According to the Self Storage Association International, as of January 30 2015, Australia has more than 1,500 self storage facilities throughout the country, comprising everything from safe deposit boxes to vehicle storage. IBISWorld tells us that the growth in industry profitability over the last five years can be chalked up to both reduced costs and an attempt by businesses to boost service offerings.
One thing that’s also no doubt assisted businesses has been the use of technology within the industry. This not only counts the emergence of self storage software – like StorMan, which has dramatically simplified the work of managing a self storage facility, but the implementation of direct debits within software.
Changes brought about by self storage software
The emergence of self storage software has been a huge boost for the industry. In years past, running a self storage facility meant keeping a physical tab on your units, maintaining and checking painstaking physical records, and corresponding with potential and existing customers. All of this left the field wide open to human error and lost productivity – but self storage management programs have changed all that.
Suddenly, you could view facts like unit occupancy history quickly and easily move rates up and down with little hassle and produce reports – all at the click of a button and the move of a mouse.
The savviest self storage operators haven’t simply made use of this software, however. They’ve also learnt to integrate ecommerce payment solutions into their operations alongside it, to maximise their cost savings and efficiency gains.
Saving time, effort and money
One of the most time-consuming and cost-extracting tasks of any business – let alone a self storage facility – is drawing up invoices, sending them to customers and chasing up their late payment. Countless hours that could be better put to a myriad of other purposes are lost every year through what is long and antiquated system. As far back as 2002, a Fidesic Corporation report warned that 90 per cent of the cost of invoicing came out of labour, and that electronic invoicing and payment would cut this labour by nearly 50 per cent.
This is a good example where self storage management software and direct debit integration complement each other. The self storage software will automatically create and send invoices out electronically, saving you the labour involved in compiling them yourself. Meanwhile direct debit software will ensure customers pay on time, and that they are charged the correct amount – a value that can be altered automatically through the management system on your computer.
There are benefits for the customer, too. They can avoid the time-consuming, error-filled process of manually filling out their credit card numbers each time, and needn’t worry about being overcharged. Moreover, because the payments are ‘pulled’ – not ‘pushed’ – from the customer’s account, they can forget about late fees and always be sure they have access to their stored goods.
Cashflow is key for self storage operators
The speed and efficiency of automated direct debit payments has another key benefit: It’s great for cash flow management. Businesses using direct debit have long been intimately aware of the way it eliminates debtor days and guarantees you can count on having the right revenue on hand. While this is important for any business, it’s particularly so for companies in the self storage sector. The business model of a typical operator involves numerous initial and ongoing costs that other industries don’t need to face.
According to the Self Storage Association of Australia, the average occupancy in Australia and New Zealand is less than 80 per cent, and it can take 3-4 years to rent up a storage centre with 4-500 units.
Meanwhile there is the burden of numerous operating expenses – including wages, insurance, management fees, repairs and electricity – combined with the volatility of storage prices. If prices drop, due to oversupply of storage space for example, this can leave an operator exposed. Having a secure, dependable cash flow is crucial in these circumstances – and recurring revenue software is what can provide it.
A secure and trusted system
Of course, any operator will want to make sure the software they use keeps data secure. In Australia, merchants need to meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), a framework for best practice around storing, processing and transmitting customer data.
Originally created in 2004 by several credit card giants, the PCI-DSS mandates actions such as installing quality anti-malware, -spyware and -virus software and restricted access to system operations. Falling short of these requirements can leave a company facing negative press, at best – or at worst, financial penalties and an investigation. On the flipside, compliance is a way to build up your company’s reputation and attract further customers.
A quality direct debit software provider, such as Ezidebit, will provide you with systems that are PCI-DSS compliant. That way, you can feel free to take advantage of all the benefits of modern, digital technology while avoiding its pitfalls. Ezidebit, coupled with powerful self storage management software such as StorMan, makes payment processing a breeze. Download a Storman trial today.