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January 21, 2022
Maybe you’ve heard the term PMS thrown around, or maybe this is your first time hearing about it. Either way, there is a lot to learn when it comes to self storage property management software! It’s not uncommon for self storage owners, operators, and managers to just barely dip their toes into their PMS without taking full advantage of everything this quintessential self storage software has to offer.
What is a self storage PMS?
Self Storage property management software (or PMS) is robust software designed to help you run your self storage business. A PMS typically combines various features centered around operations, business management, accounting, and other aspects of a self storage business.
There are many different self storage management software offerings available, and not all of them are complete PMSs. Some self storage software solutions are geared towards specific aspects of your business—say, Bluetooth self storage unit access—while a PMS is a broader kind of software that addresses your basic needs. Self storage property management software should make virtually every aspect of running your self storage business easier.
Now that we’re all on the same page about what self storage property management software is, what exactly does it do?
There are two essential parts to your self storage business: tenants and units. If you have nothing else, you at least need self storage units and tenants to rent them. It should make sense, then, that self storage property management software treats those two things as the backbone of its tools.
When it comes to tenant management, a PMS can help you in many ways.
The software keeps records of your tenants with important information. It can hold details such as rent status and gate codes, and it can even help you with move-ins. The tenant onboarding process is an important part of your business, and self storage software can make sure you’re completing every step while also communicating information to your tenants in an effective way.
By properly utilizing your self storage property management software, you turn it into a go-to database that holds all of the information you and your team could possibly ever need on a tenant!
The same can be said for units. Many self storage PMSs make unit management easy with a variety of unit views such as spreadsheets and customizable facility maps. You can easily manage your units in whatever way helps you process the information you’re seeing. Depending on the PMS you use, you can easily see which units are vacant versus rented, see units that are approaching the end of their current lease, and make adjustments to unit pricing.
Better yet, these things work in tandem as they’re built into the same software. You can usually access the same information multiple ways, letting you access tenant details right from their unit view instead of needing to cross-reference multiple spreadsheets or documents!
Pug Pro Tip: Most self storage property management software has a built-in notes function for units and tenants. You can make use of these notes to keep a record of your relationship with a tenant beyond their basic information, allowing you to view that entire history at a glance and turn your tenants into champions.
Whether you own a single local self storage facility or dozens of facilities across the country, you’re still running a self storage business. The key part of that description, in this case, is business. Businesses are complicated animals that require a lot of time management, organization, planning—the list could go on. But to put it simply, running a business requires a lot of one specific thing: work.
We all know it, and for many of us, it’s not the part we look forward to every day.
That’s alright! Your PMS is literally designed to make that work easier on you. Whether it’s onboarding new tenants, keeping track of documents, or handling electronic leasing, most property management software has the tools for a variety of these business management-related tasks. In fact, most of them even have a tool for task management itself. Yes, a PMS is even designed to keep you ON task in addition to making those tasks more manageable.
Here’s a shortlist of what facets of business management can be made easier by a PMS:
Pug Pro Tip: Choosing the right PMS and properly training your team to use it will make the day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year of running a business a whole lot easier.
"If you don’t make sure that your team is properly educated, they’ll try to find answers on their own." - Melissa Huff, Gabfocus: Get Smart
At the end of the day, one of the most important parts of your business is making money to stay in business. That’s where billing comes in. Sure, you probably already know what billing is as a concept revolving around invoices, but there is so much more to it than just that!
Billing is a broad topic. Your self storage property management software can help with many aspects of billing such as:
It looks obvious once it’s written down like that, right? In your mind, that all probably fits into a neat little “billing” bucket. The bucket really minimizes what it takes to handle the billing for your self storage business, though! Each of those billing-related tasks takes up actual time and adds to our mental burdens.
So, why not simplify things with your PMS?
Most PMSs have a wide variety of billing-related tools built into the software. Instead of tasking yourself or another member of your team with keeping track of tenant accounts and sending them payment reminders or assessing late fees, why not just make that all automated? Relieve the burden on your team and make the most out of your PMS by letting it handle these processes! Not only will it free up time for other tasks that can’t be automated, but it also can keep reminders and other processes more consistent!
Pug Pro Tip: Sometimes, people just don’t pay because they’ve got a lot on their plate and forget. Using your PMS to send automated payment reminders via text and/or email can help make sure they stay current—and keep both you and them happy!
What is marketing?
Marketing takes so many forms that it’s basically formless. But we aren’t talking about marketing campaigns, word of mouth, advertisements, and other front-end marketing efforts here. We’re talking about the back end of marketing, where you take all of the rewards from those marketing campaigns and make sure they actually pay off.
So how does your PMS help you with marketing?
The two main ways that the most popular PMS can help your marketing efforts are lead management and price management.
All of the ads, Google reviews, SEO, and other forms of marketing you do (especially those that maybe you should spend less time on as it is) are a whole lot less effective than they could be if you aren’t properly managing your leads and prices.
For example, what happens if you get 20 leads a month only to lose track of 90% of them? Once they start looking, future self storage customers move fast. It’s not unlikely that you lose that lead if you take too long to follow up on it. That’s a lot of work and organization for someone to handle manually on top of all of the other duties they have. So why not let the self storage software you likely already have—your PMS—take some of that burden off your plate?
In another example, is it really worth it to be at full occupancy if your rates are significantly lower than everyone else in the area? Raising rates and making use of value-based pricing are both key to making your self storage business as successful as it can be! Some PMS will automatically calculate things like value pricing for you, allowing you to advertise higher rates for more valuable units without having to do the calculations yourself.
Pug Pro Tip: Lead management and value-pricing will help make sure you get the most out of ALL marketing efforts. Take a look at some other ways you can get the most from your leads with Insights.
Security is important when it comes to the perception of your self storage facility. But how does your PMS help with security?
Self storage property management software can help with facility management, but it isn’t going to run your cameras or walk your halls. What a PMS commonly CAN do is help improve controlled access to your self storage facility.
Security doesn’t just mean motion sensors and cameras. It also means access. Secure access means making sure the right people are able to access your facility and their storage unit while keeping the wrong people out. This is important on both a gate and unit level, and your PMS can help track this access. Whether it’s making sure the wrong people aren’t getting in, knowing which units need to be overlocked, or helping a tenant regain access that they deserve, self storage software makes this painless! Paired with software that specifically controls your facility’s gate, most self storage PMS will manage things like gate codes that are assigned to your tenants. Basically, it keeps you from having to keep a manually-updated list or spreadsheet tracking different tenants and their gate codes and access status.
Sometimes, your property management software might even integrate with additional software and hardware specifically designed to tackle security.
Pug Pro Tip: There is a lot of self storage security software in the industry, and some of them may even integrate with your current PMS. From smart access to contactless entry, self storage software can help improve your facility’s security.
How often do you get in touch with your self storage tenants?
The answer should be “fairly often.” Whether it’s documents and reminders during the onboarding process, requests for reviews, former customer surveys, payment reminders, holidays greetings, or other important announcements, it’s important to stay in touch with your tenants.
Your PMS can usually help you manage communication with tenants in various ways. Popular property management software often has built-in customer email and texting capabilities. Some also include the ability to track inbound and outbound calls between your team and tenants.
Even if you’re not going out of your way to send seasonal emails or add a personal touch to your communications with customers, you’re going to need to be in contact for business-related issues. Let your PMS make that easier for you to track and organize!
Pug Pro Tip: Communication is important, and your self storage property management software can save time and increase efficiency by helping you automate texting and email correspondence.
The last thing you should know about your self storage PMS and its capabilities has more to do with other self storage software. That’s software integrations, and specifically how your PMS can integrate other popular software.
Even with a robust and powerful PMS, the chances are very high that you’ll have multiple software packages running under the hood to make your self storage business hum. From accounting software to call centers, and from SEO analytics tools to your on-site kiosk, there are so many useful products out there to help you run your business.
It’s even easier when your self storage property management software can integrate with that other software!
The industry's most popular property management software tends to incorporate integration with a variety of the most popular software used by their own clients. This means you have to do less manual legwork when working with both programs. For example, imagine having a bookkeeping software that automatically pulls information from your PMS instead of having you type the information into it yourself for every single client. Or, imagine your PMS sending relevant information to your marketing platform, allowing you a smoother lead tracking process.
Integrations are important to make sure you get the most efficient use out of all the different software packages you use for your business. Sometimes it’s worth it to use other software that doesn’t integrate, but it’s always worth checking out what does integrate.
Pug Pro Tip: Software integration is extremely convenient and saves a lot of time, but sometimes it’s worth it to go with software that can’t integrate. Always weigh the pros and cons for what your business and your customers need!
If a PMS is so important, you can be sure that there are plenty out there to choose from. Here are some of the top industry picks you should know about. Maybe you even use one yourself!
Did you learn anything about your PMS? Want to learn more? Here are some posts for you to check out: