Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Self Storage Software:

Should You Be Worried About Paying A Monthly Fee For Web-Based Self Storage Software?
I have been working with self storage facilities and selling web-based self storage software for almost 5 years now. One of the main concerns that comes up often in my conversations with self storage owners that are looking into buying a web-based software is, “Do I really have to pay a fee every month for as long as I use it?”. If you have not had any experience with web-based software or maybe have not been using any self storage software to manage your facility, then this is usually a concern. Whether it is a big concern or small concern it is definitely something that crosses the mind. Paying a monthly fee may seem foreign to some self storage owners. In the past, software was sold as a “stand-alone” disk. But is paying a monthly fee really a new concept? Is it really only web-based software that has ongoing costs? Will you have ongoing costs regardless of whether you choose a web-based or stand-alone program?
Lets take a look!

Here are some reasons you should not be worried about paying a monthly fee for web-based self storage software.

1- Ongoing costs are also part of a desktop or stand-alone software program!
The self storage software industry started with “desktop only” versions. Back then, the Internet was not fast enough and as widely used as it is now so a desktop version of software was the only choice for self storage operators. At that time, the hard reality of the situation was clear; building stand-alone software, maintaining the program, fixing bugs, and keeping up with innovations was expensive and it never ended! So, software companies that were building these programs had to figure out a way to keep making money on a desktop version of software.  When you purchase a self storage desktop software program, you will notice that you don’t get all the features or services by just paying the up-front fee. Most of the time you have to pay for upgrades, services, “extras” as you continue to use the program. The costs continue to pile up even after you have dumped a large amount of upfront money to purchase the software “outright”.

Here are some extra possible costs involved with a stand alone software program:

Process ACH- Automated tenant checking account withdrawal
Process credit cards through Software
Recurring billing module
Interactive Site Map
Tech Support
Phone Support
Software Version Upgrades
Website Building

 With web-based software, for the most part, everything is bundled into one monthly fee so you don’t have to worry about paying more as you continue to use the program. The up-front fee is also substantially less when you purchase a web-base software. I have talked to many facilities that are using “stand-alone” programs and after 5,6, and 7 years they are still paying yearly or monthly fees for customer support even after they paid large up front fees for the software years ago.

2- When your computer crashes you don’t have to worry.
Notice I didn’t say “if” your computer crashes, I said “when” your computer crashes. I have talked to countless people that have had their computers crash. Unfortunately, most of them lose their data and have to buy a new computer. One thing that is often overlooked when looking at stand-alone programs is that when your computer crashes, you not only lose your data but when you buy a new computer to replace the old one, the new computer comes with a new operating system making your old stand-alone program obsolete. For example, my computer at home is running Windows XP and my office computer is running Windows Vista. If I go and buy a new computer today, it will most likely have Windows 8 on it. Most stand-alone versions of self storage software are operating system specific meaning that they only work on certain computer operating systems. So, in the scenario of having your computer crash, you will have to buy the upgraded version of the software program so that it will work on the new operating system that came with your new computer. This will cost you money. The other thing to think about is, what if you were not backing up your data? Even if you upgrade to a new stand-alone that is compatible with your new operating system, are you going to have to start over from scratch? When you use a web-based software, you never have to worry about upgrading your computer, your computer crashing, backing up files, or updating software. You can access your software from any computer/device (including phones and tablets) that has an Internet connection.

3- Features of a web-based program are more than worth the potential monthly fee.
So lets assume that you can buy a stand-alone software program and not have any ongoing costs. Even if this was the case (which it is not), web-based software is far superior than stand-alone software. I like to look at the monthly fee as an investment into your business. Can you get more value out of your investment than the amount of money you put in? A web-based software will have a monthly fee but the features, ease of use, and the time it saves you will end up pumping more value into the business than the amount of money you put in.
Look at all the inclusive features a web-based software contains. You want to choose a program that can help your business make more money and be more successful. It is hard to find a stand-alone software that has the same features that a web-based program has. For example, what would happen if you purchased a stand-alone program and then wanted to connect it to a website so you can take online payments? Impossible. However, if you decided to purchase a web-based program, you would not need to spend more money integrating your website or hooking it to an online payment portal, everything is out-of-the-box ready to go!

Here are some of the reasons why people purchase web-based programs:

Manage, rent, and pull reports from anywhere on any device that connects to the Internet.
Customizable website that gives your tenants that ability to pay online.
The option and ability to rent storage units online through your website.
Online accounts for your tenants to print their own invoices and manage their own accounts online.
A website that is connected to your software and that gives you a web-presence for online marketing.
Ability to set tenants up on recurring billing, out of the box.
Ability to send email and text message reminders.
Don’t have to back up your data.
Don’t have to do anything when your computer crashes to get the software working.
The self storage industry is moving exclusively towards Internet, websites, online payments, renting online, and managing online. Make the decision now, “Am I going to keep up with my competitors and the demand my customers have for managing their account online, or am I just going to sit back and watch technology pass me up?”

Ken Hendrickson
Easy Storage Solutions