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Gabfocus Session | Choosing Your Property Management Software

Choosing Your Property Management Software

Explore the different PMS systems, what they do best, and how operators are using them to run their facilities. 

Your PMS is the hub of your self storage business. How do you know which features matter most for your facility? We'll explore the different PMS systems, what they do best, and how operators are using them to run their facilities.

Featured Speakers: Steven Jeffers, Brian Ward, & Erika Weidman
Moderators: Melissa Huff & Tommy Nguyen

Category: Operations & Technology
Focus: Owners & Operators
Aired: March 24, 2022
Duration: 1:19:38


If you don't have time to watch the whole Session, here are some of our favorite parts:

  • At 08:52, Steven, Brian, and Erika discuss the parts of their Property Management Software (PMS) that they love
  • At 14:35, the panelists talk about which parts of their PMS they would change or improve
  • At 21:17, the panelists each break down how their PMS assists in the online rental process
  • At 31:27, Steven and Brian share how they implemented online rentals using their PMS, prior to the need for contactless trends in recent years
  • At 36:17, our experts share how they handle tenants labeled "do not rent" when they rent online
  • At 41:16, the panelists discuss how they handle access control through their PMS, including password management
  • A 47:55, Erika shares how her PMS has integrated with her lock system
  • At 51:27, the panelists break down how each of their PMS systems helps communicate with tenants
  • At 57:43, the panelists talk about which reports they think are important and look at regularly
  • At 01:03:34, Steven, Brian, and Melissa share their experiences of switching to different PMS systems
  • At 01:12:21, our experts answer the Question of the Week!

Question of the Week

We asked our experts: What features does your property management software have that you couldn’t live without?

"It can seamlessly take the tenant through our entire rental process and send them automatically their email of all of their information, it can capture their ID, it can get everything done without us having to do anything. We will check in with them later, but people can roll up to our parking lot, scan our QR code, fill out all of the stuff, and move right in." - Erika Weidman
"When Sitelink came out with eSign, that was a game changer, not only for how many trees we don't have to cut down to running eSign through online leases. Being able to take a phone call and instead of saying, 'Well, I'll be in tomorrow' and you can potentially lose that sale, you can automatically capture that sale by sending it to them right now." - Brian Ward
"For Sitelink, it's the shortcut to merge accounts. For StoreEdge, the texting within the system because people check their texts a lot more than they check their emails. We get higher A/R conversions than sending out emails, instead we can just send texts right out from the system." - Steven Jeffers

Gabfocus Takeaway

Your property management software plays a key role in your self storage operation. While the options may seem overwhelming, it is important to keep your customers and managers in mind when choosing. Think about communication with tenants, reporting, and ease of use from a manager's perspective. No matter your choice, our experts agree, that the system can't do the work on its own. Your hand in managing the software will ensure the success of your business!

What are Gabfocus Sessions?

Gabfocus Sessions are virtual workshops for self storage owners, managers, and operators. Brought to you by the team behind Gabfest: StoragePug and Affordable Storage Guys Management.

Each session features hand-picked industry pros who will dive deep into relevant topics surrounding our industry, share best practices, and explore trends in the market. It's our hope that these sessions help you navigate your self storage business better during these uncertain times.

Want to learn more about self storage? Join us on select Thursdays for Gabfocus.

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Questions Answered in this Session

  1. How does your facility handle renting a unit online and what role does your PMS play?
  2. How do different PMS systems tackle renting a unit online? What are the pros and cons?
  3. What are the most important features of renting a unit online for your facility?
  4. What are the major pain points of. renting a unit online and does software help (for you and your customer)?
  5. How does your facility handle moving in and what role does your PMS play?
  6. How do different PMS systems tackle moving in? What are the pros and cons?
  7. What are the most important features of moving in for your facility?
  8. What are the major pain points you experience and does software help (for you and your customer)?
  9. How does your facility handle tenant management and what role does your PMS play?
  10. How do different PMS systems tackle tenant management? What are the pros and cons?
  11. What are the most important features of tenant management for your facility?
  12. What are the major pain points you experience and does software help (for you and your customer)?
  13. What are the most important reports that your PMS provides that you look at regularly?
  14. What features does your property management software have that you couldn’t live without?

Live Poll Results: What tools are most important to provide to your employees?




Meet your speakers

Steven Jeffers

Steven Jeffers

Bee Safe Storage

Website: https://www.beesafe.com/
Email: sjeffers@cipconst.com

Brian Ward

USA Storage Centers

Website: https://www.usastoragecenters.com/
Email: bward@usastoragecenters.com

Erika Weidman

Premier Pines Storage

Website: https://www.premierpinesstorage.com/
Email: erika@premierpinesstorage.com

Got questions or comments for the panelists?

Our panelists will be happy to answer any questions you have. We hope you enjoyed this Gabfest Session. Talk soon!

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Resources from this session

Awesome Quotes

“Once your operation is in place, you can become more dynamic with your pricing, but that requires data. You need some method of being able to record the data that you need to know whether your price is in the right place - whether you need to move it up or start giving some concessions.” - Warren Lieberman
“I never want to downplay to what someone else is doing. I'm better than they are, then I'm going to be worth a higher price. That's what value is. If you go out to a restaurant and get really good service, would you go back? Yes! What if it was pricier? You'd still go back because you got better service and a better product.” - Jim Mooney
"It's good to be informed on your competition. I don't want to ignore them, but I don't want to respond too strongly to them either." - Warren Lieberman
"We did a survey of 10,000 facilities on their pricing. We found out that two-thirds of those operators didn't change the price of a single unit of the course of a month." - Warren Lieberman
“Rate increases and value pricing are the number one ways to grow your revenue.” - Jim Mooney
"Tenants in more convenient units tend to be less price sensitive." - Warren Lieberman
"The size of the unit is only one aspect of what people are willing to pay for." - Warren Lieberman


Foundational marketing strategies to have in place - whether leasing up or stabilized:

  • Website
  • Set up listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Apple Maps)
  • Social Media
  • Establish Local Partnerships

Lease up marketing strategies:

  • Lead Generating Strategies (like digital ads)
  • Aggregators (Sparefoot, Storagefront, etc.)
  • Awareness Campaigns (like billboards, flyers, and sponsorships)

Your average customer value
Find the average stay length of all tenants. Next take your economic occupancy and divide by how many units you have. That will tell you what the average customer pays.

Multiply the average length of stay by what the average customer pays, and that's the average value of a customer.

For example, if a customer stays for 12 months and pays $100 per month, then their value is $1,200.

Your average lead value

Figure out your closing rate (or conversion rate) i.e. how many leads do you turn into tenants? Multiply that by your average customer lifetime value to figure out what your leads are worth. 

Pro Tip: see which lead sources are converting the best. It may be that certain sources have a higher conversion rate, so those leads are worth more to you than a source that barely converts.

Typical Lease-up timeline

According to our panelists, it's typical to see a 3-4% increase each month, putting your facility at 36% after the first year, and 72% after the second.

Alternately, you can look at your lease up goals through the lens of your units, aiming for 20 units rented per month.

For Nick and StorageMax, they pro forma their economic occupancy at 85% with their sweet spot at 92%.

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