You might have heard some buzz around the industry about business intelligence. Maybe you heard it from us after the launch of our latest custom dashboards feature, or maybe you’ve read about the growing market for data analyst and business analyst jobs. If you’re curious about this buzzword and how it can help your storage business make more money, cut costs, and bring in more leads, read on!

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence is a broad term. In general, business intelligence (BI) refers to the technology, applications, and practices involved in collecting, integrating, analyzing, and presenting business data. For self storage, BI includes collecting and analyzing all the data created by your storage business, such as lead source information, website data, software data (like customer data, lien data, occupancy percentages, net move-ins, and more), and operational information. BI tools allow you to explore data and detect trends, supporting data-driven decision making backed by a history of business data.

So why do you need BI tools? Maybe you already have a guesstimate of how your business is doing, or you’ve made a few Excel charts that allow you to draw insights from lead analytics and customer stats. But the biggest reason BI tools are significantly better than creating your own spreadsheets? The data is aggregated for you, making the analytics process less fragmented and more integrated, allowing you to draw fresh insights and look at information in different ways. Curious how BI can help your business? Check out the six points below!

1. Improve your business decision making.

Ever lie awake at night wondering if you’re making the right choices for your business? BI helps with that. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, so make sure you’re learning from your past endeavors by looking at your historical data. Data-driven decision making can help you improve strategic business decision making, with everything from marketing to expansion to rental rate data.

Here’s an example: John B. owns a self storage facility in Kennebunkport, Maine. He is directing his marketing all over town and to the neighboring city of Saco, and he’s spending a large portion of his budget on ads. He wants to hone in on his marketing spending, so he uses his BI tools to run a report mapping out where all of his leads came from over the last 12 months. He looks over the map and notices that the vast majority of his leads are coming from south Kennebunkport, and he hasn’t gotten a single lead from Saco in over a year. Using what he’s learned, he decides to quit marketing in Saco and hone in on south Kennebunkport where he’s been successful. Over the next six months, John is able to increase his occupancy by 10% and save thousands on wasted marketing dollars.

2. Have a sea of data at your fingertips.

What can you do with years of data? The possibilities are nearly endless. Aggregating your business data helps not only with making data-backed decisions, but also with organizing your business information. If you’re thinking about selling your storage business in the future, having detailed historical data on your business can be a huge asset to potential buyers. If your business includes multiple facilities, aggregated facility data makes it even easier for owners to manage the business effectively across multiple locations.

Getting the data is one thing. Accessing the data is another thing entirely. If you’re creating spreadsheets and charts on your own, making the data accessible can be a full-time job, literally: data analysts are a thing. Their full time job is to translate raw data, market research, logistics, transportation costs, and more into plain English that people and companies can use to make better business decisions. If becoming an amateur data analyst (as well as a full time storage owner) isn’t something that you’re interested in, you might want to look into BI tools.

Gathering valuable insights from business data and analytics can help your storage facility win customers and stand the test of time against competition.

3. Customize your sales strategy for each facility.

If you own multiple locations, you know that sometimes what works in one market doesn’t work in another market, and that’s okay. The learning curve for managing multiple facilities can be long, but with customizable, aggregated data from all your locations, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions on a facility-by-facility basis.

Keep track of all your location-specific data in one place, and see how specific facility information stacks up against your overall business numbers. Having specific, customized goals for each facility can help you target customers and market your locations more effectively. It also helps with those small-detail business decisions that can have a huge impact on your facility. Maybe your business data shows a need for more RV and boat storage in your market, or maybe facility stats show a desire for more climate controlled storage. By having this information available, you’ll be able to make better business decisions for the individual properties you own.

4. Fine-tune your marketing strategy.

You don’t want to be ten years into self storage ownership, plugging away at your business and wasting money on fruitless marketing efforts year after year. Data-driven decision making can help you translate everything you’re doing to market your facility into real dollars, so that all of your marketing efforts are based on solid research, data, and facts, rather than gut-instinct or assumption.

The ability to know how you compare to competing storage brands can give you a huge advantage. Website, search engine, and digital business data can give you an inside look into your competitive market and help you avoid costly marketing pitfalls.

5. Spend less time data-gathering.

As I mentioned before, BI tools can save you a ton of time - years even. From consolidating data across multiple sources, creating charts and graphs, and trying to get an accurate read on your market and customers, data gathering and analysis is a full time gig. Add in dozens of facility locations and years of unused data, and you’ll be working overtime every day to get it all organized.

There is an easier solution: utilize BI tools to aggregate data across your entire business portfolio, including software, website, operations, and marketing data - without becoming a data scientist. With storEDGE’s custom dashboards, you can even view your data and charts right in your software. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

6. Create a more effective business model.

With more and more people getting into self storage ownership and development, the market is becoming more saturated and competitive. Consumers have dozens of options, just a click away. For self storage owners, staying alive means making smart business decisions and knowing where to invest your money back into your business. Analytics are key to gaining these insights.

Because many self storage operators use various vendors and record keeping-applications to manage their software, website, operations, and marketing tools, the storage industry is facing an uphill battle when it comes to aggregating data. To tell the whole story, you’ll need qualitative analytics and quantitative data across all of these sources. With BI tools available to show you the big picture by aggregating data across your business portfolio, you’ll be able to create a more effective business model using powerful analytics and win in your market for years to come.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: storEDGE® to Provide Integrated Business Intelligence for Self Storage, The 7 Biggest Misconceptions about Unmanned Facilities, or How to Optimize Your Tenant’s Rental Experience.