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July 1, 1998

4 Min Read
Hi-Tech Develops New Software Program

CORPORATE PROFILE

Hi-Tech Develops New Software Program

By Tom Brecke

When Hi-Tech, the makers of the Mini-StoragePlus management software system, decided tocreate a Windows-based software program nearly three years ago, the company tried a novelapproach: It got a little help from its friends.

Mike Richards, president of Kailua, Hawaii-based Hi-Tech, recruited more than 20self-storage-industry veterans to form an advisory committee to attain feedback on whatwould become Hi-Tech's newest software offering: RentPlus. The committee, made up ofoperators, owners, managers and construction personnel, among others, offered input toHi-Tech during the design process of RentPlus. The group helped the 15-year-old companybetter understand what today's self-storage community is looking for in managementsoftware.

"We looked for a cross-section of skills and experience," says Richards."What we did for more than a year was send out questionnaires to this group saying,'This is what we're thinking of doing. What are your thoughts about this particulartopic?'"

The questionnaires ranged from such software-specific topics as the move-in process towhat size print works best when reading a print-out.

"In this way, we got a lot of people involved in the design process and it wasvery much a team effort as to the final design of our program," he says.

RentPlus Is Born

What resulted was a program that Hi-Tech began shipping earlier this year and has beenmet with rave reviews, according to Richards.

He says the RentPlus is very visual--a key to software programs that Hi-Tech attemptedto build on--and offers several features, such as its color facility map that allows theuser to click on an individual unit on the computer screen and be able to see itsimmediate status. If the unit is occupied, Richardson says all of the current renter'sinformation appears on the screen, including their account, and gives the user the optionto take payments, move the occupant out or change an address.

"When they're looking at the screen, they see a map of their facility, where thevarious units are laid out in the relative size, how they are laid out and where thecorridors and aisles are," explains Richards, who adds that the units on the screenare color-coded as to their status. "What we've done is make it a very visualexperience to run your facility. You're basically looking at a map of your facility andanything you want to do, you find the unit, click on it and off you go."

RentPlus also comes with a map editor that allows operators to place and drag unitsaround the screen to match the facility's alignment. It also works with multi-floor andmulti-building designs, as well.

i871gr2.gif (27939 bytes)

Accommodation

Another feature of the new RentPlus system is its ability to handle rental periodsother than monthly. Whether it's daily, weekly or monthly, RentPlus will process any timeperiod the tenant wishes.

For Richards, this function is all part of adaptability and customer service that hasbecome so crucial to being competitive in the industry.

"One of the key points we tried to program into the whole thing was the ability toaccommodate all your different customers with whatever they want. For most systems, youchoose whether the customer will be first-of-the-month or anniversary billing. WithRentPlus, you can set them up to be due on any day," he says. "We also have afeature that allows you set-up different terms for different customers. For example, youmay have a government account that is net-30 days, but you don't want them getting latecharges and notices that other customers would get. So you can set it up so theywon't."

Other features on RentPlus include: Full accounting system, including general ledger and check writing Inventory control Interface ability with popular gate systems Reports and graphsSelf Storage Legal Review on DiscIn a separate venture earlier this year, Hi-Tech joined forces with D. Carlos Kaslow,author of the Self Storage Legal Review, and Chateau Products to produce a CD-ROMof all articles published in the newsletter. With Hi-Tech writing the computer fileand Chateau Products handling sales and distribution, the CD-ROM will include all of thenewsletter's past articles in an easily cross-referenced Windows Help File format. i871gr3.gif (12410 bytes)"You type in a topic or a key word. It will look for that and display a list ofall the articles that talk about that topic," says Richards. "If I lived in thestate of Florida, I might type in the word 'Florida,' and it may come up with 20 differentarticles that reference that topic."Richards says the CD includes a glossary list of legal terms listed by Kaslow and willhave an annual update."Every year we will take the previous year's articles and put them on a CD andmake them available at a low cost to anyone who previously purchased it," he says."It's an ongoing item that allows you do stay up-to-date. It's an amazing resource tohave all of that information."For more information, call Hi-Tech at (800) 551-8324; fax (808) 261-4447; Web: <ahref="http://www.hitechsoftware.com">www.hitechsoftware.com.

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