Thursday, August 29, 2013

Self Storage Auctions & Software

So, unless you live under a rock, you should be familiar with the latest craze in the self storage industry.  Auctions have been a part of the self storage industry for a long time but they were not very popular until a cable network started a show called "Storage Wars".  When you watch the show, you only see the drama (most of it is added for ratings i am sure of that) and you never really understand how much work the owner/manager goes through to prepare for the auction.  Depending on where your storage facility is located, you have to adhere to the policies that the state government has put forth in regards to the order of procedures to make an auction happen.  If you manage 15-20 units it may be a simple task because the chances that one of your tenant gets a lien placed on his/her unit is pretty small.  But, if you have 200-300 units, it can seem like a full time job. 

Here is why it may seem like a full time job to manage auctions for 200-300 units...
1- The manager/owner needs to keep track of the tenants due date and then apply a late fee if the rent has not been paid on time.  This, in itself, can be a daunting task seeing as how 30-40% of tenants do not pay their rent on time. 
2- Once a late fee has been applied, the manager/owner needs to manage that tenants access to the gate at the facility so that the tenant is "locked out".  Normally there is a few day grace period after a late fee is charged before the tenant is placed in "locked out" status.
3- After the tenant has been past due for a certain time period (different depending on the state government policies) the owner/manager needs to place a lien on the tenant's unit to help satisfy the unpaid balance the tenant has on his/her account. 
4- The tenant must receive formal notice that the contents of his/her unit have had a lien placed on them
5- After the tenant has been informed of the lien, if he/she does not respond, the owner/manager needs to then notify the tenant that there will be an auction to help satisfy the unpaid balance the tenant has on his/her account. 
6- The manager must organize the auction by placing advertisements on the internet or in the newspaper
7- The owner/manager has to then hire and arrange for an auctioneer to come and perform the auction.

So...How does all of this fit in with self storage software?
Well, most of the above steps are hard to do unless you have a software program that will
1- Keep track of all of your tenants due dates
2- Automatically add late fees to tenants that are late
3- Classify and keep track of past due tenants
4- Notify tenants that they are late through email and text
5- Print lockout,lien, and auction notices automatically

There are also services like www.storageunitauctionlist.com and www.storagebattles.com that can help with the advertising of the auction. 

So, with the way technology has evolved and given the popularity of auctions now a days, why would you want to do all of that extra work by hand?  The answer to curing the auction workload blues for a manager/owner is signing up for a self storage management software program.