Why You Need to Own Your Self Storage Data
There are software companies operating in the self storage industry today holding their customers’ data hostage.
What does it mean to hold data hostage? Let’s say that you own a self storage property and you work with a property management system (PMS) provider that hasn’t met your expectations. You’ve worked with them for two years. Now it’s time to move. Before you do, you want a copy of all the data you’ve generated over the two years working together.
They say no. They might say yes, but it’s going to cost you X amount of dollars.
Your data is being held hostage.
You didn’t know that this would happen. Your provider might have said you owned your data when you first started working together so you figured you didn’t have to worry about this situation.
The Flow of Data
Every process at your property generates data points. Every rental, transfer, and payment made creates information that software, such as a PMS, collects and manages. And, the PMS needs to collect and manage this data to provide you with the services you require when running your business.
The concern isn’t software companies collecting and managing your data. The concern lies in how those software companies handle your data once they have it.
Your data has immense value, and you can use the data that your properties naturally generate to gain actionable insights into your company.
Data tied to your promotions can help you learn which of your promotions are working and which aren’t. Market data can help you learn what markets are underperforming and require additional marketing dollars. Or learn which properties and cities are doing so well that you can devote fewer marketing dollars.
These are just a few examples, there’s so much more your data can do for you.
You should at any point and for whatever reason be able to ask your PMS provider for access and control of your data. You should also be able to ask and receive a straightforward answer about how they’re using your data. You should also have control of how much of your data your vendor partners can access.
“It doesn’t make sense to allow somebody insights into your information that they really don’t have any business accessing. An access control company, for example, doesn’t need to see every rate, every rent increase, length of stay, lifetime value of your customers, or your occupancy to accomplish their job. But, you could easily be sharing all this information with them if you’re not aware of your data and how you’re sharing it,” said Lance Watkins, CEO of Tenant Inc.
Is your provider keeping your data secure, or are they reselling it? You want to know if they’re reselling, as there are many disadvantages that come when companies sell your data.
Imagine a large operator reaches out to a large PMS provider that sells customer data. That PMS provider works with thousands of self storage operators, both large and small.
The large operator tells the PMS provider that it wants to purchase rental and market data from smaller operators in markets it wants to expand into. The operator receives this data and gains insights that the smaller operators would never want to share.
With the purchased data in hand, the larger operator concludes it wants to buy one of the smaller operators out. The large operator can offer an unfair market valuation for the smaller operator because of the data it bought. Again, this was information that the smaller operator did not know was being sold and would not have shared if they were the ones in control of their data.
The larger operator can also decide it doesn’t want to purchase that location, instead, it wants to build its own location in the smaller operator’s market because the data they bought shows that there’s enough upside in the market to enter.
“If data is being accessed for competitive purposes, it is a powerful tool to decide whether to come in and create competition within a particular marketplace,” said Watkins.
How Tenant Inc. is Different
At Tenant Inc., we mean it when we say you own your data when you partner with us.
You own your data. Those four words hold a lot of value for us and mean that you’re allowed to access your data, download your data, and backup your data at no cost, whenever you want.
If you want to share all your data with another vendor or company, we’ll do that. If you want to restrict certain parts of your data, we’ll do that too. If you don’t want to share any part of your data with anyone, we’ll secure your data up.
We also ensure that the partners we work with respect your data as well, as all partners that access your data enter an agreement that they won’t resell it.
We believe it is critical for you to own your data. It’s one of your business’s most valuable assets, and owning your data gives you the freedom of doing business with whoever you want.
“If it takes an immense amount of effort, cost, and time to leverage your data because it’s trapped in archaic systems or not available, then there’s a problem. If you have access to your data, it should be quickly accessible so you can make quick business decisions. There’s an immense amount of value in that type of ownership, right?” said Watkins.
How To Test if You Own Your Data with Your Current Provider
If you’re curious about your own situation and want to see whether your own your data with your current provider, we have two simple tests that you can try out.
Test 1: Go to your PMS provider and say you found a new company to handle your merchant processing. The conversation you should have about a switch to a new vendor should be fairly simple. Merchant processing, specifically, requires access to few data points, such as tenant balance, personal information, and payment method. The conversation with your provider should be civil, and end with a quick “yes.” If your provider says no, then there might be a reason for concern. Follow up with more questions why you cannot.
Test 2: Ask your provider for a downloadable copy of your data. Your provider should be able to do this at no extra cost to you. Many companies will charge you for this service, but they should not charge you for it if you truly own your data. Some companies will flat-out deny you this service, leaving you to figure out how to collect your data on your own.
Still have some questions about data ownership? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org