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The Do’s and Don’ts of Implementing a New Online Payment System

Have you been thinking about switching PropTech providers, but put it off because of the disruption it will cause to your day-to-day operations? While switching vendors can be time-consuming and expensive, what’s worse is suffering with a provider you’ve outgrown. Low utilization rates, too many fees, or bad integration can defeat the purpose of having a payment provider at all. If your current solution isn’t the best, and you know there are better options out there, don’t be afraid to implement a new system.

DO: Choose the best online payment provider.

However, we don’t blame you for prolonging the switch. It’s difficult to find the right vendor whose set-up process is smooth, simple, and efficient. It’s also hard to find one that’s prepared to scale with you as your business grows. When you acquire more properties, will you be able to easily add them to your online dashboard in real time? Does your vendor have a dedicated support team to assist with additional trainings as you hire more staff? If your goal is a thriving garden, you have to start with quality soil.

Your new provider should guide you every step of the way while finding new strategies to increase your NOI and enhance the user experience for your residents. Pick a partner, not a plug-and-play, and you’ll save your staff the pain of a poor onboarding experience.

While most providers cover the basics, the better, more comprehensive providers also help your business in the following 5 ways. If you’re considering a switch, be sure to find a provider who checks all 5 of these boxes.

1. Don’t Fall for Fees

Pro tip: Many payment solutions assess an onboarding fee, be sure to find one of the few that don’t.

On that note, make sure you aren’t charged any additional fees besides the payment processing fees (which you can choose to pass to your residents). There are companies that charge general monthly fees, set-up fees, or fees to add properties or handle chargebacks. Hidden fees are a bad-business trick of the past. Be sure to find one of the few providers that doesn’t charge anything but the processing fees your residents pay per transaction.

Want to reduce chargebacks? Read our blog, How to Fight, Win, and Prevent Chargebacks.

2. Do Let Them Invest in Your Success: Benefit from Free Marketing

How will your residents know about your new online payment process? Nowadays, everyone is always on their phone, including your residents. So send them an email. Email blasts are the quickest, cheapest and most effective method of communication. The best payment providers will facilitate email marketing blasts for you, and customize the messages with your logo and verbiage to avoid any confusion for your residents. For maximum engagement, find a provider with a mobile-first, community-branded app that lets you communicate with your residents via in-app messaging, SMS, and a community feed for broadcast announcements.

3. Do Increase Utilization: Reduce Cash and Paper Checks

To eliminate the hassle of collecting and depositing cash and paper checks, some property management companies will require all resident payments to be made online. This trend certainly helps streamline the payment collection process, but it can be illegal per certain state’s laws. A number of states require at least one free payment option for residents. In which case, some management companies decide to incur the processing fee so that paying online becomes the free option for their residents. Does your payment solution have that option?

4. Don’t Stress-out Your Future Self: Set-up Tax IDs Now

If your new payment provider is going to create and distribute your 1099-Ks for you come tax season, then they should set up each tax ID per bank account in their system during your implementation. You don’t want to get stuck in a last minute scramble trying to slice and dice your 1099-K to distribute to your owners/investors by the January 31st deadline. Skip the struggle, and get ahead of the game with a partner who prioritizes your business goals right from the start.

5. Don’t Settle for Cookie-cutter: Tailor Your Solution

During the implementation process, communicate with your vendor the experience you envision for your residents. Monthly rent payments are likely the largest expense in their life, so providing an easy, hassle-free payment process builds your relationship and reputation with them.

If your payment solution doesn’t currently provide the experience you want for your residents, is their engineering team willing to build a custom solution for you? Don’t settle for a cookie cutter product, there are many providers out there that will tailor their solution to meet your needs. Here are a few examples of some implementation trends only available with flexible vendors.

Implementation Trends

Offering more than just credit card and eCheck payment options

Only one in five Americans carries around a checkbook anymore, so stay ahead of the curve. Pick a provider that lets you offer multiple payment options like cash, check, credit card, PayPal, Masterpass, etc, not just credit card and eCheck.

Credit Reporting

Can your residents opt-in to have their rent payments applied to their credit history? Find a provider that offers credit reporting (for free), so you can empower your residents to improve their credit while differentiating your property. Be sure that your payment provider’s credit reporting feature only submits positive, on-time rental payment data. This is an important distinction, because with zero downside, it becomes a powerful incentive and draw for responsible, reliable tenants.

Flexible fee structure

Some companies charge the same percentage (i.e. 3.5% of the transaction amount) to process any type of card, debit or credit. Be sure your payment solution offers a three-tiered fee structure instead of two. More of your residents will be inclined to pay online using their debit card if there is a flat fee as opposed to a percentage of the total amount. 

ADA requirements

Can your residents call and make payments over the phone? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to provide goods, services and programs to people with disabilities on an equal basis with the rest of the public. Offering a pay-by-phone or pay-by-text option fulfills this requirement for any blind or handicapped residents who are unable to navigate the internet.

Affordable housing smoke and mirrors

Does your payment provider have the ability to suppress a certain amount of the total balance if a resident’s rent is subsidized? For instance, if the rent is set at $1,000, can your software automatically populate a lower amount in the “balance due” field when your resident logs into their portal?

6. Do Ask for Help: A Little Support Goes a Long Way

Does your new provider have multi-tiered levels of support to cover all your bases? Do they have a designated team for property additions? As you acquire new properties, adding them to the system should be a quick turn around. Three days is standard, but they should give you the option to expedite if need be.

Do they have a support center to accept payments over the phone 24/7/365? Even when your office is closed, your payment provider should still be able to accept money from your residents when it’s convenient for them. Your residents will love you for giving them this flexibility.

Do they provide you with training documents and guides so you can do your own research and be self-sufficient if you want? For instance, if you need to void a transaction, or search for a check adjustment, etc. are you able to look it up yourself?

We just directed a bunch of questions at you, but where do you go when you have questions? Implementation and ongoing support are almost as important as the actual product or service itself. Don’t stress over set-up. Find a provider whose onboarding is a breeze, and whose ongoing assistance is even better.

Keep Reading! We’ve handpicked a few more articles you might be interested in: 

It’s Not You, It’s Them: When To Break Up With Your Payment Solution

PropTech Hacks To Make Your Software Work for You

4 Ways to Protect Resident Satisfaction When It’s Time to Pay Rent

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