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About City Club Apartments

Named one of the top 30 Multifamily Development Firms of 2020 by MHN, City Club Apartments was founded nearly 100 years ago. Focused on custom, luxury, boutique communities, the company emphasizes a culture of hospitality and customer-centricity. The City Club Apartment communities are located in prime neighborhoods with great access to public transportation, arts and culture, parks and trails, sporting venues, retail, restaurants, and entertainment and central business districts.
 
  • Portfolio: Multifamily
  • Zego Products: Zego PayZego Utility
  • Accounting Software Integration: MRI
  • Location: 22 sites across 7 states and growing

Results highlights:

138%
138% increase in digital pay adoption from previous provider to Zego™
83%
83% average digital pay adoption across properties*
4.2
High resident satisfaction levels of 4.2 out of 5 stars, thanks to focus on customer service and modern conveniences, including features such as incurred ACH fees, variable AutoPay and Credit Reporting

The challenge

The team at City Club prides themselves on providing a unique, fun, and ‘all-in-one’ lifestyle. They focus on providing a high level of service, as reflected in their stellar resident reviews, as well as modern amenities that offer convenience to their residents. This includes enabling residents to quickly and efficiently make digital payments.

City Club has a corporate goal of achieving 100% online payments. “We were previously working with another payments provider and were at about 35% utilization companywide,” says Cherise Soulliere, Assistant Vice President of Organization Development. “It was quickly becoming a problem because they didn’t link back to our MRI system and it was a lot of manual work. For example, if someone paid online, we still had to grab the receipt and manually enter it. City Club wants our Managers to be out walking the community and talking to our residents, this manual work was creating a roadblock for our other company values.

In addition, City Club was managing their resident utility billing through a separate vendor, as well as the processing and paying their utility invoices manually, which resulted in operational inefficiency.

The approach & outcomes

City Club began partnering with ZegoTM with goals of increasing digital payment utilization, improving operational efficiency, and streamlining utility management. Thanks to the collaboration and partnership, they were able to not only hand over their utility billing and management but also grow to 83% digital pay utilization in July of 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted occupancy and utilization rates later in the year as Cherise explains “Some of our communities were hit hard due to the pandemic. They were at 89-90% utilization and then dropped to about 70% because of ongoing economic hardships.” However, even accounting for the drop due to the unusual circumstances in 2020, they have seen a 138% increase in digital pay utilization since partnering with ZegoTM and implementing best practices to improve community performance.

When we first started with ZegoTM some communities had 70% utilization while others were at 5 or 10%. Our demographic didn’t accept it and we were not pushing it. When we decided that 100% online payments are a metric that’s cohesive with our brand and our goal to provide a lifestyle that’s easy, we made it a priority as a company and really seen improvements with the implementation.”

 

1. On-site staff change management & training

2. Resident on-boarding

3. Resident incentives

4. Multiple payment options

5. Resident engagement & communication

1. On-site staff change management & training

Setting a corporate-wide goal for digital pay utilization is a best practice to improve performance but companies also have to ensure that on-site staff are committed to the vision and trained on the solution. At City Club, this means talking with the staff at each community and focusing on the time savings they will experience from going digital. “You won’t have to process check by check,” says Cherise “You’re going to save time and have fewer headaches.”

For staff training, City Club runs a monthly new hire orientation. They are dedicated to training associates on the brand and culture. “We have staff visit our corporate office for a full week. This training includes one full day of training on systems where we review all our business applications, including ZegoTM. We also have pre-recorded training sessions from ZegoTM that are available on-demand for people to watch as a refresher if they forget something.

  • It’s nice going to one portal to improve your data. You can cross-reference the information and it makes our data analysis process so much easier. The reports [Zego™] provide are in depth and help us do our jobs better. Our partnership with Zego is so valuable!"

    Cherise Soulliere
    Assistant Vice President of Organization Development at City Club Apartments

Zego Pay resident digital rent payment instructions

2. Resident On-boarding

To ensure residents understand the process and benefits of paying online, City Club starts with their highly personalized welcome orientation. “We take the move-in orientation very seriously. We show new residents the apartment home, make sure they love it and are excited and then get to the paperwork. We want to make sure they understand the details. Our move-in packet has cheat sheets and orientation material that includes a ZegoTM flyer that talks about online payments.” shares Cherise “We include their account number and if the resident agrees we sign them up for online payments right away at the move-in orientation. We also encourage them to sign up for variable AutoPay so we’re set going forward. We don’t want them to walk away and not be set up and forget how to do it the next month.

The focus on signing up residents for digital payments immediately upon move-in, and encouraging them to register for variable AutoPay, has been a key success factor for City Club. With variable AutoPay residents can pay their entire bill, including rent, utilities, and other property charges such as pet fees, etc. with one payment, even as the amount changes. This option gives residents the comfort and convenience of always paying their bills on time and in full, avoiding late fees. As Cherise notes “One feature I really like is that they can put a maximum dollar amount limit on the variable AutoPay so they feel comfortable that if there’s a surprise charge the payment amount will never go above that max ceiling. It’s a safety net.

3. Resident Incentives

As an incentive and benefit to residents, City Club covers ACH processing fees for residents making digital payments. This encourages residents to set up online payments and not worry about fees. They also offer Credit Reporting, which incentivizes residents for making timely online payments by automatically reporting rent-related payments to the credit bureaus and helping to build their credit history. This is a unique service that empowers residents to build their credit with payments they’re already making and to work towards achieving their financial goals with City Club’s help. This service is opt-in and free for residents and properties.

  • Bundling of utility expense management, resident billing and payments. It just makes sense to have all three with one company. You make sure utility bills are sent out and accurate, residents get them on time, they’re happy, they pay online, and it just works - it’s full circle

    Cherise Soulliere
    Assistant VP of Organization Development, City Club Apartments

select a payment method for one-time payment4. Multiple payment options

City Club offers many online payment options for maximum resident convenience and flexibility, including incurred ACH, credit card, debit card, and CashPay.  ZegoTM CashPay enables residents to electronically pay rent with cash from one of 25,000 CheckFreePay(R) locations nationwide. Residents can conveniently pay when they’re out running errands at local retailers such as Walmart. CashPay turns cash and money orders into digital payment methods while giving residents the flexibility to pay how they’re comfortable.

5 proven steps to reach 100% digital rent payment adoption

A step-by-step guide for increasing digital payment usage in your communities.

5. Resident engagement & communication

For the City Club team, resident engagement is all about the personal touch. “We focus on a combination of personal, hand-written thank you cards and technology for real-time email and text bulletins if we need to get word out quickly or there’s a need for an emergency notification. We’re also exploring the Zego EngageTM app right now as our next evolution for communication.” shares Cherise. City Club communities also use their email system for rent reminders to ensure timely digital payments.

Conclusion

At 83% utilization prior to the pandemic, the City Club team believes a key to their success is the “Bundling of utility expense management, resident billing and payments. It just makes sense to have all three with one company. You make sure utility bills are sent out and accurate, residents get them on time, they’re happy, they pay online, and it just works - it’s full circle” explains Cherise “It’s also nice going to one portal to improve your data. You can cross-reference the information and it makes our data analysis process so much easier. The reports you provide are in-depth and help us do our jobs better. Our partnership with ZegoTM is so valuable.

city club's portfolio-wide digital payment adoption

Best practice recommendations for achieving 100% digital payment adoption

With results such as an average of 83% digital payment adoption across their properties and a 138% increase in digital pay adoption from their previous provider, the City Club team is benefitting from increased operational efficiency and more time to support their staff and residents. They are able to focus on emphasized a culture of hospitality and customer-centricity rather than manual data entry and trips to the bank. 

Zego offers five recommendations for achieving 100% digital payment adoption at multifamily communities:

1. On-site staff change management and training: Provide on-demand training for your on-site associates around the value and functionality of your digital payment system.

2. Resident on-boarding: Set clear expectations around when and how payments should be made by providing new residents the information they need to pay online from the get-go.

3. Resident incentives: Offer a win-win payment structure that benefits both you and your renters.

4. Multiple payment options: Offer every way to pay digitally, including a cash payment alternative

5. Resident engagement & communication: Ensure your community engagement technology is up-to-date and user friendly.

*Data as of July 2020

Schedule a Demo

To learn more about how we can help you implement these best practices schedule time with a Zego team member for a quick demo of our platform.

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