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July 12, 2022
Auctions are a headache.
We’d much rather our tenants just pay on time, make good use of their self storage unit, and move out with a smile (and 5-star review)! But no one has figured out how to get every tenant to pay on time - if you do, let us know.
Instead, we can focus on making the lien process as quick, painless, and accurate as possible. We’ll go over the different tools at your disposal and the ways you can employ them to make this unavoidable headache hurt a little less.
Lien laws and auctions are legally complicated, messy affairs that usually end up with the self storage operator (you) making less money than you would if they never happened. Lien auctions are also the only legal way for you to get all the stuff out of a delinquent tenant’s self storage unit.
Check out our Gabfocus session on online auctions and collections!
There are some ways to make the process easier, though! Not only are laws getting more flexible, your property management software may be able to connect with new online auction sites to help you auction off the units with the push of a button.
One of the reasons self storage liens and auctions are such a headache is that each state has slightly different laws regarding how your lien must proceed. For a while, some of the laws were antiquated and required you to post the auction listing in the local newspaper - not the best way to reach the masses these days.
The best way to figure out what your lien process needs to look like is to check with your state self storage association. Many of these associations offer legal services for members as well as helpful articles and explainers specifically for the self storage industry.
State self storage associations are also a great place to meet fellow operators and ask questions you may have about getting the lien and auction process nailed down. Plus, if you go to the state self storage conventions, you may run into the Pugs!
The best way to make your lien process easier, other than avoiding them as much as possible, is to connect your property management software with an online auction provider.
Online self storage auctions have taken over in recent years, providing a fantastic alternative to brick-and-mortar auctions that the self storage operator must run themself. Online self storage auctions run in every state, as well as in Canada, so not only are they easier for you, they reach larger audiences and can run for longer periods of time, meaning more people get a chance to see them.
Self storage auctions are not moneymakers for the operator - moving them online won’t change that. However, the bigger your final auction price, the more likely it is to cover the money you lost by having a delinquent tenant.
Of course, online auction sites also take a cut - so if you find yourself making less with online auctions than you did with handling it yourself, that might be why.
However, the biggest benefit online auctions provide is not that they might bring you a higher return on your liens - they make auctions easier. Many PMSs integrate with online auction sites, which means you won’t have to transfer a unit's information over to the website manually. This frees you up to take more pictures, clean the facility, or follow up on leads.
SiteLink works with many auction sites, and other companies, such as OpenTech Alliance, work with one or more preferred auction sites. Check with your PMS provider to see if there are any online self storage auction websites with which you can sync your PMS.
Not only will this alleviate a common headache, but it also frees you up to perform other tasks; after all, time is money.
If your property management software doesn’t talk with any of the online auction systems, don’t worry! There are some pieces of software made specifically to tackle this problem. For example, Late2Lien automates the entire lien process for you, which may be worth the investment if you spend a lot of time working with liens.
That’s the big determinant to consider; how much would automation help you, personally?
For some small self storage operations, there aren’t enough auctions going on to make extra software worth the investment. If you’re blessed with a facility full of tenants that pay on time, additional software won’t do you much good.
On the other hand, if you find yourself banging your head against the wall with auctions every other week, automating it might be a great way to increase your business’s productivity. Instead of doing data entry grunt work (which computers are great at), you can spend your time doing things computers can’t, like improving your business’s customer experience.
For more ways to optimize your self storage operation, check out these links: