Last modified on June 18th, 2020
By Brittany Benz
Online payments are more convenient for residents and efficient for your business. However, many residents may be unaware you offer this option, or may not know how to sign up. These challenges can easily be overcome with a little help and support from your team. As many residents transition to online grocery delivery, curbside pickup, and other forms of contactless transactions, now is a good time to remind them about your digital offerings and the benefits of enrolling. If you take the right steps to remove any obstacles and provide your residents with mobile tools and resources, they’ll be more likely to sign up and stick with it for the long term.
Here are 5 ways you can support your residents’ transition to online payments:
1.) Make Sure You’re Using a Purpose-Built System
There are many point solutions out there for online payments, but ultimately they may not save time or provide a great resident experience. All-in-one technology, like AppFolio Property Manager mobilizes every process, from leasing and screening to bill payments and renewals. So residents are accustomed to and comfortable with handling processes online from the very beginning.
AppFolio’s easy-to-use Online Portal lets residents securely pay rent and dues with a variety of payment options, so they can choose what works best for them. The Online Portal can also be easily accessed by residents from anywhere with the AppFolio mobile app. Recently, our onboarding and implementation team set a personal 2020 record for customers who went live with online payments. All of these customers are now accepting online payments from their residents, and it has made a huge impact on their business. For instance, Northwest Commercial Real Estate Investments, LLC went from about 50% online payment adoption to 93% adoption with AppFolio Property Manager.
2.) Send Reminders
Some of your residents may be new, others may have been living in your community for a while. Be sure to remind everyone of the digital tools your property management company has available. If you have an online payment system in place, then send out reminder emails in mass to educate residents on the benefits. For example, AppFolio customers can send timely notifications and reminders in bulk to residents directly through the mobile app.
Some may be unsure of how to get started, so walking them through the process could help make the transition easier. Consider hosting 1:1 virtual how-tos over a video conferencing system, or creating a short video, or even a one-sheet pdf guide that can be easily emailed. If you have new residents moving in, be sure to mention online payments right away and include information about how to sign up in their welcome packet. With a system like AppFolio Property Manager, residents are already accustomed to receiving service and handling transactions online — from scheduling their initial showing to paying their application fees. As a result, many of our customers often have higher online rent payment adoption rates. In addition, all of our customers have access to AppFolio-created flyers that they can give to their residents to promote the Online Portal feature and help them get started.
3.) Explain the Benefits
Along with reminders, it’s important to educate residents on the benefits of online payments. While some may be more obvious (less need for in-person interaction and convenience), others may be lesser-known. When you send out payment reminders or other communications, consider reminding residents about the ways online payments benefit them:
- Saves time, removes the steps of having go to the bank and/or post office
- Increases visibility for both parties
- Social distancing friendly
- Makes it easier to establish a payment plan and keep track of the remaining amount you owe
- Helps you avoid late fees with the option to set up an automatic, recurring payments
- More secure than paper payments, an online payment portal, like AppFolio Property Manager protects both in-transit and idle data, and protects your privacy and identity from fraudsters or unwanted users.
4.) Offer Multiple Ways to Pay
Offering multiple online payment options and flexible plans can increase resident satisfaction and peace of mind. AppFolio has a variety of online payment options for accepting rent, such as eCheck, credit cards, debit cards, electronic cash/money orders, and bank drafts.
However, many credit card companies charge fees, so be sure to educate your residents on any additional charges upfront. For residents who don’t have access to online banking, AppFolio’s Electronic Cash Payments allows them to pay in cash or money order from a 7-Eleven or CVS.
Offering flexible payment plans are another great way to support your residents. Whether that’s dividing this month’s rent over the remainder of their lease or offering weekly payments — all of this can be easily facilitated and tracked online.
5.) Incentivize Your Residents
Lastly, you can provide extra rewards and perks to your residents for signing up for online payments. Little bonuses such as an Amazon gift card or a small discount on the next month’s rent can go a long way into getting them to make the switch. For instance, you can hold a drawing where all residents who pay online for the month have a chance to win a prize. Once your residents are accustomed to paying online they will see how easy and convenient it is, and will likely continue to pay online in the future.
Online payments provide many benefits. From saving time to streamlining processes, they’re more convenient for your residents and team. By providing mobile tools that enable your residents to easily pay their rent online, you can improve your customer experience. Make the transition process easy and offer your support by showing them how to sign up and educating them on the benefits.