Buzz,swish,buzz,swish,buzz, swish: That’s the theme song of rent week that every community or assistant manager has accepted as their awful fate every month. The dreaded check scanner for rent checks, or worse, money orders…or let’s take it even further—that sound acquainted most with rent week is the unwrapping of band-aids as you cover yet another paper cut from handling resident checks by hand, one-by-one. And don’t forget, this isn’t just a check scanner solo, it’s a duet with residents who are still coming in to drop off their rent check and talk about the noisy neighbor that needs to be taken care of or how one of the washing machines isn’t working. Music to the ears, right?
Community managers—Victims and survivors of the monthly battle of paper payment processing. But, do they need to fight the fight every month? Luckily, you know the answer: online payments and electronic money orders. Almost every property has them, yet the average amount of residents who pay their rent online at any given property is approximately 32%. Why? Do residents just love their paper payments? According to 2014 NMHC’s industry report, 79% of residents say they would prefer to pay their rent online or via a smartphone. So where does the issue lie? Through the majority of consults I’ve completed, the usual problem is simply informing residents that you offer online payments!
“But when will we have time to increase our online payments when we need to process paper payments?!” your on-site staff cries.
Well then, might I suggest 5 quick and easy ways to increase online rent payments:
1. Every property has some sort of check-list or move-in sheet for residents. Include a sentence or two about online payments That way when rent week comes around, you’ll have a smaller mountain of checks to process…trust me, it’s worth it.
2. Is “online payments option available” listed on your amenity list? Most residents see that list before signing a lease, so why not advertise your convenient online payment features?
3. Schedule an automatic rent reminder email that reminds your residents to pay their rent online. By including a direct hyperlink, you can funnel traffic straight to the resident payment function of your apartment community website. Most online payment providers have this feature available to you for free, ask about it!
4. If you don’t have time to hang flyers everywhere, at least hang two: one right on the payment drop box and the other in the main office where they hand you a paper payment. My guess is that the majority, if not all, of your paper payments come through these two channels. Don’t have time to design a flyer? Most often, your online payment provider already has some designs you can use…so ask!
5. Do you give your residents a payment receipt or some type of confirmation that their payment went through? If so, then add a line like, “Save paper. Pay rent online at ‘propertyname.com’” at the bottom or top of the receipt. If you don’t do receipts, then whenever a resident comes in with a paper payment simply hand them a little flyer.
There you have it folks, 5 fast and simple secrets to encouraging online payments! Please, save community and assistant managers everywhere…and let’s start playing a new song every rent week: happy on-site staff who have more time to dedicate toward resident satisfaction and retention and less time bandaging up their poor fingers. Unless it’s Throwback Thursday – in which case we’ll crank up the check scanner and band-aid package maracas and have a dance party.
For those who’ve already mastered these steps, take it to the next level: Join Jamin Harkness from Euramex Management Group and check out how his team changed rent week completely and starting achieving online payment percentages of 90% and above in 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Rent Week.