Data Accuracy – Are You Sure Your Self Storage Data Is Accurate?
Move ins, move outs, transfers, merchandise sales, payments, EFTPOS, direct debits, bills, wages and even tax are just some of the many thousands of transactions that Self Storage Management Software operators face every day.
Some are more accurate than others when it comes to entering data. Data accuracy can range from not getting all the details of customers at move in time to not recording the reasons for move out, not getting charges correct or even getting the rate for storage wrong.
Errors like this and many others lead to major inaccuracies in reports and heartburn for owners.
Data accuracy starts with the software you use and your personal attention to detail. We all make mistakes – no one is perfect, but input of basic customer information is critical to the overall administrative process and every site has different rules about data entry.
If a name is not spelt correctly or other details are not captured accurately, when it comes to recovering your storage fees when storers don’t pay, you may face difficulty recovering.
Additionally, Self Storage operators should be capturing much more information about Storers for future marketing requirements. The more that is known about a customer the easier it is to market to them. This is where Self Storage Management Softwares like SiteLink and StorMan can become an essential tools for storage business owners.
Self Storage is no different to any other business when it comes to data accuracy. Some Self Storage Management softwares’ (i.e. StorMan and SiteLink Software) lets transactions in the past be adjusted or even deleted – often with consequences.
This latitude is often promoted as ‘flexibility” when in reality its inaccuracy and attention to detail in the initial handling of the transaction.
When we convert users from other self storage management software packages to SiteLink Software, we often hear statements like “ Oh this new software won’t let me change anything” … this is a sure sign that there is little financial control in place as staff have been allowed to adjust transactions, often with reporting consequences.
Sometimes the implications of what seems a routine change are not understood. A change to the paid to date, a payment type changed or other changes all effect reporting, which may have been used for tax purposes or lodged with authorities.
Self Storage Management Softwares like SiteLink for example has a “Day end” process whereby all transactions are checked and signed off daily, then locked. This process can often infuriate users – not intentionally, as they find a few days later that an entry for a day in the past is incorrect.
There are correct procedures for dealing with errors.
It is not correct procedure to go back and adjust transactions in the past. If you buy an item from a store and go back and query its price and an adjustment is made, you will get a new invoice or a credit. The operator will not be allowed to go back and adjust the transaction a few days back, or even an hour ago.
It is essential to have trust in the operation of your Self Storage Management software package and be fully confident that transactions are dealt with properly. Not all software works the same and it’s important to ensure that software that you use does handle these issues properly. Often security settings that prevent these corrections are turned off.
Self Storage accounting is not too complex: At the end of the financial year, adjustments for accrual based accounts are:
- Debtors are brought to account and added into the accounts
- Prepayments for rent are brought to account and added to accounts
- Bad debts are brought to account
The business tax position can be calculated.
Some or all of these might be done monthly for GST and reporting purposes. When changes are made retrospectively to transactions at site level, these reports will be incorrect if they are printed or relied upon before these adjustments.
A point of confusion for some sites is for those sites that use Cash accounting. The methodology of debtors and prepayments does not apply to the accounts if they are prepared on a cash basis.
So the golden rules for good quality Self Storage Management Software data are:
- Check each entry and plan to make it only once.
- Never change a past transaction.
- Collect all details correctly and don’t short cut.
- Get names exact. No abbreviations.
- Record company details correctly.
- Double check rent amounts.
- Use software that is accurate.
- Ensure the software you use is SOC 1 and PCI –DSS compliant (only a few are)
Good data is so important to Self Storage owners. and management decisions are made from this data and businesses pay tax on the outcome of the data in the reports.
Getting it right for all the stakeholders needs to start at site level – so check twice and enter once and the outcome is data that can be relied upon.
If you decide to sell your Self Storage business in the future, you can guarantee any new buyer will scrutinise your data with a fine tooth comb. If they suspect any inaccuracy they may decide otherwise on their purchase.
Unless they find something to their advantage that you don’t know….!
Every mistake by $1 is $10 off the value of the business. Avoiding and checking mistakes is paramount to increasing the value of the business.