Enterprise, spreadsheets, accounting software or simple Facility Management Software – Which one is for me?

“Can I have an extra piece of Chicken with my 3-piece pack?” – You might think that is a simple request at the local takeaway. When the person says “No”, that’s because there is no button on the Point of Sale Terminal for it. No one thought that someone would want an extra piece of chicken!

In tech speak, we call this an “edge case” – an instance where the boilerplate standard approach doesn’t fit how the software was built. 

In Self Storage terms, the business is pretty simple. We rent spaces, we vacate spaces, and we take payments. Surely that’s easy to sort out on a spreadsheet?

It might seem simple on the surface but in practice it is not!

As one example; Self Storage uses a host of billing methods… 

  • Anniversary
  • First of Month
  • Annually
  • 3 monthly
  • And more

This is where the complexity of Self Storage management starts, and facility management software (FMS) is the ideal solution to handling this (and many other self storage specific challenges).

OK – I see that I need a self storage FMS, but which one do I need? 

Not all Self Storage software is the same

There are many types of Self Storage software brands available to Self Storage operators, from simple browser-based software with basic features right up to enterprise software that is fully featured. Do your homework to assess your needs. The price should be the last thing to consider. Price is not an indicator of value, especially if your FMS software does not perform well.

What’s the matter with accounting software?

Accounting software is designed to issue invoices. Whilst it can issue invoices, it cannot deal with prorated charges for changes of spaces or recurring billing. If you use it, your income will be reported with cash or accruals, with no management reporting of key areas like discounting and marketing and no integration to popular online move-in tools. 

Our unique tax rules

When GST was introduced on 1 July 2000, our tax laws changed Self Storage operations overnight. Storage fees were required to be inclusive of tax. This change, whilst on the surface, appeared simple, caused a lot of operators using US-based software to suffer a fair amount of grief. Whilst the US has had systems to deal with federal and State-based tax, the way the tax calculations were calculated was different from Australia. Let’s use an example:

Rent is $100 per month, including tax. The software reports that $10 is the GST amount. Many FMS software packages still operate this way. 

Actually, $100 rent, including GST should report the tax as $9.0909. Yes, that’s right, to four decimal places. Without four decimal place calculations, reporting cannot be accurate. 

FMS software like SiteLink Web Edition calculates this tax correctly, ensuring overpayments are not made to the ATO. Over time, this mistake can add up to less money in your pocket. GST is one-eleventh of the total of the invoice, not + 10% GST. There is a difference between these. 

Edge cases in Self Storage

Self Storage is full of edge cases. In an ideal world, FMS software would not have to deal with these edge cases. However, Self Storage front-line staff have to deal with edge cases every day. Enterprise FMS software is more sophisticated; it can deal with these edge cases, adding flexibility to your business.

“‘But I’m only a small site”!  It’s a myth that small sites should not have the same issues as large sites. The amount of spaces is irrelevant when you can’t get calculations right or tax reporting is inaccurate. Small sites can compete fairly and squarely with larger sites. 

Here are examples of features of Enterprise grade FMS that really make a difference to your Self Storage business, large or small. 

  • Integrations – The enterprise-grade software will work with most add-ons like gate systems, online move-ins, accounting packages and payment processors.
  • Reporting – Tax accurate reporting to 4 decimal places, and SOC1 level compliance
  • Rental flexibility – Rental plans that are sophisticated to offer discounts
  • CRM – Capability to use CRM tools to manage customers
  • Notice automation – not only invoicing but late notices and marketing notices
  • SMS capability
  • Facility mapping
  • Multi-site capability 
  • Head office oversight
  • Revenue Management – both new and existing renters
  • Password and operational security – with event logs
  • Correct pro-rate of daily charges – based on the calendar, not on basic assumptions
  • Exportable data for interrogation or archiving
  • Correct date format for our region
  • Call centre integration
  • Marketing and reservation systems
  • Online move-ins
  • Local, experienced technical support
  • Custom reporting
  • API – for custom development
  • Conversion capability from other brands

Can you do complex maths in front of a customer?

When a customer decides to change from one space to another, how do you work out the math?

  1. How far in advance were they billed?
  2. How much is the new space?
  3. Prorate the rent paid in advance and credit that to the new space
  4. Rent the new space
  5. Adjust the move-ins and move-out reporting for the month
  6. Change your income-charged records
  7. Change your credits
  8. Update monthly charges
  9. Issue new invoice
  10. Check your work.

Did you get it right? Do you use ‘paid to’ or ‘paid through’ calculations? Do you even know the difference between these? How did you work out the daily charge? Did you just divide the monthly rental by 30, 31 or 28 or even 29? Did you divide 365 by the days rented? 

If you do any of these you did it wrong!

The point here is not to be smart, but to point out that many thousands of hours have gone into the development of FMS programs available today for use by Self Storage operators; well less than a handful actually have them working right. 

While AI is the buzzword these days, there is no substitute for RE. “Real Experience” has developed the most awarded Self Storage software that exists today. Used by the smallest operators right up to the largest multi-site operators globally, more than 17,000 operators rely on SiteLink Web Edition. SiteLink is fully featured mature web-based software with a browser-based version, add-on capabilities, and accurate tried and tested data accuracy that stands the test of any scrutiny and is easy to use and is used by the majority of operators in Australia.   

When that customer walks in, who rented a space six weeks ago, with the first month free and $50 worth of boxes and wants to change spaces, buy some more boxes and pay six months in advance on a credit card, expect SiteLink Web Edition to work it out.

  • The tax will be right.
  • The prorated charges will be right
  • The invoice will be right. 
  • The reporting will be right. 

If you are using basic Self Storage software or spreadsheets, I will wait, but I do want the calcs to be right, I want the date on my invoice to be right, and I don’t have all day to wait. 

Take the pain out of renting spaces, and schedule a meeting with a SiteLink professional today! 

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