Newsletter for April 2008
(January - April 2008)
April 2008 - Issue 5
In This Issue
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We're hearing a lot about being green these days. So I Googled green office and found more information than I had room to use. There are many web pages that sell green products but we haven't tried them yet so I can't recommend any. Let me know how you're making your office more green.

The other green we're all interested in is money. And, in self storage, sooner or later that means a rent raise. Our second article talks about the many different ways to raise the rent. Just in time for warmer weather and the busy rental season.

green tree
Saving the earth can seem like an overwhelming task. The thing to remember is that even the little things count. It is estimated that 120 tons of steel would be saved if every office-worker in the UK used one less staple a day. That seems hard to believe but it does get it down to something we can handle.

Lopomo?? In a 2002 California study appliances in Low Power Mode were found to be using 10% of the electricity used by residences in that state. Offices probably use more than that but no studies have been done on offices. Lopomo is that not-quite-on and not-quite-off state that many appliances use. Your computer may be in "sleep" mode but it is still using electricity. One solution is to plug everything into a power strip and, after you turn off the individual appliances, turn off the power strip. There are even smart power strips that will automatically shut off power to all peripherals when you shut down the computer.

Paper: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.. Do you really need a hard copy of everything? If you have an Office Procedures manual, consider keeping it online only. Don't distribute printed copies. It's easier to update and saves money, too. Review and edit documents on- screen rather than on paper. (I've got to admit that I have a hard time with this one. It feels more natural to me to have a pencil in my hand, and mark up my document as I go. But, I'm learning to work on-screen.)

If you must print, try printing on both sides of the paper. Most new laser printers have a duplex option that will handle this automatically. This option can make a big difference in something like the Accounts Receivable report. Depending on what you're mailing, it might save on postage too.

When faxing, use a stick-on label on the first page instead of a full-page cover sheet. You can buy them at any office supply store.

Consider using recycled paper. Post-consumer fiber content is what really counts. Look for post-consumer content that is at least 30% or more. Some products have 100% post-consumer content. And try unbleached paper. Chlorine is used to bleach paper bright white. That chlorine makes its way back into the environment and causes health problems. Use recycled paper in the bathroom and kitchen too. Bring your own mug to work instead of using paper cups. And get biodegradable soap. Buy in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced.

The bottom line in many cases is that the greenest thing to do is: Don't do it! Don't print and mail if you can email. Don't drive if you can walk. Don't turn lights on if there's enough natural light. It's always good to use less or recycle but it's better not to use it at all.
Spring is in the air and self-storage thoughts turn to --- rent raises. Space Control has so many rent raise options that I'm always a little surprised to see managers raising rents one by one. It seems like there must be a better way! But I've come to realize that there are almost as many different opinions about rent raises as there are storage companies.

It's important to note that, with Space Control, you can do a group rent raise and then, if there are a few customers for whom you want a different raise (or no raise at all), you can enter an individual rent change for those few customers and it will over-ride the group raise. So you're not stuck with the group raise for everybody.

See if it flies with new customers. Some managers raise the rent on vacant spaces first to see if new customers balk at that price. If they don't, then existing renters are raised to the same rate. This raise can be an across- the-board percentage (you can set the Business Rule in the Maintenance program to round to the nearest dollar), or you can input the new rent amount in each size. Since you're raising the rates on vacant spaces, you can change the Deposit as well. The new rate will go into effect the next day and become your new Standard Rent.

When you feel comfortable with this new move-in rate, you can add a rent raise for occupants that will Raise All To Standard Rent. It can be that simple but there are other options that you may want to consider. First of all, anytime you're changing the rate for a renter, you need to consider how much advance notice needs to be given. Often there's a state law that governs this decision. If you set the Business Rule in NX.gen for the number of days of advance notice that is required, you can be sure that no one can ever mistakenly schedule a rent raise that doesn't comply with your law.

Do you really want to bring everyone up to the Standard Rent? You may because you've proven that you can rent to new customers at this rate. But, if you don't, you can limit the raise. For example, if you've had the new vacant rate in effect for two months, people who moved in during that time are already paying the new rate. But, what about renters who moved in three or four months ago? If you don't want to raise their rates so soon you can Exclude all occupants who moved in after a date of six months ago or whatever you decide to use as your cutoff.

What if some sizes are renting better than others? You can schedule a raise for only certain sizes and only those renters will be raised. If you're scheduling different rent raises at close intervals you may want to use the second option to Exclude all occupants who had a rent raise after : whatever date you choose. This will make sure a renter doesn't get rent raises too close to each other.

Regular Percentage Rent Raises. If you haven't had a regular schedule of rent raises in the past and you have renters in the same size paying many different rates, you may want to do an across- the-board raise by percentage. That way nobody will get shocked by a big jump in price. Another method is to raise rents by a small percentage every six months. Some owners think that occupants are less likely to be upset---and possibly move out---by a small raise twice a year than a bigger raise once a year.

However you choose to do it, the goal is to have all renters paying the going rate, or close to it. That's the reason our Non-standard Rent report shows you everyone who is paying something below today's move-in rate. After all, if you can rent that space to a new occupant for $100, it doesn't make sense to have it occupied by someone paying only $80, even if he has been there for three years.

Pretty soon it's real money. With the above options you should be able to set up a schedule that will prevent that $80 case described above. Because it's surprising how much difference a few missed rent raises can cost. The above renter has already cost the company $360. It's not uncommon to see 10 or 20 of these at a site. $3,600. $7,200.

Automatic Rent Raises. If you decide you'd rather have the computer do all the work, Space Control has an Automatic Rent Raise option. You can set it up to raise each occupant's rent 12 months after move-in and NX.gen will take care of sending the letter at the right time and raising the rent automatically. You don't have to worry about occupants going too long at the same rate, getting raises too soon, or getting missed altogether. And, since you'll only be raising 1/12th of your renters at any given time, you won't have mass move-outs either.

The goal is 100% occupancy. Or is it? You'd think it would be a good thing to be 100% occupied. All your hard work has paid off and every space is rented. But that means every time the telephone rings or a potential renter walks in the door you have to tell them that you don't have any spaces to rent. And that hurts. So it's time to do a rent raise. If somebody moves out because he doesn't like the new rate, then you've got a space to rent to that guy on the Waiting List.
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About Change Payment Type in NX.gen? If you mistakenly enter a customer's payment as Cash, then realize that it should have been Check, you can use this function to easily change your entry without having to reverse the payment. This is one of the many new features in NX.gen that came from a user suggestion.

After a payment is entered, the system returns to the customer ledger to show you how that payment changed the account. If you realize your mistake then, or when you print the Bank Deposit later that day, simply go to the Transaction Menu on the customer ledger screen and select Change Payment Type. The system will highlight a transaction and ask if this is the one to change. When you click Yes, you get to choose the new Payment Type. The system will than make the change to the payment transaction.

Please note that you can only change payment types on the same day the payment was entered. And a Note will be automatically added to the account about the change. We all make mistakes. But it's nice to have a quick and easy way to correct them.

We're testing a new version of NX.gen that uses a SQL database. It's faster than our current version (which uses an Access database) and we'll use it for multi-user systems and web page interfaces. We'll have more to report in our next newsletter.

Ramona Taylor
Space Control Systems, Inc.

phone: 1-800-455-9055

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