Newsletter for July 2008
(Summer 2008)
July 2008 - Issue 6
In This Issue
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We've got a new 2.6 version in the works. It's being Beta tested at the first sites now. This one has a SQL database and it's faster, especially for multi-user systems.

There's also a new report in 2.6. It's officially called Rent Income Analysis but unofficially it's What should have been collected this month; What did we collect; and Where is the rest of it? We'll let you know when Version 2.6 is ready for general release.

If you're spending money and effort on advertising but not getting as many new customers as you think you should, there are two areas of your business to analyze. One is advertising and marketing (we discussed that in our December, 2007, newsletter). If that part of the business is doing well, you're getting the calls, but not converting them. We've got to assume these prospects ended up renting somewhere. So then the question becomes: why didn't they choose your site?

Most prospective renters search the Yellow Pages then call your facility. Check into how the telephone is answered. Is your manager professional and friendly? Do you have a good script for employees to follow? Is it, in fact, being followed? A good script tells the prospect why your facility is best for him/her. It might be that you're the newest in town, that you have good security features, better access hours, are easier to find, have lower prices, more sizes, drive-up units vs. an elevator, near the town center or some other desirable location, are impeccably maintained, etc.

Do you have easy to follow directions to your site? Make up a good-looking piece that includes your site's best features, something that can be FAXed or emailed. Then make sure it's close to the phone so your manager can read it to prospects that aren't near FAX or email. Put some thought into this piece---bad directions turn people off. Really bad directions take people past too many competing sites.

Once you get them to your facility, what kind of physical impression does your business make? Is it clean and neat? Do your employees dress neatly or, better yet, wear a uniform? Uniforms don't have to be expensive. Khaki pants and a polo shirt with your logo on it can do the job. And a little landscaping can greatly improve the curb appeal of a storage facility that is made up of lots of hard surfaces.

Pricing is, of course, extremely important. But, we're not saying you should necessarily have the lowest prices in your area. Studies have shown that many people base their decision to rent on factors other than price. You should, however, be well aware of your competitors' prices, just so you know where you stand.

Discounts. If your competition is offering deals, you may decide to as well. But, give some consideration to the consequences of your "special." For example, giving the first month free or for $1.00 can lead to more problems than it solves. People may dump their trash in your storage unit and then disappear. If you decide to give away rent, make it the 2nd or 3rd month. Be sure to mention any other discounts you may offer. Prepay discounts appeal to some customers while giving you the advantage of getting your money up front. Half off the 7th month when you pay six months in advance is typical. So is the 13th month free with a 12-month prepay.

It all depends on how you say it. If you prorate on move-in and move-out, offer prospects a "daily rate." If the caller is interested in a size that rents for $60/month, tell them, "The rent on that size is only $2.00 a day. At Aardvark, you never pay for any days you don't use." To the renter, $2.00/day sounds like less of a commitment than $60/mo. And you want to point out any advantage that you offer. If you only charge for days used, you should say so.

There's competition and then there's competition. If you're in a really competitive area you may decide that you do need to offer low move-in rates. But you don't want those low rates to go on any longer than they have to. So offer low move- in rates but set your system up to raise those rates in 60 or 90 days. That way you can attract new renters but improve your average rent by the time they move- out. Even though most renters don't think they'll need storage for very long, the average stay is 8 months. So you might have a lower rate for 3 months and a higher rate for 5 months. Better than leaving that space empty.

If you're concerned about remembering to raise rents 90 days after move-in, Space Control's NX.gen has an Automatic Rent Raise option that can handle this for you. You set up the parameters: 3 months after move- in raise rents by 5%, then every year thereafter, raise rents by 6% (or whatever you choose). Space Control will automatically print the notices and raise the rents when due.

Go after the sale you've already got. Your business customers have already decided that your self storage is the best one for them. So, make up a notice to tell them how they can save even more money. Storage space is always cheaper than office space. So if your business customers are storing files, extra inventory, tradeshow displays, or anything that they don't have to access on a daily basis in their office space, they could save money by putting it in storage. See the next article to use NX.gen's Group Letters to do this mailing.
Do you need to send a special notice to all your customers? Maybe you would like to change the terms of your rental agreement but that requires notifying all the current renters. Or, would it be a good idea to offer a discount to renters who refer someone to your facility? NX.gen's Group Letters lets you do that. And you can probably think of many other uses as well.

You can send a letter to all your customers, or just business or residential customers. You might want to poll those who moved out during the past six months to learn why they left or whether they would rent with you again. Some managers have decided to send a thank you to long-time renters. You might need to let everyone know in advance that you will be closed to pave the driveways. You can select customers from a range of move-in dates or move-out dates, or choose a particular size or zip code for your mailing.

To create a letter to send to a group of customers, first go to the Maintenance program and Add a Special Letter. We provide a template to get you started that will already have letter tags for the customer's name and address. You can add or delete letter tags depending on your needs. Type in the text for the body of the letter and you're ready to go to NX.gen\Utilities\Group Letters, make your selections, and print the letters.

If you have a preprinted piece that you want to send, you can print labels instead of letters. The labels option will create a Word mail merge file that can be used to print the labels from your Word program. We have detailed instructions we can send you to help with that.
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About Reverse and Reapply to another account in NX.gen? Usually, when a payment has to be reversed, it's because it was applied to the wrong account. (If you just need to change Cash to Check or whatever see our last newsletter about Change Payment Type.) If you discover this mistake on the same day, there's no problem. You reverse it from the wrong account. NX.gen will add the reverse transaction, adjust the balance and paid thru date and that payment will not appear on the Bank Deposit. Then the payment is entered on the correct account. This payment will be on the Bank Deposit and all is well.

But, if you don't discover the mistake for several days, you don't want the new payment to go on the Bank Deposit. So, when the payment is reversed from the wrong account, you tell NX.gen to reapply it to another account. Select the customer that the payment should have gone to and the system will add a Payment Transfer transaction to that account and update the balance and paid-thru date.

The customer accounts are correct, the Bank Deposit is correct, and it was so easy. We all make mistakes but NX.gen makes it easy to set them right.

It seems like we're barely into summer but they're starting Back to School ads already so it'll be Fall Tradeshow Time before you know it. We'll be at the Las Vegas SSA show September 4-6. And, for those of you who know Steve Quinn, he's coming back from Australia to join us. Stop by and see us if you're there.

Ramona Taylor
Space Control Systems, Inc.

phone: 1-800-455-9055

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