It’s Not You, It’s Them: When To Break Up With Your Payment Solution
The Automated Tasks Your Integration Should Master
Ah, young love, so hopeful, but fickle… sort of like outdated software. Are you starting to see cracks in your payment solution’s integration with your accounting software? Many solutions over-promise and under-deliver on their integration. If that’s the case, it might be time to break up with your payment solution. It’s not you, it’s them. But how do you find the perfect fit for your accounting software? What should you look for?
Not every online payment solution on the market is right for you and your business. Your accounting software integration must be solid, or the whole concept of online payments is pointless to you. That may sound harsh, but a faulty integration can lead to errors that require hours of tedious work to correct. At that point, you would have been better off accepting hand delivered paper checks.
At Zego, our best-of-breed payments platform integrates with all major accounting systems, and our team is constantly working with leading property management software vendors to ensure a smooth flow of data. We know what it takes to create and maintain a strong integration. Below are the top 7 integration “must-haves” you should make sure you are getting with your current solution.
1. Don’t Be Afraid of (Transaction) Failure
The number one question we hear from property managers when they inquire about online payments is, “what happens if a transaction fails to integrate with my accounting software?”
Ideally, once a payment is submitted and the money is deposited, the transaction should automatically post to the resident ledger without the property management staff having to lift a finger. But as we all know, technology isn’t perfect. So when a transaction fails to integrate, does your software have an automatic reintegration feature?
An ideal payment system should automatically attempt to reintegrate a transaction a least three times. And if it fails to reintegrate automatically, an email notification should alert your staff so they can manually post the transaction on their end. Reintegration logic sounds like a no brainer, but not every payment facilitator has it. Does yours?
2. You’ve Got Mail
On that note, if a transaction fails to integrate, how soon are you notified? You should receive a daily email report detailing any transactions that failed to integrate from the previous day, so you can take action.
You should also be the first person notified of any refund, return, reversal, void, chargeback, etc. A summary of these payments should be delivered to you daily, like your morning paper (if you still receive the paper).
But unlike your old school WSJ or NYT, you should be able to customize the notifications you receive. Don’t become victim to information overload, wasting your time sorting through pages of useless transactional data. Instead, make sure you are only receiving actionable data. You should be able to adjust your email notification settings, so that you have total control of your notification frequency, the types of emails you receive, and for which properties, etc.
3. Too Many Variables
There are two types of autopays: fixed amount and variable autopays. A fixed amount autopay will debit the resident’s account for the same amount of money every month. Variable autopays automatically debit the resident based on their current balance, which, on top of rent, may also include utilities and ancillary charges. Residents prefer this method because their charges are consolidated, and they and they can have their entire balance paid automatically without having to adjust anything in the payment portal each month.
But this feature is not possible without a solid integration. For example, if a resident’s balance from the accounting software does not integrate with your payment system, the variable autopay will charge the resident for the wrong amount. Then you’ll have to go hunt the resident down for the remaining money owed. Because of integration flaws, your time is wasted, your cash flow is delayed, and your resident is frustrated with you because they think they’ve already paid.
4. Flip the Switch
In order to keep their books accurate, property managers commonly request an automated function that switches off online payments for specific days of the month. The blackout dates allow your accounting staff to close out their books, reset, and enter in the next month’s balances before online payments open up to residents again. This automated process simplifies your bookkeeping, reduces late payments, and saves you time.
5. Access Denied
The ability to block residents within your accounting software and payment solution is a necessity. The best payment solutions will have a system in place to help automatically block certain residents, payment types, and payment dates for you. Handling it manually is a grind, and leaves room for human error.
If a resident payment is returned due to an NSF (insufficient funds), you might decide to put them in a “cash equivalent only” status. This means they can only make payments with verified funds, such as money orders, credit card payments, cash, etc. Some payment systems have a built-in counter that automatically converts residents to a “cash equivalent only” status after a certain number of failed payments. It’s like having a little digital employee that works ‘round the clock to proactively prohibit delinquent residents from submitting another bad eCheck.
If you are evicting a resident and do not want to accept any type of payment from them, you can block them from your payment portal entirely. But beware of blocked residents who find sneaky ways to submit payments due to slow and clunky accounting software integrations. For instance, if the blocked resident data does not update in your payment software in real-time, the “blocked” resident would still be able to submit a partial payment. And in some states, this prohibits you from evicting them.
6. Ready, Set, Pause
Automating the accounting month-end process with a property lock feature allows bookkeepers and accountants to draw a proverbial line in the sand. They can mark the exact date and time that determines what revenue belongs in the previous month and the following month. This flexible, schedulable feature allows you to essentially “pause” the integration of payments and deposits while you close out your books for the month.
The best part is that even while your integration is paused, your online payment portal is open. Residents can keep making payments none the wiser, and the integration of those transactions will be delayed until accounting month end has concluded.
7. Be Flexible
More payment flexibility for residents leads to more on-time rent payments. One in four renters spends more than 50% of their monthly income on rent. Residents shouldn’t have to worry about making their biggest monthly payment on a fixed schedule. Advanced payment providers can enable flexible rent payments, which allow residents to set their own rent payment plans, while you enjoy more rent payments made on-time and in full.
8. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
The best payment solutions have a partner relations team. At Zego, for instance, we have scheduled technical calls with our accounting software partners every other week to discuss integration enhancements and ideas. Being a preferred partner means our technology evolves in tandem with their software to avoid crashes and pitfalls. And our open line of communication between teams allows us to collaborate and engineer new features to stay ahead of the market. We believe the strength of the partner relationship is reflected in the strength of the integration.
“We Need to Talk”
Now that most property management companies have an online payment solution, the differentiator is how smoothly that data flows into your accounting software. But finding the perfect web-service integration to help efficiently run your business and keep your accounting orderly and accurate is tricky. Your online payment solution should automate manual tasks, and make life easier for you and your staff. So if you are noticing some cracks in your payment integration, maybe it’s time to have the talk, and move on to a more modern, automated solution.
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