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To help you navigate these uncertain times, we've published COVID-19 software best practices and COVID-19 website best practices to help solve the unique problems presented in these uncertain times.

COVID-19 Best Practices - Software

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With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) recently declared a global pandemic, we’re experiencing a monumental shift in our day-to-day lives. First and foremost, we’re thinking of you and your families, and we hope you’re staying healthy and safe. We know you’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty in your business, which makes this experience even more difficult.

We also know this will pass, and our nation and economy will recover. In the meantime, we’re here to help you navigate this situation by providing practical ways to create a safe, seamless customer experience and sustain your business.

We’ve created this page as a resource for operators using storEDGE Software to learn how they can utilize its capabilities to solve unique problems presented by COVID-19. As the impacts of the illness develop, we’ll continue to update this page with guidance. 

Is your question not represented here? We’d love to hear from you using this form.

Table of Contents

 


 

How can I be sure my tenant rates are legally compliant?

Many states across the country have already declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Given the state of the virus across the country, we have reason to believe that more states will begin to follow suit.

In addition to the hardship this may be placing on you personally, we’re aware how it may also affect your business. Legislation may be in place in your state that controls how much of a rate increase is legally permitted during a declared state of emergency. To protect your business and do right by your tenants, you may need to decide whether or not you want to cancel or make adjustments to your scheduled rate changes.

The Self Storage Association (SSA) has thoughtfully provided a list of the price gouging laws for all 50 states in the US. We highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with your state’s legislation regarding price gouging. See the list below for how you can use capabilities available in storEDGE Software to ensure your tenant rates are legally compliant.

Cancelling upcoming rate increases

Many operators use storEDGE’s Yield Management capability to automatically raise or lower their rates based on triggers set in the software. Depending on your local or state legislation, you may need to consider cancelling or disabling your rate increases. To do so, we recommend you check out our guide on how to disable rate increases/cancel rate changes in storEDGE Software.



How can I complete low-contact move-ins?

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spreading of illness is to practice social distancing. In case you’re not familiar, social distancing is the act of deliberately increasing the physical space between people. In particular, the CDC recommends we increase that physical space to 6 feet to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Self storage isn’t a high volume business in terms of foot traffic, however, you should still focus on enforcing social distancing to keep both your employees and tenants safe. Some operators have even been able to create an entirely low-contact move-in experience. See the list below for how you can use capabilities available in storEDGE Software to provide that safe and seamless move-in experience.

E-Sign

This capability gives your tenants the ability to electronically sign documents that require a signature during your move-in process. There are also features in storEDGE that help you monitor your e-sign documents as necessary.

To use this capability to supplement a low-contact move-in experience, we recommend introducing it to leads over a phone call. Explaining that you’re taking steps to practice social distancing will help establish trust with the lead and give them the confidence they need to move forward with your facility. Explain the documents you’ll be sending them and how to capture their signature. Your leads can use their desktops or mobile devices to facilitate these signatures. From there, you can provide them with the tools and information necessary to physically move-in. Lastly, it’s critical that you enable E-Sign if you choose to allow online move-ins to ensure you have a signed lease for every single tenant. You can learn more about storEDGE Software’s E-Sign capabilities here and how to implement e-sign on our help site.

Autopay

This capability empowers you to save Debit/Credit and ACH/eCheck payments information for future use. These payment methods are eligible for automatic billing. This can be done both during and after the move-in process.

Not only does processing payments during an online move-in experience prevent the need for a lead to physically visit your office, but it also ensures they won’t need to do so for future recurring payments. You can learn more about configuring Autopay during the move-in experience on our help site.

Two-Way Texting

This capability enables you to communicate with customers and for customers to communicate with you via SMS (text) message. This is a preferred method of communication for a lot of leads and is a low-friction way to answer their simpler questions without jumping on a phone call.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, you may have given your leads an in-person tour of your facility to set them up for a successful move-in. One use of this capability could be to replace that tour with a text-based version of the same message. You can even create a template of the instructions and best practices in your software that can easily be sent every time to a lead during the move-in experience. This saves you valuable time while providing a safe and seamless experience for both your employees and leads. You can learn more about configuring two-way texting on our help site. 

Text/Email Online Move-Ins

In the past, storEDGE hasn’t had an easy way to enable a consumer with a previous reservation to move in online. Now, by clicking a button in the Leads and Reservations screen, managers will be able to trigger an outbound communication (email or text) that provides prospective tenants with a URL that directs to an online move-in experience, allowing them to complete the entire move-in process from any device, anywhere. This new capability enhances the flexibility of storEDGE’s online move-in offering, which enables managers to provide a new level of convenience and safety to their customers. To learn more about this new online move-in functionality, check out our guide to online move-ins on our help center.

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How can I provide a low-contact tenant experience? 

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spreading of illness is to practice social distancing. In case you’re not familiar, social distancing is the act of deliberately increasing the physical space between people. In particular, the CDC recommends we increase that physical space to 6 feet to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Self storage isn’t a high volume business in terms of foot traffic, however, you should still focus on enforcing social distancing to keep both your employees and tenants safe. Some operators have even been able to create an entirely low-contact tenant experience. See the list below for how you can use capabilities available in storEDGE Software to provide that safe and seamless tenant experience.

E-Sign

This capability gives your tenants the ability to electronically sign documents that require a signature. There are also features in storEDGE that help you monitor your e-sign documents as necessary.

To use this capability to supplement a low-contact tenant experience, we recommend introducing it to your leads over a phone call. Explaining that you’re taking steps to practice social distancing will help establish trust with the lead and give them confidence that they’re storing with the right facility. Explain the documents you’ll be sending them and how to capture their signature. Your leads can use their desktops or mobile devices to facilitate these signatures. Some examples of documents you can send are addendums, insurance enrollment, or truck rental agreements.You can learn more about storEDGE Software’s E-Sign capabilities here and how to implement e-sign on our help site.

Autopay

This capability empowers you to save Debit/Credit and ACH/eCheck payments information for future use. These payment methods are eligible for automatic billing. This can be done both during and after the move-in process.

Enabling Autopay for your existing tenants ensures that they won’t need to come into your office for future payments - not to mention it’s a very convenient time saver for them. This is a great way to provide a seamless and safe experience for both your managers and tenants.You can learn more about configuring Autopay during the move-in experience on our help site.

Mass Email

This capability gives you the ability to send an email to all of your tenants or a group of tenants with just a few clicks. This functionality allows you to update your tenants about important news without the costly process of sending documents through postal mail.

During these uncertain times, it’s incredibly important to ensure that your tenants are aware of all the changes you’re making to your tenant experience to ensure their safety. As you implement new processes and technology, we recommend supplementing the change with an email to all of your tenants affected. If they respond to your email with any questions, you’ll be able to track and respond to the email in all of the places you’ve already come to expect. You can learn more about storEDGE Software’s Mass Email capabilities on our help site.


How can I stay up-to-date on legislative policies and mandates?

With the industry changing as fast as it is, it’s critical that you ensure you’re accounting for all relevant legislative updates. Both the national Self Storage Association (SSA) and state associations are great resources for these types of updates. We recommend that you check back with them on a recurring basis, as the landscape is changing rapidly. If you can’t find an answer to your question through those organizations, you should consult your legal counsel. 

 


How can I continue to collect payments from my tenants?

These are financially tough times for everybody - operators and tenants alike. The unemployment rate was recently predicted to be around 13% and climbing. For folks that are fortunate enough to still be employed, the timeline for shelter-in-place mandates and returning to the office is uncertain. In the interim, we need to all exhibit patience and be good partners to one another. Below, we’ve included some recommendations on how you might encourage and help folks keep paying during these uncertain times.

Accept All Payment Types

This one is simple - offer as many solutions as possible to collect payments. The preferred solution for both operators and tenants should be setting up either credit card or ACH payments via AutoPay. This encourages social distancing and creates less work and headaches for both parties. We recommend using storEDGE’s AutoPay Roll report to audit which of your customers are currently not using AutoPay. From there, you can reach out to those folks to encourage them to start using this feature.

With that being said, accepting physical payments such as checks or cash when AutoPay isn’t an option is highly encouraged. We’ve seen many operators who have set up dropboxes at their offices for these types of payments so that tenants and on-site management don’t need to make physical contact.

Stay Top of Mind

Your tenants likely have a lot on their minds right now. In combination with accepting all payment types, it’s important to regularly remind your tenants when their rent is due or late. We recommend using the tenant’s communication channel of preference - either Two-Way Email or Two-Way Texting - to regularly deliver these messages.

Be Flexible

Some portion of your tenants are likely to miss payments resulting from the financial fallout of COVID-19. This is a great opportunity to help your community by being flexible during these times and working with those folks to come up with a solution that benefits both parties. For example, we’ve seen some operators either delaying payments or negotiating discounted rates for a temporary period of time. Helping these folks during their time of need can help create customers and referrals for life as a result.

 


How can I stay in communication with my customers and leads?

With many businesses temporarily, and in some cases permanently, shutting their doors, people are unsure of which businesses are able to help them during this crisis. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security identified the self-storage industry as “critical infrastructure” and recommended that storage facilities be allowed to remain open amidst the lockdown orders that are being issued in various states. This designation as critical infrastructure unfortunately does not guarantee that all self-storage operations will remain open across the country, and now more than ever, it is important that you keep consumers informed of your business status and any changing policies or process. storEDGE Software can help you do this in a number of different ways. 

Mass Email

This capability gives you the ability to send an email to all of your tenants or a group of tenants with just a few clicks. During these uncertain times, it’s incredibly important to ensure that your tenants are aware of all the changes you’re making to your tenant experience to ensure their safety. As you implement new processes and technology, we recommend supplementing the change with an email to all of your tenants affected. You can learn more about storEDGE Software’s Mass Email capabilities on our help site.

Text Messaging (SMS)

This capability is becoming more and more mandatory for operators every day. In fact, 78% of customers wish they could have a text conversation with a business. We only expect this number to increase as consumers get used to contactless operations with more businesses. This is a great way to keep your tenants engaged on their preferred communication channel while also creating a safe and seamless tenant experience. You can learn more about configuring Two-Way Texting on our help site.

 


 

How can I better manage my business remotely?

In an effort to slow the spread of illness, many owners and operators have shifted their workflows to accommodate working from home. While this is incredibly important in maintaining a safe, seamless experience for both your employees and tenants, it introduces a new set of challenges. Fortunately, storEDGE Software comes with numerous capabilities to help you solve these unique challenges.

Browser-Based Software

While practicing social distancing, it’s absolutely critical that you still have access to your management software to safely and securely complete daily workflows and keep a pulse on the health of your business. storEDGE Software is entirely browser-based, meaning all of your facility information is stored securely and always available, eliminating the need to download, install, and maintain software. You can access information about your facility from any device anywhere in the world. Learn more about what it means to be browser-based on our help site.

Utilize Automation

Many of the daily tasks you used to manually accomplish at your facility can actually be automated. By doing so, you can ensure these tasks don’t fall through the cracks and also free up your managers to focus on better supporting your customers through a contactless tenant experience. Some of the notable capabilities that you can automate in storEDE Software include Two-Way Texting, Mass Email, Expiring Insurance Notifications, Revenue Management, Mail House, and Delinquency Stages.

Update Your Call Forwarding Number

If you’re utilizing a tracked phone number from storEDGE, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve updated the call forwarding number to one you can manage remotely. We’ve seen some folks buy temporary cell phones for their managers and point the call forwarding number to these devices. This is a great way to l ensure someone is still available to quickly support your tenants through a contactless tenant experience. To configure this setting, you’ll need to reach out to storEDGE support at either (913) 954‑4745; or support@storedge.com


How can I better manage my employees remotely?

With many operators sending their managers home to work remotely for the time being, it’s more important than ever to keep a finger on their activity and performance. This is particularly important in ensuring they’re continuing to provide an excellent tenant experience during these uncertain times. storEDGE Software comes with numerous capabilities to help you solve these unique challenges.

Utilize Performance Reporting

There are a variety of reports available in storEDGE to keep you plugged into the health of your business. For this specific challenge, we recommend consulting the User Performance report. This report tracks a variety of actions taken by your manager including move-ins, merchandise sales, payments, credits, and waives. Having these data points at your fingertips empowers you to dig into where your managers can focus on providing an excellent tenant experience. You can learn about the various reports in storEDGE Software on our help site.

Tracking Daily Behavior

In addition to reporting, there are a couple of areas within storEDGE Software that you should be reviewing on a regular basis to ensure no tasks fall through the cracks.

 


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