7 Signs You Need Self Storage Management Software
Running your self storage business manually or on old tech? Here are some red flags that it may be time to embrace the latest self storage management software.
You’ve invested your time and money in a self storage business, but if the business isn’t running as well as expected, cumbersome processes and dated technology could be the problem. Is it possible to run the business without the latest dedicated software? The answer is yes, but with extremely limited results, far more cost, more hassle, and with more hands-on time required of you and staff.
So here are some business problems that indicate it’s probably time to modernize your operations and self storage management approach.
1. Managing inventory is difficult
If you have a large number of storage units and are having trouble keeping track of their occupancy statuses, self storage software can help you manage your inventory more effectively. It allows you to see quickly and easily which rental units are rented, available, and have a move-out coming up. And if a customer needs to switch from one unit to another, you can do it in seconds with any price differences auto-calculated for you and automatically applied to their next invoice.
2. You worry about site security
If you’re having trouble managing access to your facility, keeping track of who is coming and going, and feeling confident about the people renting space with you, self storage software can offer valuable peace of mind. It can automate the entire ID check and documentation process using bank level ID checks with facial recognition software. Not only can it check if the person renting is who they say they are, but also whether their ID is real! Likewise, today’s modern software allows you to automate tenant access remotely—sending access instructions once payment and contracts are received and even overlocking their units automatically if their payment fails.
3. Rentals have slowed
One of the biggest changes to the self storage industry has been the introduction of online rentals and payments. This has brought a sizable new challenge for established storage businesses that haven’t embraced this sales model—as they struggle to compete with the storage facilities in their area that have. We still find it absolutely incredible that we could book hotel rooms online with hotels.com back in 2002, yet there are still operators who are reluctant to show prices and allow customers the convenience of booking online. Not everyone is going to either want to book online or have the know-how to do so (ie aging clientele), but not even giving the functionality to anyone to rent online is madness. It means the entire sales process is built for the minority of prospective customers, rather than the majority who simply want to reserve and pay for their storage easily and conveniently at a time that suits them.
The best self storage management software provides online sales and payment processing alongside customer-friendly web pages and facility management, so everything is connected end to end. This means that even while you’re asleep or away on vacation, your storage business is able to take bookings and generate revenue. Then when the next billing cycle arrives, the software automatically issues invoices to your customers and pulls the recurring payment from their payment method on file.
4. You’ve been collecting software
If you’ve been operating for 10 years or more, you may be using desktop software as your core platform. These systems were great in their time, but not all have aged well. New features are released rarely, if at all. Or maybe installing updates causes too many issues and breaks your customizations, so you’re still running Version 5 instead of the latest Version 11. So to do all the jobs you need, you’ve started using other small software packages on the side. List them all out and you may be astonished by how many there are. Before building Stora, our CEO Gavin was using 14 different platforms to run his self storage businesses!
Not only can this software creep increase operational costs (by giving you more software to pay for), but it can complicate life for you and staff. It can create duplicate work as info is rekeyed in second and third systems. The extra software may have allowed you to digitize more business processes, which is good, but a time and motion review would show that it still takes minutes of effort to complete every single task instead of the milliseconds a modern single system would. And because it decentralizes your data, it creates lots of jumping back and forth between platforms when you need to find answers or get a complete picture of stats or business performance.
In contrast, modern comprehensive cloud-based software costs less upfront. It’s also always evolving and improving—typically releasing improvements monthly and quarterly, so you can be sure that you’re keeping up with technology and staying ahead of the competition.
5. Staff are confused, unhappy, or both
This could be down to the multiple systems you’re using—giving them more places to remember to check and more steps to remember to do with every task. When activity is happening in multiple platforms, it is also easy for two staff to unknowingly work on the exact same task, or alternatively leave a job or tenant unattended because one thinks the other is handling that rental—which can cause frustration and tension. But the majority of dissatisfaction comes down to the mind-numbingly repetitive admin that’s intrinsic in managing a self storage business. Creating and issuing invoices, processing and logging payments, and so on is not mentally rewarding work. It’s necessary, but it makes every day the same and a grind. And most staff want to feel like they’re using their brains and making a difference.
Self storage management software takes 99% of the manual, mundane tasks off of your team's plate so they can use their skills and experience in more stimulating ways that deliver real value.
6. You don’t increase prices
Many businesses are either too worried about doing increases or can't be bothered because of the hassle associated with it. When you use software, it’s quick to do and can even be automated for an instant periodic revenue boost.
7. Salaries are diminishing profits
Staff salaries are one of the biggest items on a P&L each month, so you want the revenue generated per salary to be healthy. One way to do that is to run your self storage business with zero staff. With today’s automation that’s entirely possible. But a staffed premises can also generate robust ROI. Imagine removing all of the menial tasks staff do daily. Who could be using that newfound time to help you improve marketing efforts to generate new business? Who could be your scout for vetting new locations for expansion? Who could be creating and managing partnership programs in your community? Who could be making your customer service and customer experience the best in town? Who could be managing facility modernizations? All of these are the higher-order tasks that drive growth and revenue and improve Employee ROI.
Self storage software will automate your low-complexity, high-volume work so staff can focus on what humans are best at—creative problem-solving and providing great human experiences.
The list goes on (rising customer complaints and customer service calls, increasing bad debt and higher delinquency rates, higher operating costs and lower margins, etc) but you get the picture. And of course all of these warning signs amplify when you’re a larger multi-site business with 10 or more facilities or even one spanning across several countries.
If you’d like to see how the latest technology can resolve these problems for your business, explore Stora’s market-leading self storage software and get a free trial. Or if you decide to shop around some more, use our guide to Choosing Self Storage Management Software to make sure you’re asking the right questions so you find the right fit for your business.
Cover photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash