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COVID-19 Best Practices

Ashley_DAshley_D TXRegistered User, Registered Moderator, Community Manager ✭✭


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 SiteLink 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 access my SiteLink Software without being at the facility?

In an effort to slow the spread of illness, many owners and operators have shifted their workflows to accommodate working from home. It’s critical that you still have access to your SiteLink Software to safely and securely complete daily workflows and keep a pulse on the health of your business. Luckly, your data is stored in the cloud, giving you access to it from anywhere with an internet connection. There are two ways to access your data.


Installing SiteLink Web Edition at Home

First, you’ll want to verify that the computer you’re using to install SiteLink meets the minimum system requirements. You’ll then need to install the application on your computer. Enter the same login credentials you use at your facility and you’ll have access to all of the same data at your facility. Any changes made to settings, tenants records, etc will be updated at both locations, helping you stay aligned with the rest of your team.


myHub

This product is our browser-based complement to SiteLink Software. Instead of installing software on your computer, you can directly access your facility information from a web browser using either a mobile device or computer. Simply log into myHub.SiteLink.com using your existing SiteLink Web Edition credentials and you’ll instantly be able to convert leads to tenants, process payments, and electronically send documents to tenants for signature. Further configuration and usage resources are available on SiteLink’s Storage Forum.


Note: Using SiteLink Standalone? This product only stores information locally on your computer so it can’t be accessed remotely. If you’d like to learn more about transitioning to SiteLink Web Edition enabling you to work remotely, give us a call at 919.865.0789 ext.1 or email us at [email protected].


 
 

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 progression 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 SiteLink Software to ensure your tenant rates are legally compliant.


Cancelling upcoming rate increases

Many operators use SiteLink’s Revenue 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 SiteLink 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 SiteLink Software to provide that safe and seamless move-in experience.


E-Sign

This capability gives your tenants the ability to electronically sign documents during your move-in process. There are also features in SiteLink 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. You can learn more about SiteLink 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. 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.


Event-Based Email

This capability gives you the ability to send an email to specific tenants when events are triggered in your software. For example, 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 personalized version of the same message via email. You can create a template of the instructions and best practices in your software that can easily be sent to leads every time during their 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 Event-Based Email on our help site.


Text/Email Online Move-Ins

In the past, SiteLink hasn’t had an easy way to enable a consumer with a previous reservation to move in online. Now, thanks to a new SiteLink Keyword, 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 SiteLink’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, read this article on our help center.


 

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 SiteLink 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 SiteLink 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 payment authorization forms. You can learn more about SiteLink 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 or updating an existing tenant’s credit card information 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. 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 SiteLink 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 Assocation (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 SiteLink’s Receipt Details 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 Event-Based Email or Text Messaging (SMS) - 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. SiteLink 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 SiteLink Software’s Mass Email capabilities on our help site.


Text Messaging (SMS)

This capability is becoming more and more mandatory for operators every single 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 and more businesses.

SiteLink Software integrates with multiple SMS vendors available through the SiteLink MarketPlace to create a tailored experience that best suits the needs of your business. Once you’ve selected your preferred vendor, you can configure and send SMS messages throughout your daily workflows straight from your software.


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