[ by Markus Hecker, SiteLink Software ]
Evolution in technology leads to changes in software and hardware affecting all industries, including self-storage. Web-based software lets users work from anywhere, better connect with tenants and eliminate servers, networking and backups. More than 25% of single- and multi-store operators have already migrated to web-based management software to harness the added features and value of the internet. As with any product comparison, it’s “buyer beware,” because web systems are not created equal. They should be designed from the ground up using more powerful databases such as SQL Server. They are usually safer, feature rich and more powerful than older products such as Microsoft Access. Web systems today also differ in the type of partners–like credit card processors and listing services–they offer. Some web systems bundle services and eliminate choice altogether by limiting operators to specific partners.
Feature Rich and Profitable
Web systems typically add a number of profit-boosting tools. They can optimize specials and limit them based on occupancy and unit size. Instead of raising rent once a year, web systems can filter out tenants monthly based on criteria such as the number of months since move-in or last rent increase. These small and gradual yet consistent rent changes drive up revenue by several percent. Some owners are skeptical whether the concept works in storage, but hotels, airlines and self-storage REITs have long proven its profit potential for years. Owners should insist that their web systems automatically share new rates and specials with other platforms like websites, call centers, INSOMNIAC kiosks and listing services. Reports and data should be available on any computer or portable devices like tablet PCs or smart phones, allowing operators to make accurate decisions more quickly.
Better Integrations and Choice in Partners
Some web systems offer a choice in partners like call centers, listing services, credit card companies and tenant insurance, so owners can shop for the best rates and services. Owners should compare those partners’ prices and services before choosing a web system. Some web systems are open platforms offering powerful APIs (application programming interface) to link to partners free of charge. Other systems may offer low subscriptions but cost owners more to operate because they bundle or limit choices to one credit card and insurance provider. Owners should insist on out-of-the-box, plug-and-play design and compare how much information a web system shares with these services. Good web systems share more data, such as tenant notes, histories, specials and revenue management pricing. As a result, partners like call centers deliver more reservations, rentals and payments.
Integrate Your Website, Increase Rentals
As consumers increasingly research and purchase goods and services online, storage owners use their program’s email tools and create more attractive, engaging websites to rent more. Web systems should support websites compatible with popular mobile browsers and devices like smart phones and tablet PCs. QR codes help to drive visitors to a store’s website. Owners should expect to offer payments by bank draft and credit card payments online. Online payments automate and shorten payment cycles, resulting in fewer waived late fees. Tenant responses improve when programs email or print more professional documents for invoicing, birthdays or credit card expirations, complete with images and live links to a store’s websites. Owners outsource printed mail to eliminate trips to the post office and to cut cost of mail. RPOST, Simple Certified, DocuSign and Late 2 Lien help to lower cost by automating document processing.
Making the Switch
More than 25% of stores have already migrated to web systems to better compete with users of older programs. Web systems are ideal for single- and multi-store operators alike: web integration and real-time access anywhere boost profits instantly and cost less than adding features one by one. Ask web software companies about reports documenting revenue growth from integrating websites, call centers and listing companies. If you are still using older software, contact web software companies for a demonstration. Ask them if they bundle services or how many choices in partner vendors they offer. Be sure to understand your software company’s data conversions, training and ongoing customer service so that you too can profit from a new program.
SiteLink is the leading provider of web systems with more than 6,500 installations of SiteLink Web Edition around the world. Single- and multi-store operators profit using SiteLink’s powerful tools and industry-leading partner vendor integrations. Contact SiteLink today for a free demonstration at firstname.lastname@example.org and (919) 865-0789 x1 or visit www.sitelink.com