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Self Store Managers - Beware of Hidden Costs When Purchasing Self Storage Software

After finding the perfect software solution for your self storage business, you may unfortunately discover that there are extra modules and services needed to run the software. For example:

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Updates:
Many software companies charge additional for updates to the self storage software that are released in the future. These updates can include new features as well as “bug fixes”.  Charging self store managers for these updates is standard practice but you can find companies that provide these updates for free. Some companies force the user to purchase updates even if their software is running fine. They force the issue by refusing to do technical support for the user unless they have purchased the latest version. A more reasonable approach is to provide the technical support, and if it is discovered that the problem that the user is experiencing has been fixed in a later version, to notify the user. The user can make their own decision whether they want to find a work- around for the problem or to go ahead with the purchase of the newest version which includes the corrected self store software.

Additional Feature Modules:
Many software companies have a standard price, but additional, and often necessary, features cost extra and can really increase the price. Look for software which includes all of the features you need, or make sure to add up the additional costs when you are making price comparisons.

Technical Support:
Technical support represents a very important ongoing relationship between the self store manager and the software vendor. Most companies offer a user manual included with the software but this is often not enough when you are confused about how to use the software or are experiencing an error in the software. It is important that the vendor has free or low cost options for technical support for those with a quick question or error to report. For example there may be a free user forum or free email technical support. All software has occasional errors. A vendor that allows you to report errors without penalizing you by charging for reporting the error is a must.

It is important that the software vendor offer some type of telephone support for self store managers who don’t want to search the manual. For those who need to get back to business quickly and want to be able to pick up the phone for quick answers, a telephone support plan is useful.  Telephone support is almost always a paid option. However, the cost of this telephone support can reflect on the software program. Software vendors must maintain some sort of recurring revenue from their customers in order to stay in business, and to pay their trained technical support representatives.

However, if the telephone support is overly expensive, it may suggest that the software is full of errors and requires the self store manager to spend a lot of time working with technical support.

Software Supplies:
Often a software company will add features into the software which require you to purchase more products from them. For example, a software program that offers a check printing feature may require that you use their printing company to purchase check forms that are compatible with the software’s banking feature. Other companies will also offer an alternative and less expensive option, such as the option to use checks compatible with QuickBooks or other software for which it is easy and inexpensive to purchase check stock.

Value Added Services:
Many software programs offer value added services for self store managers, embedded into their self storage software. For example, there may be a credit card processing service that will process payments for you - without the hassle of opening another program.  Often the software company itself receives a portion of the user’s cost for each use of the feature.  Self store managers need to decide if the feature can be purchased less expensively elsewhere or if the added cost is worth the increased convenience.

Author: Jill Shaffer, Psy. D. is the president and co-owner of Property Sidekick, Inc, and the creator of Storage Sidekick - Self Store Software specifically designed for self store managers to get organized quickly using a complete software solution. Dr. Shaffer has been instrumental in software innovation for the property management industry since 1994.

   
 
 
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