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April 22, 2022
Self storage operators are required to mentally juggle a hundred tasks at once – and we’re good at it!
That doesn’t mean we should rely on multitasking, memory-retention marathons when we don’t have to. Property Management Software, or PMS, is designed to run large parts of a self storage business so you can be freed up for important tasks.
Unfortunately, one of the aspects you’re still required to take care of is collections - every self storage operator’s favorite way to spend an afternoon. Though lien laws vary from state to state, odds are good you’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone trying to get in touch with tenants who are behind on their payments.
While you’re sitting there, listening to a robot say this number has been disconnected, you might wonder why your PMS can’t take over this part.
Part of the reason is that lien legislation hasn’t kept up with technology. Some states are starting to allow email as a valid form of notification, but others still require you to send certified mail. Most states still require you to post a description of the unit going to auction in the local newspaper.
Even if your property management system could call delinquent tenants and send collections emails, that wouldn’t meet the legal requirements in a lot of places. Many state associations are lobbying to change the laws, but that’s a very slow and uncertain process.
Call logging can do more than just help you out with collection calls, though. Call logging can help you manage your employees, ensure your customers are getting through, and reduce redundancy.
It’s important to recognize what your PMS actually can do to make the process easier. Most PMSs offer call tracking, and if you’re not already taking advantage of this feature, you should be.
Call tracking offers self storage operators several different benefits, especially when dealing with complicated lien laws and auctions. Some options can even record the calls when you make them.
Call logs are a fantastic way to protect yourself from legal liability. If a delinquent tenant ever tries to contest that they didn’t know they were behind on rent, call logs showing exactly how, when, and why you called can be powerful evidence for your side.
Pug Pro Tip: Call logging works best when it's automatic.
Adding more work to your collection call process isn’t the best way forward. No one wants to be making collections calls; whoever is doing the calling likely wants to get it over with as soon as possible. That means extra steps like filling out paperwork can end up shunted to the side, especially if you have multiple liens progressing at once.
This is where your PMS can be a big help. Many systems integrate your business phone line with the rest of your systems and make note of every call that comes in or goes out from it. Some even can record the audio of calls. This is the most intensive form of call logging and has the most potential to benefit self storage operators.
Not only can recorded audio be a strong piece of evidence that you did in fact contact the delinquent tenant, but it also enables you to go back later and double-check what was said. This can be a big boost outside of collections, liens, and auctions as well.
Self storage call tracking can help you prove that you’ve done your due diligence in collections. However, collections are only a small part of your business!
Self storage call tracking can help you out in lots of other ways if you get into the habit of using it correctly. Call tracking lets you see how effective your business has been in pursuing and nurturing leads.
Leads can be generated by your self storage website or by phone calls you and your managers answer. Self storage call tracking lets you see who called, when, and how quickly your business reached back out to the caller.
Maybe you can’t always reach out immediately. Maybe the phone always seems to ring when your front office is full of people needing help with their unit - or does it just seem that way? It’s important to know!
Call tracking gives you a way to see what time of day your customers usually call, which you can then compare to other metrics to see if you need to hire more help for busy times.
If all your managers utilize the call logging features in your PMS, you’ll have convenient ways to take notes about calls as well. For example, you’ll have a good place to add ‘do not call!’ to the profile of a cranky lead, or a note to ask a potential tenant about their new RV!
Call tracking also gives operators a way to check for mistakes that might have been made. If you’re arguing with a tenant who says you told them it was ok to pay late, but you don’t remember - you can check the call logs and see if there’s a chance it just slipped your mind.
This works especially well for operators managing multiple facilities. With call logging, you can rest assured that your managers are making the calls you’ve asked them to make and that all your potential customers are having their calls answered.
If you record your calls, you can even investigate and pin down misunderstandings and mistakes. Do you know how the big companies have automated messages that say “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes?” There’s a reason they do that, and a reason you might want to consider it. Call recording lets you listen back and see how your managers are interacting with your tenants and potential customers.
Good call logging also prevents annoying your customers with duplicate calls. If someone has already spoken to them, you may want to wait a while before calling back - call logging gives you a great place to accurately record your calls.
If your PMS doesn’t integrate with your phone system, call tracking will be harder. There are tools like our collection call sheet that can fill some of the gaps, and you can customize the sheet to fit your needs.
Self storage call tracking isn’t going to make or break your business, but if you can implement it, call tracking can offer some significant advantages.
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