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Introduction to Self-Storage Software

Self-Storage Software
Martin Collier

By Martin Collier Consulant, Updated 17 May 2017

Self-storage facility rentals differ significantly from other types of property rental and therefore embody different management practices and procedures. This also means the need for self-storage software that is specifically designed to for the unique needs of this business in terms of functionality, such as payment options or tenant tracking.

The business model of self-storage software is thus unique with particular tasks that need to be addressed. While the early self-storage management software solutions were merely used for signing customers in and out, today’s specialised management software is expected to offer the flexibility of additional features such as gate access management and control, an online booking facility, the option to rent additional equipment or supporting sales of related products, for example packing materials or accessories and tools for moving goods.

Self-Storage Software Features

Leading self-storage software now offers the following common features:

Facility maps

Electronic facility maps are an important part of self-storage software and should come with a unique marking system - for example colour coding - that enables the facility manager to see the status of units at any given time. The marking system can show which units are in use, which are reserved but not in use yet and those that are vacant. Such facility maps can also be used as offline maps for describing the layout of the self-storage facility to new customers.

Specialised payment options

Rental schemes at self-storage facilities differ from regular property rental, in no small part as a result of the availability of additional services. This can make accounting more complex. Additional accounting-related features might include the option to accept a range of credit cards; manage deposits for rental items; or set up automatic customised recurring payments for customers. In some cases it might also be necessary to be able to lock out a customer for failing to pay on time.

Online access for customers

While some general property management systems might also offer online access for tenants, it is important that self-storage management software provides online facilities for existing or future renters alike. This online interface could allow customers to reserve a unit, manage their rental and it can also enable online payment through the system.

Gate access integration

Sophisticated self-storage management software offers an integrated gate access system, which allows the facility manager to provide a unique access code to all renters. This will allow customers to access their rented unit immediately but could also allow facility managers to record or review visits to units. The unique code can also enable managers to lock out individual customers if necessary.

Factors to Consider

It is of vital importance to every storage facility owner to find the management software that can best meet their unique needs.

Some factors to be considered in deciding to purchase self-storage software, include:

•       The time required to set up the system and train the management team.
•       Whether the system is PC-based or web-based, and who will be responsible for data backups.
•       Whether the new management software will be able to work seamlessly with other existing systems.
•       The system should be flexible enough to be updated in the future if circumstances change, for example when the facility is extended.
•       It is also important to know what kind of technical support is offered and when this will be available (for example only during working hours or 24 hours).

Self-storage software is highly specialised and it is therefore essential that you thoroughly research the market, prior to making a final decision. This will require a thorough understanding of the individual needs at each facility, matching these with the features offered by the various systems.

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