Choosing The Right Solution to Manage Storage Operation
Having the right management software is crucial to operate an automated facility, and here are a few insights that will help you with your decision.
With the rise of holistic self-storage management software, running a facility effectively and efficiently has arguably never been easier. While running a business on ‘pen and paper is technically still possible, software solutions are far too advantageous to pass up. The challenge is choosing the correct software for your business that will suit your specific needs. Here are the most important decision-makers to help with that decision.
Key considerations to manage storage operations
Choosing to update your storage facility
Having the appropriate software for managing your self-storage business is crucial. Whether you own an established, expansive operation or have just started, you need to be able to find a suitable software solution for your own specific needs. Even if you’ve got existing, older software, it might be time for a change or update. Consider how old the software actually is, and how often it gets updated. If it’s been a while since the last update, it might be time to move on to newer, more complete software. Another factor to consider is if you find yourself completing tasks manually when you should be able to complete them more easily or even automatically through software, it’s definitely time for an upgrade.
If you’ve made the decision to get new software, make sure you do it early, and before your existing program begins to slow down or stop working. Also, make sure that there’s enough time to implement the new software before the existing one no longer fits your needs as a business.
Non-negotiable software features
When researching potential replacements, there are features that should be considered non-negotiable, or dealbreakers. These include customer relationship management, task management, pricing and discounting, communication, accounting, reporting and facility oversight tools. If you come across programs that lack these basic and essential features, it’s advised you look elsewhere. On top of this, your chosen system should be easy to integrate with other systems in your facility such as access and security. Having your various operational systems integration is key, and will make your operation much more efficient.
Given the recent pandemic, contactless features should also be a priority. These include contactless payments, as well as contactless move-in/move-out options. Another key consideration is payment options. Choose the right one, and both you and the customer will be rewarded with a more enjoyable experience, making resolving payment issues much easier for both sides when they do occur.
Cloud-based or standalone?
A fundamental consideration when researching software solutions is whether they will be cloud-based or standalone. Standalone software through Windows was the dominant format and is still used today, albeit much less popular. In a standalone system, your facility’s data, as well as the software will be stored locally on a computer, with backups being done manually onto external hard drives. On the other hand, cloud-based software solutions mean your data will be stored on external servers and networks, allowing it to be duplicated among separate facilities if needed, or in the future.
Standalone software faced a decline primarily due to being prone to malicious attacks or freak accidents that lead to data loss. Cloud-based technologies mean that your data is constantly available, and isn’t tethered to a single location or device, making it much safer in the case of an accident or disaster. Having your software hosted online also means you get updates automatically and allows other contemporary software providers to integrate easily with your system. On the whole, cloud-based software provides more favourable advantages, but some still may prefer standalone software due to operational preferences.
Another consideration when choosing software is understanding whether it can handle and adapt to the speciality storage options that your facility might provide. While all software should be equipped to deal with basic pricing for units and locks, some won’t be able to manage variable pricing for speciality items such as electricity hookups for RV storage, or won’t provide the correct data field for vehicle registration or RV insurance. Make sure that the software you choose is able to effectively manage the various speciality services you offer. If you provide other types of services such as mobile storage, wine storage or valet storage, these will add further feature requirements to consider.
Ease of use
Aside from the features it offers, the software you choose should also be user-friendly and easy to use both for you and the customer. Even if a program has all the features and more, it will only be effective if you and your staff are able to navigate and implement it efficiently. Most providers will offer a demo, which is a simple way to see if the software is right for you, or if the learning curve is too steep. While you don’t have to master the program during the demo, it will be helpful to identify some of the features you most enjoy, as well as play out possible situations to see if the software will be able to suit your needs.
While low costs are definitely a plus, it obviously shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of your decision. When comparing prices, don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. Make sure the quotes from providers include all the features you will require, and that they aren’t tagged on any asterisks or small text. You could potentially ask current users of the software if this provider has a history of raising costs. Consider also what benefits a new software could provide in terms of time savings as these could greatly outweigh what might seem to initially be a slightly higher monthly cost.
An important but potentially initially overlooked point to consider is whether the software localizes well to your needs. Consider whether it supports multiple languages, currencies, tax rates, payment gateways and accounting conventions. What works in one country may not necessarily be ideal for another.
Choosing the right self-storage software is at times tedious, and there is no one size fits all solution. However, knowing the size of your operation, thoroughly understanding the needs of the services you provide, as well as planning for your company’s future is the best guidance for choosing what management software is best for you and your business.
What can Storeganise do for your storage business?
Storeganise is a modern, cloud-based self-storage software that enables you to manage and fully automate much of your valet and self-storage business. Through our management portal, manage all your customer details and order history, automate move-ins and move-outs, create variable pricing models, and much more.