Newsletter for 4th Quarter 2008
(Winter 2008)
December 2008 - Issue 7
In This Issue
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We've got news about our Online Payment program as well as some good information on collections. We all probably spend more time on collections than any other part of the business and NX.gen can help in lots of ways.

Version 2.6, which uses a SQL database, is ready and currently being installed. This gives us a much faster multi-user version complete with credit card payments at all the workstations. We're working down the list of customers who were waiting for a new multi-user. If you don't have your's yet, send me an email and we'll schedule a date to upgrade your system.

The important thing to remember about collections is that you want to follow up early. Because the larger the amount owed, the harder it is to collect. The customer may even decide that their stored goods aren't worth the amount due! That's why the Delinquent Occupants pie chart is front and center on the Space Control status screen. You want to catch those late-payers before they go to the pink zone.

Telephone Worksheet. This list of pastdue occupants has many options. If you want to call only people who owe rent (as opposed to late fees or miscellaneous charges) select Only Customers Owing Rent. You may not want to spend your time calling someone who only owes a $10 late fee.

You can choose to call only those customers who are 5 or more days pastdue, assuming that a lot of people will pay a day or two after their due date. You can sort by the amount due or the number of days late to get the people who owe the most or are the oldest at the top of the list. Whatever you do, be sure you call everyone on the list. Too many times we call the people at the top of the list every week and those at the bottom never get a call.

Notes. As you make calls be sure to add Notes to the customer account. The ledger lists every charge, payment, late notice, etc. If you add Notes regarding conversations with the customer, you have a complete record of everything that has ever happened with this account.

Reminders. If you call Joe Smith on Monday and he says he's mailing a check that day, add a Reminder for Thursday to call Joe again if you haven't received his check.

Late Fees. Late fees should be used to provide an incentive for prompt payment. If the customer's payment will be $50.00 whether he pays on the 1st or on the 31st there's no real reason for him to pay on the 1st. For the same reason, you might consider two late fees each month instead of one. If the customer knows he has already been charged a late fee on the 10th and there are no more late fees until the next month, there's no incentive to send that check now. If you're concerned about the amount, charge two smaller fees instead of one larger one.

With NX.gen you can charge up to 3 or more late fees a month, daily late fees, late fees as a percentage of rent, and higher late fees for larger spaces. Please note, however, that these approaches may not be legal in your area.

Lockout at the Gate. In NX.gen, Gate Lockout and Overlock can have two different dates. While most areas have strict laws about when you can overlock, many don't address the gate lockout issue. If this is true for you, you could consider locking out at the gate when the occupant is two or three days late. This means the occupant has to come into the office and gives you the opportunity to discuss the pastdue payment.

Auction. Rarely does an auction bring in enough to pay the amount due. If you could rent that space to someone else it is often best to take a partial payment and get the delinquent occupant to move out. So, you may wish to change your last late notice or lien letter to tell the occupant that, "if you're having trouble meeting your obligations as outlined above, please contact us." If they do, you can make a deal, move him out, and start earning income from that space again. We have one Space Control user who sends a letter saying, "if you don't pay within 10 days we are going to overlock your space." Then he hopes the renter will sneak in and take their stored goods so he is rid of them without having to even go to auction.

Online Payments. NX.gen's newest feature gives you the option of telling customers that they can go online and make a credit card payment at any time. This may help to avoid an upcoming late fee or provide an unlock sooner than a mailed check would.
Do you have customers who would like to make payments online? Now you can offer that service. Customers simply go to your web page and click on Payment. We've added a Payment Page to our Online.HQ system that your web page can easily link to. Your customers won't even know that they've left your web page.

A new version of NX.gen lets you store a PIN for any customer who wants to pay online. That info, along with other account information, is sent to the Space Control Online.HQ server on the internet. When the customer logs in using their PIN, we display their account balance, paid-thru date, and next monthly payment. We also display name, address, email address, etc. and ask the customer to edit anything that has changed.

Online payments are processed through the same PPI credit card merchant account that is used with our on-site credit card interface. (That interface not only lets you accept credit card payments throughout the day but can also automatically charge cards each month. And it's now available in Canada as well as the U.S.) The Space Control Payment Page is SSL certified, which means that all data transmission is encrypted and safe for online payments.

Another important benefit is that, if you decide not to accept online payments from a particular customer anymore, you can simply check a NX.gen option that disables online payments. This can prevent an online payment being made the same day that customer's stored goods are being auctioned.

After each online payment the Space Control Online.HQ system will email a receipt to the customer. An email will also be sent to the storage site with all the payment information so the payment can be applied to the customer account in NX.gen. Online Payments will be a separate category on the Bank Deposit to make it easy to balance with the credit card reports.
About all the different email options in NX.gen?

In the End-of-day Reports section of the Maintenance program, you can add multiple email addresses to any of the reports. Just separate the addresses with a semi-colon. Then, the end-of-day process will automatically send the reports when they are created. This is a great way to get all of the accounting reports to your bookkeeper at the end of the month.

If you check Email to Customer in the Letters section of the Maintenance program, late letters and invoices will be emailed as well as printed. Of course you also have to input an email address for the customer.

The Move-in Quote can be very helpful when talking with prospective renters on the phone. It can also be emailed. Then the caller will have something in writing from you immediately. This can help distinguish you from other storage places they may have called.

In NX.gen the Report Archive lets you email any report previously created in end-of-day. You can also email late letters, receipts, and invoices to customers from Archive. So, if somebody calls and says they didn't get a copy or they need another one, just email it. For Word docs, such as receipts, invoices, and letters, when Archive opens the doc in Word, simply select File and Send To As Attachment, then enter the email address. For Crystal reports, select the envelope icon at top left, the format you prefer, then MAPI for Destination.

You can email the customer a copy of their account ledger by selecting the Print icon and then Email. Think twice before checking to include Notes though. You might not want the customer to see Notes you've added to their account.

Have a happy holiday season. We'll be at the Inside Self Storage tradeshow in Las Vegas on January 26 through 28. If you're there, come by and see us.

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