Newsletter for Fourth Quarter 2007
(October - December)
December 2007 - Issue 4
In This Issue
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It's the Holiday Season. It will soon be the end of the year. Along with all those New Year's resolutions and maintenance items that we schedule on significant calendar days so we won't forget (like changing the batteries in your smoke alarms) we've got some suggestions for computer maintenance. Mark it on your calendar and do it on a regular basis.

Then, Gilbert Bohen is addressing something near and dear to all self-storage operators. Are you getting enough Move-ins? What can you do to get more?

The New Year is a good time to think about a periodic cleanup of your computer. It's a machine like any other and will benefit from regular maintenance. First of all, there's no need to have programs on your system that you don't use. They're just taking up room and may be slowing things down. Review the programs that are installed---they're listed under Programs or All Programs from the Start button. If there are some programs that you don't use, get rid of them. Today's computers often come with a bunch of programs pre-installed. If you're never going to use them your computer would be better off without them. Go to Start/Control Panel/Add Remove Programs to un-install programs.

Disk Cleanup. When you are on the internet, the web pages you visit store programs and files in the Downloaded Program Files and Temporary Internet Files folders on your computer. They may be used while you're on that web page but aren't needed after you exit it. The Disk Cleanup utility will identify these unneeded files and get rid of them for you. From the Start button, select Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup.

Defrag your hard disk. When your computer is looking for a place on the hard disk to store a file it would like to find a nice big free spot and put the whole file there. But there may be only small spots left free so it has to store a bit here and a bit there. That slows things down when it needs to read that file and has to put it back together from a lot of little pieces. Defragging the hard disk is basically a big rearrangement of the file fragments. Everything is moved around so that files and programs are stored all in one piece whenever possible. It takes less time to read a file in one piece than to put a lot of pieces together. The longer you use your computer, the more fragmented the files become. For best system performance, defragging should be done on a regular basis---once a month is recommended. Your computer will run faster if you do.

But, it's going to take awhile---especially if you haven't done it for a long time (or never). So start it up when you can let it run for an hour or more. First, close all your programs. Then, from the Start button, select Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter. If you select the Analyze button it will show you the contiguous files and the fragmented ones. Then select Defragment.

This is all relatively simple computer maintenance but, if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, get someone who's more computer-savvy or call a professional. Get them to show you how to run Disk Clean and Defragment so you can run them on a regular basis.
Are you spending money and effort on advertising but not getting the return that you think you should in the form of new rentals? Maybe it's time to conduct a careful analysis of your advertising and marketing policies. First of all you need to pin down where the problem lies.
  • Are you not getting enough telephone calls?
  • Are you getting the calls but not converting them to rentals?
If it's the former, you have an advertising/marketing problem. If it's the latter, you have a different set of problems.

Advertising/Marketing: About 68% of your customers find you through the Yellow Pages, so this is critical. We covered this in more detail in our November 2006 Issue, but in brief:
  • If you're building a new facility, get your ad in the Yellow Pages before you open. Put a message on the phone saying when you expect to open.
  • Name your facility something that will put your listing at the front of the list. Sometimes sticking an A in front of your name will get you the first listing. Try for A Storage Ranch instead of Storage Ranch.
  • Get additional listings under Moving Supplies, RV Storage, etc.

For the other 32% that don't find you through the Yellow Pages:
  • Make sure your sign is as large as zoning allows.
  • People are attracted by color and motion; get a huge flag pole and flag; zoning will often allow this.
  • Trucks: Many self-storage facilities have their own trucks, which are rolling billboards. Some let tenants rent the truck; some let tenants use it for free. A better compromise is to lend it free for up to one hour, after which charges kick in. You can park your truck in high- traffic areas and move it around. Billboards fade into the background after a few weeks so a "mobile billboard" can be very useful.
  • Bus boards: If you're in an area with bus routes, this is an inexpensive way to advertise. Pick routes that cover your market radius, i.e. about 20 minutes drive time. You may want to use bus boards only during your busier months.
  • Bill boards: Outdoor advertising is key in this industry. If you're not on a busy street, a bill board near your site, directing people to you is very valuable. This is an expensive proposition, though.
  • Colleges, Armed Forces Bases, etc: Advertise in their newsletters, put ads on their bulletin boards, run specials during moving periods.
  • Direct Mail: Don't do it. Way too expensive for the return. If I don't need storage, nothing you mail me will help.
  • Cable TV: This is good if you can get a deal that inexpensively covers your market radius.
  • Internet: Today's version of the Yellow Pages. Make sure your site comes up on searches. There are techniques that your web page programmers should be using to take advantage of the way search engines work.

In our next newsletter we'll cover the second category: Are you getting the calls but not converting them to rentals?
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About Payment Search in NX.gen? It allows you to search for any type of payment or allowance within an amount range that you specify and/or a date range for the date it was entered into NX.gen.

If a customer says they sent you a check and you think that it might have been applied to the wrong account, you can use Payment Search to find a specific check number. If you don't know the check number, you can enter a date and amount range and search for all check entries that qualify. When the accounts are displayed, double-click on a name to open that customer ledger. And then, of course, if the check was applied to the wrong account, you can Reverse the payment and automatically apply it to the correct account without affecting your Bank Deposit.

Payment Search can be used to display all accounts that got Fee Allowances during this month---or any time period. The same is true for Rent Allowances. You can search All Allowances for any amount over $10. The options are almost limitless. Give it a try.

Have a Happy Holiday Season and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Ramona Taylor
Space Control Systems, Inc.

phone: 1-800-455-9055

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This email was sent to rtaylor@spacecontrol.com, by rtaylor@spacecontrol.com

Space Control Systems, Inc. | 206 Providence Mine Rd. | Suite 118 | Nevada City | CA | 95959