Published on 8/29/2017

Understanding Storage Vocabulary

By Shaila Bringhurst

So, what you're saying is...

Don't you love conversations where no matter what you say, the other person does NOT understand you? You're speaking plain English, but nothing is getting through, and the person keeps saying things like, "Yes, I understand," and you are mentally screaming, "No, you don't!" 

Maddening, right?

As you know, there is a lot of jargon (words specific to a certain field) associated with the self storage industry, words like "payment gateway," "Google ranking," "proration," "gate integration," and more. The best way to avoid maddening conversations is to master the "language" of your industry. We'll begin with some basic, but often misunderstood, management jargon. As always, feel free to contact our support team if there are words not on this list which you would like defined:

Definitions for Facility Managers

  • Integration: There are many different types of integration—integration with your gate program, integration with Quickbooks, integration with your payment gateway (we will explain this in a section below). The word integrate means putting together several parts to make a whole. So, if you are "integrating" a gate program, you are connecting the gate program with something else, like your storage software.  The same applies to Quickbooks. When you integrate with Quickbooks, you connect it to the software holding your customer information. Integration saves you work because the integrated programs can communicate and share data without you having to manually enter it for each program.

    Integration is like a series of extension cords powering a machine. One cord could be your gate or Quickbooks program. Another cord could be your storage software. A third cord might be your computer or even your internet connection.  If there is something wrong with one extension cord, the machine won't work correctly, so it's essential to identify which cord is the actual problem in order to solve the issue.  

  • Payment Gateway:  Simply put, a payment gateway integrates with the customer, with you, and with the customer's bank when processing an online payment. The following diagram demonstrates this:  

  • Merchant Account vs Payment Gateway: Technically, there is another step between the gateway and the bank called the "Merchant Account."  The merchant account is in charge of communicating with the bank and sending the money to you, the owner.  Many payment gateway companies have a merchant account branch to their business.  Storage Rent Payment, for example, has a merchant account branch called "Yapstone."  Yapstone is part of the same company but has different roles.  Transaction Express, as another example, is the name of the gateway, and Transfirst is their company's merchant account. 

  • Google Ranking: In a nation where 92% of people own cell phones, SEO, marketing, and Google ranking are very important! Google ranking is defined by where your website appears on a Google search.  If Jack wants to find a storage facility and searches "Storage in Jackville," which facilities will show up first?  Those on the first page of his search are either ranked "high" by Google, or they have paid to be there. In order for websites to have a high Google ranking, they must fulfill Google's "good website" standards over the period of several months. Marketing professionals help keep your website in good standing with Google and other search engines so people can find you more easily.

  • Domain vs Subdomain: First, when someone says domain or subdomain, he/she is referring to a URL, or an http://blahblahblah.blah.  The domain is like the envelope enclosing a letter; it has all the information necessary to get the letter where it needs to go.  The subdomain is like the content of the envelope, the letter containing all the important information.  The subdomain is what you see when you access your software and was delivered to you via the domain.

  • Web-based: A software that is 100% web-based can be accessed anywhere you have internet.  You do not have to be on a specific computer or device to access your software. If a program requires you to download anything in order for it to function, it is not 100% web-based. 

  • Invoice Post Date vs Bill Date: Have you ever heard someone say the invoice has been posted but not billed yet?  When an invoice posts, that means the customer has been notified of an upcoming bill, but the bill hasn't actually come due yet.  The customer can, if he/she chooses, both see and pay the bill online as soon as it has been posted (if the customer pays before the invoice has been posted, the customer has prepaid).  If you have customers set up on recurring billing, the charge will not happen when the invoice posts (since it typically posts a week before the bill date) but rather when the bill is due.  Late charges and other fees will only begin after the bill date, not when the invoice initially posts. 

Definitions for Storage Tenants

  • Proration: A prorated invoice or a prorated amount is less than what you would normally pay for rent.  Let's say Jill moves into a unit on the 15th of the month. The owners don't think it's fair to charge her a full month's rent, so they are only going to charge her, say, half the usual amount.  The amount Jill will be paying for her first month (or half of a month, anyway) is called the "prorated amount."  Owners may say, "We will prorate your first month and then charge you normal starting your second month."  You should celebrate! This means you are going to be paying less your first month than you will the rest of the time.

  • Autopay/Recurring billing:  If you have given your credit card or bank account information to the facility owner and given permission for your card/account to be charged every month for your rent, you are set up on recurring billing (also called Autopay).  You do not have to re-enter your credit card number or send a check every month for your rent to be paid.  Instead, your credit card will be charged automatically the day your bill is due. You may receive an invoice before your bill date, but your card is NOT charged on this date. Most invoices are sent out a week prior to your bill date when your card is charged.  IMPORTANT: The recurring payment won't automatically charge you for late fees, so be sure to contact your facility manager if you owe something besides rent! He/she should be able to charge your card with your permission to pay the additional amounts. 

  • Credit/Balance/Outstanding: So many financial terms! For our purposes, this is what you need to remember.  "Outstanding" is what you, as a customer, owe.  "Credit" is extra money you have in your account.  "Balance" is a combination of the both—it will show if you owe money (a positive number) or if you have extra money (a negative number) or the difference of what you would owe after your credit pays your balance (also a positive number).