We've all heard the dreaded “The check is in the mail” line on rent week. It is so cliched, that it is cringe worthy, but sometimes true. Even the most reliable tenant forgets or experiences tight finances, necessitating a last-minute dash to the post office or to your office to pay rent on time. Unfortunately, that is not the end of the most hectic week of the month. The hours spent logging the checks and making the trip to the bank for the deposit – and you'll be lucky to do it in one trip – adds unnecessary strain to your busy life. With broad and easy access to technology, a better way exists for both you and your clients. Switching to an online rent payment system can be a scary proposition, but the payoff in time and money is well worth a little effort in the beginning.
Once you've decided to do business electronically, there is only one thing left to do... get your tenants on board!
Use email reminders to build a functional relationship
As soon as you have your tenants' email addresses, it can be tempting to overdo it: to email them about every little thing. Resist that compulsion. We tend to see many recurrent incoming emails from the same company or person as spam. Your tenants’ email may even begin to mark your emails as spam. Send them one or two substantive emails per month unless they have contacted you with specific questions, comments or concerns. One example of a useful, substantive email is a monthly reminder about rent to which you can add other reminders or event information.
Creating a catchy, unique headline works wonders when you want people to open your email. Make your headline a question, or otherwise imply that the content is exclusive to them. This simple step enhances likelihood that your residents will engage with the emails content. If you know your audience well enough, personalize or tailor the content to them, which demonstrates that the management is invested in their well-being.
Make social media work for you
Almost every one of your tenants has a Facebook account. Consider creating social media pages for your property management company for updates and reminders. It does take a certain amount of trust for a person to let you into their private, online world through a friend request, but following a page is non-invasive and easy. Alternatively, you can state on your monthly or bimonthly email to your tenants that the Facebook page is available for more immediate updates. Twitter is another service that can be ideal for rent reminders and maintenance notifications.
Make it attractive
The obvious answer here is convenience. For most tenants, the rent check may be the only check they write all month.
Saving precious time will be a selling point as well. We seem to have so little time in the modern world. Being able to save someone a little of that is a big deal!
The small things also add up. If the tenant is only driving to the post office to mail the check, saving a little gas money won't seem like a huge thing, but point out that over time, they'll be saving money on gas, stamps, other mail paraphernalia. It all adds up.
Give your tenants options
Electronic check/ACH, one time debit, recurring debit, credit card options all make your tenants feel like they are in control of the process. That control translates into punctual payments.
Assuage fears about the security of online payments through information. Some people are still afraid to do business online. The best way to handle this is to educate your clientele one the safety of your online system. If they need assistance because they are not digitally inclined, offer a service to assist them setting up an online rent payment account.
If the client remains unwilling to risk using an electronic check, credit card or bank card online, discuss the possibility of using a prepaid card with them.
If it is legal to do so where you do business, consider making electronic payment the only way you accept rent. Requiring digital payments on the lease agreement is a great way to make it clear up front. Pointing the stipulation out and even encouraging them to sign up before they move in are all smart ideas.
The benefits of online rent payments for property owners
As a property manager, you can give your clients peace of mind and the convenience they want. Everything is integrated: disbursements, online contributions and vendor payments. You can receive electronic notifications regarding deposits and when a tenant has given notice to move out. Tracking these events online consolidates receipts and other important paperwork, which simplifies your business.
Learn more about how electronic payments can help your business.