New Offerings In Self-Storage Software
By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
Computers have become such an integral part of any business that making sure the software needed to run your business is up to date has become as important as paying your bills. The self-storage industry has been fortunate in that there are many quality management systems from which to choose that focus only on the industry. As well, these companies have been on the forefront of ensuring their software is in line with the latest technology available.
While many operators still have a PC-based system, meaning one not connected to “the cloud”, most software development companies are developing software that is meant to be connected to the cloud.
The cloud just means the internet. If you’re still using a PC-based software system, operators and managers have the data from your facility stored on the one PC. The data on the cloud is stored on a server that allows anyone in your operation to access your data from any device. This means operators and managers can access it from anywhere, anytime, on any device.
One concern some operators have expressed is how the data is stored and who owns it. Most companies allow owners to retain ownership of their data.
Here’s a look at some of the new offerings (in alphabetical order):
Domico – Walnut Creek, Calif.
The flagship PC version, Domico 7.0, is still a popular product, says Rodney Vernon, vice president. There are some new updates available, including electronic leases, which allow operators to have the lease as an electronic copy online. “This helps with the paperless office, which is becoming more popular,” says Vernon.
Coming down the line, Domico plans on adding more variety with credit card payment processing options.
Domico Cloud is the newest product offered by the company. “It is a management software that will look, feel, and report similar to what our customers have been using for decades,” says Vernon. “We knew we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
Domico Cloud will use a widely known platform. “We wanted to make sure it will work with any call centers and kiosks out there,” says Vernon.
Domico Cloud will offer CRM lead tracking ability, as well as the ability for the owners/operators to download their data and run analytics. “It’s an extraordinary fast tool; they can get it and look at it within minutes,” says Vernon.
Domico Cloud is in final beta testing and should be released this summer.
Empower Software Technologies Inc. – Murrieta, Ga.
Storage Commander V5 is a product which Thomas Smith, president/CEO, says has served the self-storage industry well. It has been updated and upgraded, including offering the cloud component. “Our major focus is the cloud based since this will be the future of technology,” says Smith.
The company’s storage platform is well-known and reliable. “Our platform has servers all over the world, but everyone connects to the same server; if there is a server close, it helps it run faster,” Smith says.
emphasizes that owners/operators have ownership of their data as well. The key
advantages to the software include:
1. Gives the customer all the advantages of a browser-based operation with power and features of a client-based operation.
2. Distributed data redundancy.
3. On-site backup data.
4. Powerful for tracking late customers.
5. Work orders are built into system.
6. It has a built in CRM.
Be on the lookout for Storage Commander V6, which will be released in September. Smith said that product will have a powerful international module as well as handle marine and RV parks and apartments.
E-Soft Sys – Blue Bell, Pa.
Self Storage Manager is a full management system that has undergone many upgrades, including going to the cloud.
Self Storage Manager has all the bells and whistles of any premium management software product, including keeping track of leads and determining the ROI on ad campaigns. “It’s a full solutions software for self-storage operations,” says Kat Shenoy, president/CEO.
Self Storage Manager optimizes all the software for mobile devices and can do a walk through using an Android app and create work orders while operators/managers are on the property.
“You don’t need to be connected to the internet to do the walk through,” says Shenoy. “You can do the walk thru and come back to the store and connect to a tablet and upload and auto synch.”
One of the highlights of Self Storage Manager is two-way texting, which Shenoy says generates four to five times more response than an email, especially with younger customers.
The newest idea in development is an app that will allow customers to use reservation system and payment processing from their own mobile devices.
The app should be released by the end of the year.
SiteLink – Raleigh, N.C.
The flagship product for SiteLink is SiteLink Web Edition, a cloud-based complete management software system. The software installs on the PC and connects to the database. Chuck Vion, marketing director, says the company will continue to upgrade and support this popular product.
The latest software, SiteLink myHub, runs on PCs and Macs, as well as on phones and tablets and allows anything with an internet connection to access the same data as what is on a store’s SiteLink Web Edition.
The latest offering is an enhanced interactive 3D site map. “We have one on the web edition, but this will take them to the next level,” says Vion. “The map will allow a manager to see vacancies and move a customer in quickly.”
Another enhancement is allowing a site to use virtual terminals inside myHub. “They don’t have to choose our payment processing system; they can do an outside system,” says Vion. “They can go into a virtual terminal and look at their data as opposed to logging into a third-party site and do one report to reconcile.”
Other benefits of myHub include lead enhancement applications and continuing to evolve text messaging.
Space Control Systems, Inc. – Nevada City, Calif.
“One of the things about our product is that it’s easy to learn and easy to use,” says Kevin Taylor, president. “A lot of properties have a lot of turnover and you really don’t want to have to invest a lot of time in training.”
Onsite is the flagship product for Space Control and is an updated, web-based version of what the company released 34 years ago. “We’ve continued to build on the product after talking to a lot of self-storage owners,” says Taylor. “The latest version was basically rebuilt from scratch.”
Onsite is the management system software, while the complimentary product, Insight, is the data reporting and analysis piece. “The owner or manager sets up the parameters and we a lot of the analysis,” says Taylor.
Texting ability was added several months ago.
They most recently released a new version on a new web platform, which Taylor says should allow for better compatibility on mobile devices. The new version allows managers to easily search for a recent payment and go back to any single day to retrieve data. Operators also own all their data and can regularly access reports.
Yardi Systems – Salt Lake City, Utah
Yardi Systems offers three products for the self-storage industry. Store, which was gained in an acquisition in 2014, is a complete property management system.
Yardi Voyager is a web-based, fully integrated platform for larger portfolios to manage operations, execute leasing, run analytics, and provide innovative tenant services. Both Store and Yardi Voyager are ideal systems for the mid-sized to large multi-site operators.
Yardi Breeze is a smaller app says James Hafen, general manager. “It is more cost effective and doesn’t have the asset classes as the other software.”
Hafner says it is very intuitive and has a built-on full accounting package. Hafen added that a lot of effort is going into Breeze. “We have development teams on all of our products, but Breeze is really a refreshing approach to storage,” says Hafen.
Breeze gives operators the ability to have a full accounting system without having to purchase a third-party accounting system. “It comes with built-in portals and web processor allowing customers to come in and make payments,” says Hafen. “It’s an elegant and complete solution for self-storage operators to run their business in a professional manner.”
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is a freelance journalist based in the Ozark Mountains. She is a regular contributor to MiniCo’s publications. Her business articles have also appeared in Entrepreneur, Aol.com, MSN.com, and The Kansas City Star.