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National Mini Storage: thirty plus and thriving

16 November 2023

Find out how this long-standing New Zealand business uses MYOB Advanced Business to prepare for future growth.

National Mini Storage exterior

When National Mini Storage opened its first branch in Penrose, Auckland in 1991, it was one of the earliest self-storage companies in New Zealand.

These days, they're a leading and trusted brand in the storage market. 

Just as people look for simplicity in their homes, offices and commercial properties, the company strives to make things easier for its customers, suppliers and staff.

It’s been the recipe for success for the past 30 years, and with the right ingredients — including MYOB Advanced Business’s reporting, approvals and forecasting capabilities — it has what it needs to grow. 

Key learnings from a leader in self-storage

  • Streamlined accounts payable approval

    improve cost control 

  • Access to high-level, sophisticated reports

    for critical business decisions

  • Automated business processes

    improve efficiency across multiple sites


Setting the standard in self-storage

Over three decades, National Mini Storage has forged an enduring reputation in the self-storage market, expanding its reach to 11 operating locations across wider Auckland (with three more in the pipeline).

What started as a concrete block under lock and key has developed into various state-of-the-art storage facilities, reinforced by market-leading technology and security.

Today, the company employees a team of 50 and has an annual turnover of $20 million. 

National Mini Storage exterior

New CEO catalyst for change

Caroline Plowman has been with National Mini Storage for 4.5 years.

She came into the company as financial controller and has recently taken over as CEO — just as the world plunged into a global pandemic in March 2020.

While COVID has certainly posed its challenges, in hindsight, Caroline’s promotion couldn’t have come at a better time.

In many ways, it was the catalyst for upgrading the systems.

“We went live with MYOB Advanced Business on 1 December 2019. A few months later, we were in lockdown,” Caroline says.

As with many growing organisations, National Mini Storage was dealing with several operational inefficiencies. Caroline had first-hand experience with the manual workload involved, something she knew needed rectifying before someone else took on the books.

To streamline operations, the company set about finding a new system.

Old system lacked grunt and automation

Too many transactions slow down processing

For many years, National Mini Storage had been using Reckon.

But over time, as the business added more and more storage locations to its roll, the system struggled to manage the ever-growing level of transactions.

“We’ve got a few cost centres,” Caroline laughs.“We definitely got too big for that system,” she adds.

The other big thing the old system lacked was automation.

There were several processes, including bank feeds and accounts payable, that required manual workarounds.

Add the extensive fixed asset register, with depreciation rates manually calculated in Excel – and there was lots of room for improvement.

“Like our approvals process, which required printing, scanning and signing paper documents,” she says.

“It’s better to automate these things and actually know with confidence that everything adds up, and you aren’t going to make any mistakes.”

- Caroline Plowman, CEO, National Mini Storage

The company also found it difficult to produce reports across all 15 cost centres, purely because the system was overwhelmed by transactional data.

For National Mini Storage to operate smarter and more efficiently, an upgraded system was the best option.

MYOB Advanced Business ‘does everything’

Powerful core system complemented by add-ons

When choosing a new system, Caroline considered multiple options.

Xero was too small and had limited monthly bank transaction capacity. NetSuite was on the other end of the spectrum — it was too big, too complex.

MYOB Advanced Business was the perfect “middle ground” for the privately-owned company.

“It could do everything that I wanted it to do,” says Caroline.

Another big selling point was MYOB Advanced Business’s ability to integrate with several add-ons, while still working fast and in real-time. 

"Admittedly, some of the customisations are above my skills and understanding, but that’s the great thing about MYOB Advanced Business. You don’t need to be an expert, because you have a whole team who can help you when you need it.”

- Caroline Plowman CEO, National Mini Storage

Business moving faster with streamlined processes

Velixo app enables real-time reporting

With the new system implemented, Caroline says the business has seen three key areas of improvement.

One of the most immediate changes was having access to fast, accurate reporting.

Beforehand, pulling reports was time-consuming. It would take hours to collect and analyse the necessary data, just to get the simplest report.

Now, with the click of a few buttons and the magic of Velixo, Caroline can drill down into the detail almost instantly — and easily compare monthly cost centre data to the assigned budgets. Not only does the company now have the information it needs to make better business decisions, but also Caroline (and the new finance manager) can focus on more high-value tasks. 

"MYOB Advanced Business has just made things easier and more efficient. Because it’s a cloud-based system, we’ve been able to keep working through lockdowns, and focus on our customers – rather than our processes."

- Caroline Plowman, CEO, National Mini Storage

Better cost control with automated approvals

The company’s AP approvals process used to involve a lot of printing and scanning — not to mention screeds of paper.

It was hard to tell whether automatic payments had the right authorities, which sometimes led to invoices being paid without approval or coded to the wrong cost centre.

With MYOB Advanced Business and the Expense Manager app, that process has been streamlined and automated.

Depending on a staff member’s authority, the system is triggered to automatically send a request for approval — before any money changes hands.

This gives Caroline better visibility of what money is being spent, and where.

“We can actually see where an invoice is coded and whether we've budgeted for the cost,” she explains.  

"MYOB Advanced Business has a lot of flexibility – lots of customisations, integrations, ways to report and search for information, so you can really build it for your business."

- Caroline Plowman, CEO, National Mini Storage

Accurate five-year forecasting keeps bank happy

The company also benefits from more accurate forecasting.

Every time it builds a new facility, part of that process is adding a new budget and factoring it into the five-year forecast.

This was previously being done in Excel, and while it worked, it also took a lot of time.

Often, there would be a few million dollars of unreconciled money that Caroline would have to manually go searching for and correct — which could sometimes take several hours.

These days, things are a lot simpler.

The system automatically pulls in the data it needs to create the reports, and the team can quickly make format adjustments for board meetings. 

"It’s just so easy to find what I need to know. I can drill down into anything and everything – I don’t need to constantly ask the finance team which is a big win."

- Caroline Plowman,  CEO, National Mini Storage

National Mini Storage: 10x bigger over three decades

A brief look at National Mini Storage

  • 30-years strong: National Mini Storage opened its first branch in 1991 in Penrose, Auckland.

  • Today, the company employs 50 staff across 11 storage locations with three more sites in the pipeline. The annual turnover is $20 million.

  • 100% privately-owned New Zealand business 

Improvements: upgrading to MYOB Advanced Business

  • Fast transactional data processing across multiple locations

  • Streamlined and automated AP approvals process

  • Access to high-level, sophisticated reports for critical business decisions

  • Accurate and flexible forecasting that doesn’t take hours to update

  • Better budget tracking and expense management 

  • Automated business processes lead to operational efficiency

  • Flexibility: room to grow and add more modules as needed

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