Swan Storage Advisors

Matthew Van Horn is the founder of Black Swan Storage Advisors, which specializes in self-storage consulting, feasibility studies, underwriting and investment analysis, site selection, and facility management. To reach him, call 855.720.6030 or email [email protected].

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