Checks have historically been the traditional method of payment for property management and community fees, but as current spending statistics from the Federal Reserve Payment Study (FRPS) and Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC) show, over the last decade, total check spending now ranks below credit, debit and ACH payments. Property management organizations need to branch out on the payment options they offer to match the omnichannel payment approach that consumers expect – or risk dissatisfied residents and lost revenue. Here, Dave Yohe, VP of Marketing at BillingTree identifies two key technologies that can improve the payment experience for members/residents and help maximize revenue for community association (CAM) and property managers.
Residents expect the frictionless payment transaction experience they experience every day as consumers but often don’t experience when paying their regular property management and community fees. But two resident-friendly payment technologies are helping managers maximize receivables month on month.
IVR at Your Service
Residents wishing to make a rental, management or community fee payment could write and mail a check. But this could be taken a step further by offering an easy-to-use and affordable service, enabling residents to make a simple phone call and pay using their card or e-check (ACH) with Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
IVR is a great way to improve the payment experience. It significantly reduces the amount of effort and hassle required to make a payment, providing a simple, automated and compliant method to pay bills. IVR has the added benefit of letting residents know whether their payments have been accepted or declined, so they – or the management – can take the appropriate measures if the need arises.
But IVR technology isn’t just a way to improve community or management fee collection. It ensures compliance, enhances customer service and ultimately allows more free time for property managers to deal with other customer service tasks.
Recurring Payment Plans
For residents paying HOA fees, or living long-term in a managed building/community, continually making one-off payments is a big inconvenience. A recurring payment plan is a great option for settling payments, but has traditionally been difficult for property and CAM managers to set up.
Technology can now offer management organizations of all sizes automated recurring payment solutions that give them the ability to automatically receive payments on a prearranged schedule.
For each month or billing cycle, a notification is sent electronically. This triggers a payment that is taken out of the client’s account, usually via a card payment or e-check (ACH).
There are two main reasons why property management organizations and CAMs should explore recurring payments as an option:
Better Cash Flow – When residents sign up for recurring payments, funds will be posted to your account like clockwork, not dependent on office hours. Not only does this process help improve cash flow, but it also makes long-term financial planning much easier.
Improved Convenience – Property and CAM managers don’t need to actively manage payment cycles. With recurring billing, payments are requested automatically without any direct intervention, freeing up time for more critical tasks.
All Seeing, All Knowing
It’s not only members and residents who benefit from the ease of automated electronic payments. Management can become a much simpler task than in the past when transitioning to electronic payments. Rather than having to devise their own complicated system to track, chase and manage all payments – some of which are paper and some paperless – property managers can gain a complete view of their revenue cycle.
There are now solutions that integrate all the technology into a simple platform to enable CAM and property managers to consolidate payments and simplify measurement by having all transactions posted in a single system – saving the time of manually sifting through and processing all payments.
For example, we are working with major Community Association software provider TOPS Software to do exactly that.
The company integrates with BillingTree’s Payrazr technology to offer CAMs and Homeowners Associations (HOAs) multiple payment channels beyond traditional mailed check acceptance. These methods include online portals and IVR – with the ability to accept payment by card and e-check/ ACH.
These 24/7 self-serve solutions supply residents with more convenient means to securely settle their dues, maintenance and service balances, or set up recurring payments to help avoid late payments. Both offerings include validation of account data and balances along with payment acceptance fed into a single system –freeing up staff to focus on other service issues.
Path of Least Resistance
By offering residents limited options to pay, property and CAM managers are limiting their own chances of recouping revenue, especially as consumer spending preferences are changing.
Technology is readily available to reduce the friction of property management payments. With a mixed generation of residents, property managers can use these new technology-driven payment methods to make sure they have a range of options that suit everyone – the residents, their staff and the business.